Leadership and management are not in competition – they’re both crucial for success, says Shweta Jhajharia
But while Jobs was envisioning the iPhone, Steve Wozniak was actually seeing to it that Apple was being built. While Bill Gates imagined a PC on every desk, Paul Allen was building Microsoft. Next to these leaders was an equally impressive manager.
Leadership and management are not in competition. They are distinct and complementary systems of action. Each has its own required functions and activities. And both are important for success.
As a business owner, you may not have the luxury of having a Wozniak by your side. Many of us must wear both hats. It is therefore critical for you to make a distinction between your roles as leader and manager, and be aware of what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
There are three essentials in every business: deciding what needs to be done; creating networks of people who can accomplish this; and ensuring these employees actually do their job. As a leader and as a manager, you will play very different – but equally critical – roles.
1. Deciding what needs to be done
Leaders need to set the direction of the business and develop the vision of the future. Managers should set targets, create plans, and allocate resources in order to achieve that future.
2. Creating networks of people who can accomplish this
As a leader you align people and communicate the direction to the key personnel who create leverage and move the vision forward. You will come in on a quarterly or monthly basis to remind people of the vision and therefore re-energise the team.
As a manager you should create organisational structure, defining a set of roles that will be required to achieve goals. You should ensure that the right, qualified people are filling the correct roles and manage the recruitment and delegation processes.
3. Ensuring people actually do their job
Leaders motivate and inspire people. Tap into emotions in order to get them moving in the right direction and get them excited about getting there.
As a manager you control problems and systemise the solutions. You should monitor the plan in detail, keeping a close eye on the numbers in the reports and trackers, and identifying deviations. You should then re-plan and re-organise accordingly.
You can start to see how, in an SME context, the management side of things is the more critical part of running the company. Creating those common goals, forming an action plan, ensuring there are rules that your employees abide by – these are the things that will tell you how well you are leading.
In most corporates, managers will sit at various levels of the company, monitoring employees. There is usually no one relaying the purpose, re-energising the motivations and inspiring employees to align with company culture.
Most SMEs, however, are undermanaged and over-led. For most SME business owners leadership comes naturally – people are automatically inspired. If you are undermanaging your employees, you could end up with a team who are excited to be working with you, but who are unable to deliver. That’s because they need systems – and you’re responsible for building them.
SME leaders need to become more focused on management, not leadership, if they want their vision to become a reality.