Are you a leader or a manager?

Leadership traits, management styles, how to be a great boss…topics that have dominated discussions in business for as long as we can all remember.  And will continue to for years to come, given that people in these roles hold the keys to success in business.  But is being a leader and a manager the same thing? And can you be both?

What’s the difference?

The main difference between the two is that leaders have a general plan or vision, whereas managers tend to the specifics.  In large corporations, with multi-level management structures and large teams supporting them, you will find CEO’s give their broad plan for the business and then its up to their management teams to execute the plan.

So how does that translate for small business, where there may only be you (the owner) and a small amount of staff?  More than likely it means that you need to be both.  Easier said than done, depending on the type of person you are, but it’s possible.

If you’ve started your business from scratch, you might find that on a day to day basis you’ve tended to the specifics, and even as the business has grown you have continued to do so.  This means there is more on your “to-do” list than ever, so maybe it’s time to hand over some of the specifics and lead those you employ to become the managers of your vision.

What makes an effective leader?

Author Bill Green cites 8 traits of effective leaders:

  1. Self awareness – understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
  2. Decisiveness – make sound decisions, quickly, and don’t be afraid of making the wrong decision.
  3. Fairness – have practices and policies in place to ensure the fair treatment of all.
  4. Enthusiasm – lead by example…if you don’t care, why would your employees?
  5. Integrity – earn respect through your behaviour.
  6. Knowledge – keep your finger on the pulse so you don’t lose touch with your people and the industry in which your business operates.
  7. Creativity and imagination – constantly work on new and innovative ideas to keep your business profitable.  Building a profitable business is hard but keeping it profitable is often harder!
  8. Endurance – persevere, even when things go wrong and know that you won’t always have all the answers.

By taking on the role of leader and delegating the specifics, you allow yourself the time to focus on the big picture and the future of your business.

So what’s your next step?

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