Leaders tend to be leaders, no matter where they go. But there is a big difference—and a slippery slope—between leadership and management. And trust us, you want to fall on the leadership side of that slope.
Managers provide direction. Leaders provide direction and motivation. Managers provide instruction. Leaders provide instruction for a greater life, day in and day out. That is the difference between managing and leading.
Maybe you’re in a management role and have specific duties to accomplish and benchmarks to achieve. But still, you never want to find yourself in a position where you’re managing employees, especially if you’re an entrepreneur or working for one. The thing is, people can manage themselves. Your team comes “battery included” and needs little more than to be held accountable for achieving certain results.
But what about training, you ask? Employee training is different than management. Training, helping co-solve a problem, or providing advice for professional growth—those are all good things. What isn’t a good thing is trying to convince a team member that they want to be on your team. Grouchy, pessimistic and generally unsatisfied team members will serve no purpose than wasting your time and energy as you try to motivate and encourage them. Don’t waste your time.
Managing your team—versus leading your team—will give employees a crutch. They will count on you for constant inspiration, and then get angry and quit when you can’t provide it. And what human can inspire others, on demand, always?
Not only that, but when those angry employees leave, you’re left with a team that has learned to ask for inspiration rather than find it on their own. They have been taught by bad example, and it will come back to bite you…
Leadership, however, is where it’s at. By providing your team with an upbeat work environment with plentiful opportunities to grow and learn, they won’t need motivation to work hard. They won’t need to be convinced that your firm or company is amazing and awesome and the greatest place to work ever. Rather, employees will be self-fulfilled and self-motivated—at least those employees who come “batteries included.” Simply providing your staff with leadership in the direction you should all be working towards, as a team, is the greatest mark of a true leader. You don’t need to jumpstart your team every day. You don’t need to micro-manage every little task because your people have no idea what they’re doing, how to do it, or why they’re doing or. You just need to practice employee empowerment and guide your team towards a common goal.
So, how do you know if you’re managing or leading your team? Ask yourself these questions:
Do your people come to you with complaints, looking for a pep talk and a pat on the back before sending them back into the game, coach?
Or do your people come to you with complaints…and a proposed solution?
Pep talks are overrated. Living in the problem works to no positive end. Employees who live in the solution help rid you and your team of negativity and hand-holding. And it helps develop and grow employees into leaders who will step up and grow your firm or business.
You only have a limited amount of financial and human resources to invest in your people. Use it wisely. Use it for “great;” not for “good enough.” Great team members will step up and lead, and will manage themselves. Which leaves you in a position to lead more, manage less, and experience real success, sooner.