I’ve recently found myself in discussions with CEOs and Owners about the difference between being a “leader” versus a “manager”.   And that is the subject of today’s Lessons Found.

According to Merriam-Websters, to “lead” is to “guide on a way especially by going in advance; to direct on a course or a direction.”  This is in contrast to the definition of  “manage”: “to handle or direct with a degree of skill such as to exercise supervisory direction of; to make and keep compliant.”  Considering both at their extremes, leadership takes a broad, future-focused perspective in contrast to micro-managing.  In practice, the mix between how much time owners can devote to leadership versus managing often relates to the company’s stage of growth.  Start-ups require constant hands-on management.  As the company’s revenues and profits grow, owners can begin to develop a management structure which allows them to transition their focus towards leadership.

The key to this transition is elucidating your vision of a path into the future.  This starts with a clear statement of your organization’s goals, mission and values which define both direction and the company’s personality (aka culture).  And as leader, you should ensure each individual understands their role in this vision with measurable annual goals as well as an ongoing exchange of ideas.

As the CEO or Owner, your role as manager never really ends.  But as leader, your most important management task is managing yourself.  It takes discipline to stay on the leadership track and not revert back to your all-too familiar manager role.  This requires putting the right people in key positions and then ceding routine operational decisions to them.  This is the tricky part.  Your team will likely continue to come to you with routine questions.  The easiest and quickest response is to simply answer the question.  But in order for the new management regime to establish itself, you need to either point them to someone else who can answer them or, if you are training them to make the decision, ask them what they think is the answer.  Their response may not always align with how you would do things.  Consider acquiescing if their idea will accomplish the task while still adhering to your vision.

While no one ever said managing is easy, taking on the leadership mantle can be even more challenging.  And there certainly is more to it than I could include in a single email.  But once you take these first steps, you have momentum on your side.

Life brings us lessons every day.  Sometimes from expected sources.  And sometimes from sources and situations we never would have thought possible.  Either way, they are a gift found. I am fortunate to find these types of lessons regularly and wanted to share them with you with this weekly series of “Business Lessons Found”.
Did you recently receive the gift of a Business Lesson Found that has helped you with management, marketing or another aspect in business? I would love to hear about it. Comment below or send me an email to let me know.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.com