To be a leader you don’t necessarily have to be a Manager. But to be a good Manager you need to be an effective leader. The difference between leaders and Managers is that leaders lead and Managers manage. Leaders have people who follow them and Managers have a team that they oversee.
So if you’re eyeing off a managerial position, how can you ensure that you balance great leadership with effective management skills?
How do leaders and Managers stack up?
Someone who is as much an effective leader as they are a capable Manager will always accomplish more than a Manager who is not a strong leader. Makes sense, right?
That’s why it pays to work on your leadership skills in tandem with your management skills.
The role of a Manager
Within an organisation, a Manager is responsible for supervising and co-ordinating a team of employees. Their main goals are to ensure productivity and the smooth running of the company (or the area they are responsible for). They do this by overseeing operations, assessing resources, evaluating team performance and implementing business strategies. It’s also their job to keep the company’s business goals in their sights and to ensure that employees are committed to achieving these goals, too.
The role of a leader
A leader in business may not always work in a supervisory role, and it’s a little harder to define than a Manager’s role as it’s not a strict job title. However, having strong leaders within a company, especially at a managerial level, is critical for a business’s success.
Leaders in business are often those people who are seen as innovative, bold, self-aware, and who are not afraid to make mistakes so long as they learn from them.
Therefore, the role of a leader can be defined as someone who encourages the success of others, who advocates for positive change and innovation, and who can make difficult decisions. They are also someone who inspires and motivates others.
Reconciling effective leadership and management
You can easily see how these two different roles fit together, and why it’s important to combine the skills of a leader and a Manager. But you can also see how not all Managers have what it takes to be good leaders.
Advantages of effective leadership in business
1. Boosts morale
If you have the right kind of leadership and interpersonal skills, you’ll be able to inspire those around you and ensure that morale remains high.
Morale is important for any business, no matter how large or small. Low morale equals poor productivity and high turnover rates.
A good leader is able to boost team morale in a number of ways. They can do this by creating a supportive environment to work in, and by letting team members know that their work is appreciated. By making team members feel valued and supported, a good leader can drive teams to achieve higher targets (whether this is through a reward system or otherwise), while also instilling loyalty and encouraging personal and professional growth.
2. Encourages engagement
Engagement is closely tied to morale. The higher the morale in the company, the more engaged employees will feel. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll find one without the other.
If an employee is not feeling engaged, they’re not giving their job their all. The best-case scenario here is that they’re delivering the bare minimum required of their job. The worst-case scenario is that they’re so unengaged that they’re actively looking for work.
However, if an employee feels respected and appreciated, is engaged and takes pride in their work, then they’re more likely to deliver a better quality of work and to remain loyal.
3. Drives effective communication
A good leader is always transparent. They say what they’ll do and do what they say, thus always keeping their team in the loop.
When employees are not made aware of certain business decisions, or they hear things from a different source that is not their Manager, it can lead to doubt. It can also make them feel left out of the conversation, which is not good for morale.
There are many different types of leadership styles, some which are less hands-on than others. But one of the best ways to make employees feel respected and appreciated is by including them in decision-making processes and by keeping them in the loop about what’s happening with the business. Transparency creates an environment of trust and support, which comes back to our point about making team members feel valued and supported, which can help to boost morale.
Not being transparent as a Manager can also have serious consequences. After all, it’s hard for employees to respect or trust a Manager who never follows through on anything they say. Good leaders never make promises they can’t keep and are straight-up with their team members.
4. Always looking for ways to improve
A capable Manager will always ensure that the business is running smoothly and that productivity remains high. That’s the difference between someone who is just a Manager, and someone who is a true leader: a leader will always be searching for new and improved ways to reach higher targets. Whether it’s about productivity, cost effectiveness or efficiency, a good leader always has one eye focused on the future instead of just being satisfied with things the way they are.
Leaders also care about their teams and are committed to investing in their personal and professional development. This works in two ways – to help the company improve by investing in its people, and by encouraging loyalty by letting employees know the company has their back. Investing in ongoing development is an important part of talent retention.
What does ‘mind the gap’ mean in business?
It’s synonymous with train travel – that reminder for passengers to ‘mind the gap’ as they board or disembark.
In business, ‘mind the gap’ can refer to internal and external aspects of a company.
Externally, it asks you to think about the customer’s needs and what they’re missing right now. Look for pain points with your customers where their needs are not being met. How can you meet this need? How can you do better than your competitors right now?
Internally, it can refer to areas of improvement within the company. By spotting areas where something is missing, you gain the opportunity to fix the problem before it becomes a big issue or is exploited by your competition.
It can be hard to spot this missing areas because they’re essentially blind spots. If the company is running smoothly, then how do you fix a problem that’s not immediately obvious?
That’s why you need good Managers and leaders who are willing to go the extra mile to discover these blind spots and to ‘mind the gap’.
Sometimes, if a blind spot has existed for a long time, minding the gap means implementing new practices, making drastic changes and being accountable. For some, this could be a daunting task that they’re not ready for. Again, that’s why you need Managers and leaders who are capable of stepping up to the plate, getting the organisation on board and making sure things are done right.
Not minding the gap can lead to disastrous and tragic consequences, as this article from the Harvard Business School argues in the case of Boeing. Without strong leaders in top positions, a company risks its profits and its reputation.
Where can I study a business and leadership course?
If you’re looking to learn more about becoming both an effective Manager and a confident leader, then OC can help.
As these courses are both offered online, you’ll have the flexibility and freedom to study whenever you want, wherever you are. Studying online is a particularly convenient option for those who are working full time and want to study to improve their career opportunities.
What are you waiting for? Take the next step forward in your career and enrol with OC today.