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The Difference Between Leading and Managing

January 13th, 2017 Comments off
Businessman looking at a line between a to b painted on a wall

Though the terms “leadership” and “management” are often used interchangeably, not all managers are leaders and not all leaders are managers. Knowing the difference between leading and managing can give your small business the vision and structure it needs to succeed. Here’s how to figure out if you’re a leader, a manager or both.

Leading

Propelling a small business to new heights is often a leader’s primary concern. Leaders develop an image of what the company could become and devote much of their time to innovation, expansion and improvement. They embrace change and see risk as necessary for progress.

Because of this great enthusiasm for turning possibilities into realities, leaders rally others into action. They bring out the best in staff members by making each individual feel critical to the central mission of the small business. Some may liken a leader to a coach who inspires employees to expand their talents and help the team reach extraordinary levels of accomplishment.

Managing

Creating a vision is one thing, but putting it into action is quite another. Managers “keep it real” and excel at execution. They think about what needs to be done to accomplish goals and may be exceptionally good at sticking to budgets, organizing resources, delegating responsibilities, and staying on track.

Compared to leaders, managers oftentimes focus more on day-to-day operations than on a small business’s long-term strategy. They are aware of the big picture, but they also realize the importance of details, nuts and bolts, and even mundane tasks. Team members depend on managers to help them figure out who, what, where, when, and how so that work gets completed.

The need for both

Undoubtedly, leading and managing can overlap. In fact, small business owners often must do both out of necessity. Resources simply may not exist to hire someone else to carry out plans and supervise daily operations. However, if overseeing execution is not one of your strong points, finding a qualified manager should be high on the to-do list. Not only might this help your small business run more efficiently, it frees up your time to focus on entrepreneurship, networking, and other activities that can help the company grow.

For those great at ensuring the business runs like a well-oiled machine but reluctant to shake up the status quo, hiring charismatic forward-thinkers may be a solution. Also, remember that while leading may seem to come naturally to some people, it is a skill that anyone who wants to can improve. Watch pertinent TED talks. Read books on the subject. Find a mentor to model and offer advice. You soon may find your confidence and leadership abilities soaring.


Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business advice and resources page.