Leading and Managing: The Key to Success

Leading and Managing: The Key to Success

Leading and Managing: The Key to Success

I’m often asked by business owners and their teams whether it is more effective to be a leader or a manager. Questions arise such as, “Which is better?” and “When will I switch from being a great manager to a superb leader?” There is, however, one strategic and healthy way to perform in your management/leadership role and I have the answer. Let’s start by defining each one and distinguishing the two.

What’s the difference?

Management essentially defines how you operate and make use of your resources, whereas leadership defines who you are. To excel in managing, you need tenacity, concrete thinking, control, and – to put it bluntly – the ability to produce results within the organization.

Management is a craft that must be constantly refined and done in a skillful manner. Leadership, however, is more personal and it starts with self-awareness. I love the following quote by Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence:

“For leaders, the first task in management has nothing to do with leading others; step one poses the challenge of knowing and managing oneself.”

Leadership is about showing people who we really are. It’s about influencing and motivating them based on our communication and interactions with them.

When we lead, we are going through a process of self-reflection every day because the way in which we communicate is integral in getting others to follow us.

Emotional Intelligence, or the ability to understand and manage our emotions, is critical to our success as managers and leaders. Astute business owners understand that our emotions affect our daily interactions with others. It is our self-awareness of these emotions that can help us to manage them more effectively and become the leader we want to see ourselves as. This type of awareness, as noted in Emotional Intelligence, is essential because it helps us to become trusted and empathetic leaders.

Which one is better?

Although leading and management require very different skill sets in order to perform well in either category, the trick to excelling in your role is to get really good at both.  The fact is that leading and management are complementary and you absolutely need to do both in order to succeed. There is an area in which leading and managing overlap and this middle ground is where many business owners need to be because they are still very involved in day-to-day activities.  The challenge is to make sure you don’t forget the leadership components!

The interesting part is this: you can manage your team without having good leadership skills, but you cannot lead your team without having good management skills. I will be curious to see how many agree with this statement.  

I once heard someone put it like this: managers get their teams to do what needs to be done, but leaders get their teams to want to do what needs to be done. Such a subtle difference there… But, as I mentioned, you cannot succeed as a leader without also acting as a strong manager.

You need to be developed enough in your management role in order to move into a leadership/management role and excel in it. Connecting with others is what helps us become a leader and when we combine this with strong management skills, we become invincible.

What is the one non-negotiable?

There is one non-negotiable characteristic important to both and that is trust and trust starts with self-trust. Trust can be understood and evaluated. It starts with the ability to become honest, reliable, and able to express emotion. But, none of this is effective unless we are focused in the right direction and the key is to focus on the power of WE.

As Goleman advises, there are a few actions we can take that can immediately boost our self-awareness and the ability to position ourselves as a trusted leader.

First, learn to become aware of your body language and the body language of others. This is an essential tool for our success because we gain so much information based on this and it helps us to respond appropriately to many situations.

Next, practice mindfulness. When faced with difficult situations, it is easy to become reactive. Mindfulness can guide us in addressing our internal emotions before we act.

And lastly, stay connected to the emotions of others and practice empathy. Self-awareness begins with us but easily translates to understanding others. This is vital to achieving a favorable outcome because when we understand how our actions impact others, we communicate that we care and are willing to adapt to the situation for the benefit of all.

When we find ourselves beautifully balancing between leading and managing, we are unstoppable and we are creating a workforce that is invincible. The truth is we can do things right and do the right things at the same time. We can direct our team and empower them. We can maintain control and inspire. We can manage and lead. Are you doing both?

Strengthen your business. Produce the results you want.