Are you a manager or are you a leader?

Actually, if your small business is to be successful, you need to be both!

First, let’s talk about the differences. The Wall Street Journal published a short guide on the subject, which includes the following list:

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on     the horizon.
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

For many (but not all) business owners, leadership sounds much more appealing than management.

Unfortunately, both roles are essential for a business to grow. If you’re a natural leader, you need to either hire a good manager or develop the necessary skills yourself. If you’re more of a manager, you need to learn the art of leadership. (I recognize that this isn’t an easy task—but it is essential if you hope to build a world-class business. Contact me for more information!)

For most of my clients, a major challenge is incorporating management functions into their leadership mentality. Below are tips that we have found to be helpful along the way:

  1. Document everything. A major issue for many leaders is their tendency to develop great innovations, but not systemize them. As a result, the innovations aren’t sustainable, because they depend on the leader to execute.

  2. Groom managers within your organization. You may not be able to hire a full-time manager, but you can absolutely develop current employees into capable managers. Look for individuals that are organized and disciplined.

  3. Don’t limit yourself. Many business owners cripple themselves by listening to that voice in their head that says “you aren’t organized to be a good manager” or “you aren’t creative enough to be a good leader.” The only limitations that exist are those that you place on yourself, so don’t do it. You can absolutely learn the skills necessary to be an effective leader… as well as a world-class manager.

Building a small business successfully requires both strong management and strong leadership. How can you improve your abilities in these critical disciplines?

Are you a stronger manager, or a stronger leader? How have you been able to overcome your natural weaknesses in either of these areas? Leave a comment and share your experience below.