The terms leader and manager might be interchangeable to some, but in business, they mean quite different things. The strengths and weaknesses, skillsets, goals, and personalities of natural leaders and natural managers are usually disparate in many ways. While they may have some similar or parallel aspirations, they often want vastly different things from their careers.
Middle Market firms trying to fit managers in leader roles or vice versa typically end up disappointed. Knowing the difference between each and being able to spot them in the wild is vital to ensure success. Before you begin sorting your leaders, it’s important to understand why each is key to your success.
Why Your Company Needs Talented Managers
Employee management, technology and even the term ‘work’ have evolved, yet many things remain the same. Work must get done well, efficiently, on time and to customers’ desired specifications. Employees need motivation, accountability, and someone to help guide and steer their career development. Managers are necessary to hit those benchmarks. Typically, managers do a lot of the day to day “running” of business. They are usually more in the trenches with their teams and have accountabilities as such.
Skilled managers are necessary to build and maintain team dynamics. Also, they provide timely & specific feedback and deal with employee issues. Lastly, they put out fires and recognize and demonstrate appreciation for individuals.
Why Your Company Needs Talented Leaders
Leaders bring many essential skills to your teams, including the ability to see and drive the big picture. Your organization needs leaders to plan strategically now and in the future. Leaders can keep everyone on the same page. And, leaders are often fantastic communicators and are able to impart your message successfully.
Leaders typically possess visionary insight into what ‘the next big thing’ might be. Also, they understand a high-level view of the entirety of a business. Lastly, they have the charisma and personality organizations need to attract customers, partners, lenders, and employees.
How To Spot A Natural Leader
Without being too general, most natural leaders like being out front, enjoy the spotlight and aren’t afraid of taking risks. They might be the first to speak up in meetings or take on leadership activities without being asked. Look for dynamic personalities and the ability to look beyond normal constraints or think up new innovations. You might find your leaders are better speakers and communicators but aren’t fantastic at the little details or making sure everything is well documented and completed as needed.
How To Spot A Natural Manager
A 2015 Gallup study suggests only 1 in 10 people have natural manager capabilities and tendencies. It would seem a lot more people are pushed into management roles than actually are naturally inclined to succeed at the role. Managers are typically great at managing themselves first – their time, job functions, organization, etc. They tend to be interested in others’ careers along with their own. Natural managers not only have visions for their team but a defined strategy and the ability to act upon it. Managers know career and individual development are a priority, and they plan time for one-on-one interactions with all their employees.
How To Use Both Leaders And Managers More Effectively
To be blunt, stop trying to make leaders be managers and managers be leaders. When you spot a natural at either role, nurture those skills and tendencies rather than trying to curtail them. Get better at evaluating your teams for management and leadership traits and to develop each. Be very clear about what roles are leadership roles and which are management. When you hire or promote, be certain the person falls in line with the duties of the role.
Work to ensure your leadership and management roles are geared towards the skills and tendencies of each. Minimize requirements and tasks that don’t play to their strengths or desires. Managers might need more structure and support – both from above and below. Leaders might need more room to try and fail and less structure to their environment.
Understanding why your Middle Market firm needs both strong managers and leaders and learning how to spot, hire and develop is key to your success. Identifying, hiring and nurturing each with their own respective strengths and needs in mind is a lofty goal, but one your organization should focus on.
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