in Business & Marketing

A great leader vs a great manager – Who are you?

In this post I would like to write on the differences between leadership and management. Who are you? A great leader or a great manager?

Leadership is sometimes hard to define but it really involves setting the direction of a company, pointing people into the right direction, inspiring and motivating others to believe and follow. It also means being able to deal with people and knowing how to influence and lead them. I often say that a great leader is someone that can inspire others to feel successful in following them.

Leading other people can be tough because it often requires some radical change or break-through idea and people are often skeptical and afraid of radical change because its hard, sometimes risky and uncertain. So a leader needs to stay focused and be able to slice his or her mission/vision of the company in every which way and allow the organization to challenge it fully and without restriction. Leadership is also about making hard decisions and trade-offs to ensure maximum chances of success as to dilute ones self to thin can be detrimental to the success of the newly set direction.

Management however is very different than leadership. Great leaders often do not make good managers. Management is about planning tasks and measuring the progress of those tasks, prioritizing them, assigning responsibility and ensuring that people are capable and willing to complete tasks with a high degree of efficiency and quality.

Managers ensures the correct steps are taken in the right direction. Management is about setting a process and making sure people follow that process every day so that the company as a whole is moving forward in the right direction. Its about consistency on a day to day basis and getting things done.

There is a reason why great leadership and great management qualities are often not found in the same person. They are quite different to each other, almost on opposite ends of the scale and to do one extremely well often means a lack of ability to do the other.

The good news is that you absolutely do not need both qualities to be successful. What you need is to be self-aware of where your strengths and weaknesses are. Are you a great leader or a great manager? For example, if you have great leadership qualities you need to surround yourself with great managers that will move the ball forward. And if you have great management qualities you need to surround yourself with people that have great leadership qualities to set direction.

Leaders shape the direction of a company and inspire other to follow and feel successfull in following. They can often see around corners and over horizons but are often very bad at finishing things. They are starters. They identify or create opportunity where no one else sees it and get others to believe and follow.

Great managers are great at completing things. They are finishers. They often lack the ability to set direction but excel at completing things and accomplishing set goals. They know how to get there. They know how to get things done.

Entrepreneurs tend to be great leaders because they come up with ideas and have vision, but due to this, often lack management qualities. So for a good startup to succeed entrepreneurs need to surround themselves with great managers to help them get there and reach set goals and ultimately have impact in society.

The key is to be self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses and to surround yourself with the complementary skills that you lack as a person. Because in the end a company is a team of people all working with each other towards a common goal. What wins in the end is an integrated and balanced team, where everyone comes together and combines their strenghts. This makes for an awesome team!

What are you? A great leader or a great manager? Know who you are, and surround yourself with what you are not.

PS. Thank you Mark Suster for inspiring me on Snapchat, which lead me to writing this blog.

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