The difference of leading versus managing

The difference between Leading versus managing at work

How to understand the difference of leading versus managing

Lao Tzu said it perfectly, “When the best leader’s work is done the people say, we did it ourselves.”

While leading and managing are different, the two work hand in hand; to be effective we need the ideal balance of both.

In my opinion, the key distinction between leading versus managing is that management is a process whereas leadership is a behaviour.

As managers, we understand what our end goals are, we put processes in place to achieve them and we make sure our teams have the tools they need to succeed.

That’s the easy part! We still need to build the culture and instil the work ethic to motivate a strong loyal team to execute the process efficiently.

Welcome to the world of leadership.

As a passionate leader, I know that the biggest challenge in business is developing and maintaining a motivated and inspired team, a team that will execute set strategies to a level that exceeds all expectations.

When times are tough and the workload is overwhelming, it can be easy to rely on management over leadership.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”Peter Drucker

What are the indicators of an imbalance of management over leadership?

Now that we’ve established the difference between leading versus managing, here are some key signs you are heavily weighted on the management scale:

1. You speak up about the negatives and fail to mention the positives

As important as it is to ensure your team do the right thing, if you find yourself spending more time focusing on the negatives, you’re not going to inspire them to work hard for you.

Recognise the positive whenever possible and your crew will work hard to maintain the appreciation you have for them.

The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” – Kenneth H. Blanchard

2. You tell people what to do instead of asking them what they think they should do

Telling your team what to do or how to behave is all well and good if you want to continue telling them for the duration of yours and their career.

During a performance or disciplinary based conversation, discussing options and asking questions to help guide your team in the right direction not only gets buy-in from them, it allows them to learn how to deal with future situations so they won’t need to come to you for the same reason again.

The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” – Thomas Berger

3. You criticise instead of develop

Criticising your team’s mistakes will only deflate their attitude, we all know how important a positive attitude is to achieving success.

Use mistakes and underperformance as opportunities to coach your team so they will know what to do if they were to find themselves in the same situation again.

Allow your team to know that it is perfectly okay to make mistakes if they learn from them because knowledge without experience is useless.

4. You take the credit for your team’s hard work instead of crediting your team for their hard work

Recognition comes from within. As a leader, use the achievement of your goals and objectives as personal recognition for yourself and allow the team working hard for you to accept the applause.

If you take the credit for the results of the team, not only will your team feel under-appreciated, you miss the opportunity to build a strong and loyal culture.

Build a high performing self-managed team by giving them full accountability and rewards for their performance; this is the ultimate sign of having the perfect balance of leadership and management.

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who gets the credit.” – Harry S. Truman

The Importance of Great Leadership

Now that we have established some indicators of an unbalanced workplace, let’s look at the importance of great leadership.

A leader is someone who guides through inspiring and effective behaviour, someone who helps their team to achieve not only their career-related goals but personal ones too.

As managers and leaders, we make significant choices on a regular basis.

The choices we make can have life-changing effects on staff, whether positive or negative.

Considering this, it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to help them progress and succeed.

When your team are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, their output and work ethic will drive results that will make any business shine. Not to mention, it will create a culture that drives your team to succeed every day.

What are the indicators you’re getting leadership right? 

We’ve already established the difference between leading versus managing and now I share the tips on how to ensure you are getting your leadership right.

1. You know how to listen effectively

Listening to your team will determine how effective you are as a leader. And by listening, I mean listening objectively with a clear mind.

We all have prior experiences and preconceptions that cloud our judgement, but in the world of people management, EVERYONE is different. When you listen, you listen like the words you are hearing are gold. No daydreaming or dismissing.

Give your team the time to share their thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Heed this advice and I guarantee your business will benefit because your team will feel loved.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” – Bryant H. McGill

2. Be an open resource

If you find yourself in a position of leadership, it is likely because you had someone develop your own abilities. In turn, provide the same service to your peers.

Holding on to what makes you great only makes you irreplaceable, and no one wants to promote someone they can’t replace.

So, share your knowledge with anyone willing to hear it, to absorb it and to take it on.

Be an open resource and share what makes you great, not only will you develop a fantastic leadership team underneath you, you will open yourself up for promotion and growth.

Growing other leaders from the ranks isn’t the duty of the leader, it’s an obligation.” – Warren Bennis

3. Always be objective

When you are dealing with issues in the business, try to be as objective as possible. Get the facts straight and never let the opinion of someone else affect your own.

There are two sides to EVERY story, make sure you listen to both and act only on firsthand information.

Every individual has their own journey and experience, you will be surprised at what you can learn about people if you allow them to share openly in a trusting environment.

If you have someone’s trust, always respect it.

4. Set expectations and get buy-in

You can only manage your team performance if you set and agree on clear expectations together.

Do this by clearly communicating their goals and objectives, then discuss strategies that will help achieve them.

The best way to do this is by asking them questions and allowing them to come up with their own strategies. This way they are involved in the process and you both come to a mutual agreement on what suits them best.

If for some reason the goal or objective is missed, it can be managed effectively. People hate being told what to do but they love being involved in the decision-making process.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organisational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

5. Have a good moral compass

My final tip on leading versus managing is to do the right thing.

To be a great leader is to set the ultimate example.

Do the right thing by people, make decisions that you are proud of and preach ethics that you live by.

Direct marketing is an industry heavily tainted by the unpleasant habits passed down from outdated and negative sales behaviours.

That doesn’t mean you need to follow the same path; create your own path and project this culture on to your team.

Be transparent, keep them in the loop and make decisions that are best for both your team and business.

Whenever you are selling, coaching or making decisions you should always ask yourself; “how would I feel if I was on the receiving end?”

If the answer isn’t positive, you need to revisit your strategy.

Moral authority comes from following universal and timeless principles like honesty, integrity and treating people with respect.” – Stephen Covey

Recommended reading: The top 7 traits of all successful leaders

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About Glendon Evarts 1 Article
Glendon has over 12 years experience in both NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and contact centres both domestically and internationally.

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