Are you a leader? A manager? Or both?

You may manage a team, but does that mean you are a leader? And what is the difference?

Last year, I ran several management coaching sessions for a West End professional services practice. One of the directors was keen that her team would develop, and strengthen, their soft skills.

The 12, all managers, were around their mid-30s, fully engaged and keen to learn new skills. Would I say all were leaders? No, at least not yet, but most showed potential to be not only great managers but leaders too. What I loved about this group was their dynamism and enthusiasm which translated into a willingness to change.

So, why do I say some were managers and not leaders? According to Professor Ros ]Taylor, CEO of RTC Leadership, in her book ‘Fast Track to the Top’, the 10 commandments of leadership are having the ability to:

  • problem solve
  • deliver the goods
  • wish to win
  • relate
  • trust your team
  • de-stress
  • love change
  • know yourself
  • strike a deal
  • be confident

Some of the team lacked confidence, others didn’t know themselves well,while others found it difficult to de-stress. Most of the leadership capabilities described by Professor Taylor can be learned in time but are some innate?

Elements of Success

Both leaders and managers are important to the success of a business. Many entrepreneurs may be leaders but they are not necessarily managers, they need others to take on the managerial roles.

Let’s explore that:

  • Leaders are unique – ‘great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion’ Jack Kerouac
  • They create a vision and have a long -term goal
  • They are change agents and risk takers; they build teams of followers – ‘People really need to feel wanted’ Richard Branson

Leadership has many styles

Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, describes six styles of leadership: visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting and commanding. And different styles are needed at different times in an organisation’s life cycle.

The Visionary – when an organisation needs a new goal or vision or when people need a positive leader to move them towards shared goals.

The Coach – connects the individual’s goals with those of the organisation. A highly positive style when improving performance and building long-term capabilities.

The Affiliate – brought in when there is dissonance in an organisation. Their job is to heal rifts, motivate and strengthen relationships.

The Democrat – a perfect style for achieving buy-in or consensus from personnel, especially when an organisation is dealing with change.

The Pacesetter – this style is most effective with highly engaged, motivated and competent teams. In other circumstances it can have a negative effect.

The Commander – in a crisis, such as a turn-around, or with problem employees, this style works, but only in the short term. Can have a highly negative impact if not used with caution.

Leaders can also be Fierce! Fierce Leaders stand out; they are customer-centric. Their ‘comfort zone’ ? Tackling challenges head-on.

In her book, ‘Fierce Leadership’, Susan Scott describes this as the capacity to acquire emotional capital, building a different quality of relationship, telling the truth and behaving ethically.

Something we expect from our leaders and are now demanding, across the world, in a more and more vocal manner.

Great managers are the cornerstone of success

Without great managers great leaders may fail. They rely on their right-hand to keep their vision on course. To set, measure and achieve goals. To input and hone systems and processes that will meet or exceed objectives.

Managers rely on existing, proven skills. They aim to reduce risk rather than embrace it and are comfortable working to short term goals. They have ‘staff’ rather than ‘followers’. They assign tasks and provide guidance on how to accomplish them.

Transitioning from Manager to Leader

While leadership is about innovation and vision, sound management ensures the job gets done. And you need sound management to move from visionary chaos to the order that delivers success. 

Warren Bennis, author of ‘On Becoming a Leader’ believes that leaders are made not born. And those who transition to leadership bring with them an arsenal of skills developed during their managerial phase. 

I repeat: today, we need great leaders more than ever before.

Sandi Goddard is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management and founder of TRU Leaders, a virtual board and workshop for female entrepreneurs.

MD of Goddard Delaney, she is a strategic brand and business consultant, business mentor and leadership coach and founder of Sandi Goddard’s Room Upstairs Lunches

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