Leaders and Managers: Are they the same?

As business owners, we tend to think that the roles and qualities of leaders and managers are the same, but they are very different.  By analyzing the qualities of each, we hope to bridge the gap and help managers grow into management leaders.

A manager puts a lot of emphasis on workflow, efficiency, and getting the day to day job done.  Managers are the ones who watch the time clock, count the money, tally the totals, keep track of inventory, and ask questions when jobs are not performed to certain standards.  They tally the tasks to make sure all tasks are completed on time.

A leader is more concerned about the potential growth of the employee and provides opportunities for that employee to reach their full potential.   It doesn’t mean a leader can’t manage.  It just means that their management style cannot be too concerned about work efficiency because growth and learning take more time to produce.

Here are 5 things a manager can do to be a better leader:

Create Opportunities for Employees to Grow:  For example, if inventory needs to be taken, a manager might give an employee an Excel spreadsheet with the inventory items listed in column format and tell the employee to put a quantity number next to each item to designate what is left in stock.

A leader, however, might suggest to the employee to learn the basics of Excel to create their own spreadsheet.  A leader might provide examples of various inventory spread sheets and let the employee create one, based on your company’s needs.  A leader will recognize that in order for the employee to learn, grow, and remain interested in their job, the employee needs to have opportunities to learn new tasks to utilize in other positions or even with other employers.

Cut the Busy Work: A manager will often create work for employees during downtime.  That’s because the manager thinks that more tasks completed equals more productivity.  Therefore, a manager believes that a completed task is time well spent.  If you fall into this mindset, you are not letting your employees grow in ways that can help your company.  For instance, if the day to day tasks are done, remember that the internet houses an unmatched wealth of information.  Instead of creating busy work for your employees to do, ask them to research another method of doing something your company already does.  Ask them to find a way to improve either workflow or production or even have them research various management styles to assist in their professional development.  If you run a restaurant, ask them to come up with a new marketing promotion or run a contest for creating a new spin on a dish that you already make.  This gives your employee the opportunity to learn and gives your company an opportunity to grow and change with the times.  You benefit and so do the employees.  If you are a leader, when the tasks are done, it’s time to learn.  If you are a manager, when the tasks are done, it is time to generate more tasks.

Professional Maturity and Conflict: Avoiding workplace conflict is another area where leaders are different than managers.  If two employees have a conflict with each other, a manager might want to split people up, managing how these two people interact during the day by adjusting their work schedules or by switching desks around.  A leader will instead point out the strengths of both employees and provide opportunities for the employees to work it out and work together.  While a manager is busy getting involved in resolution through adjusting operations, a leader is encouraging the two employees to analyze why they are not getting along and insist that they put professionalism first, move forward with the project, and work it out.  A leader wants to facilitate a change in attitude and professional growth and maintain a strict distance from the conflict.

Pride of Workplace: And finally, leaders encourage their workers to take pride in their jobs and workplace through inclusion.  Leaders will share with front line employees the information they can about the company that are exciting and team building in nature.  Pieces of information a leader can share are the basics of how the company revenue is generated, if profits have increased, who are the biggest competitors, and upcoming marketing campaigns that the employees might be participating in through tracking or by helping to get the word out to existing customers.  Also addressing employee input assists in lifting company pride.  For instance, if an employee asks why a certain task is performed a certain way, and it can’t be changed, address it. Don’t ignore their idea just because you can’t change it.  For instance, employees may want to take an “operations shortcut” to make production faster and easier.  However there may be laws or regulations from preventing you from making the change they are requesting.  Tell them about the regulation so they know you are not ignoring them.  They will be more willing to get the job done and realize that they are part of a larger team functioning in a larger system.  Going into details with flow charts and graphs really isn’t necessary.  Just a basic friendly conversation or meeting in which employees can offer input and be included will go a long way to making sure your employees feel important (because they are) and help you increase their workplace pride.



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