Managers and leaders. They’re one and the same, right? The short answer is “NO”. The concept does cause confusion, for although it is relatively easy to distinguish between the two roles, many people are both (or at least, try to be both).
Managers by definition have a position of power over others, usually through having subordinates. Managers organise, direct and control their team in order to achieve goals, and specialise in maintaining the status quo rather than taking risks. They have an authoritative, transactional style, in the sense that they make orders and subordinates follow through in return for a reward (i.e. a salary). Managers are work-oriented, and pass this work focus on to their subordinates.
Leaders, on the other hand, set the direction. They challenge the norm, take risks, and seek new ways of working towards goals. Leaders have a charismatic, transformational style that is people-centric and inspirational in nature. They do not have subordinates (unless of course they are also managers), because to be in a position of leadership you must give up formal authoritarian control. After all, to lead is to have followers, and following must always be a voluntary action.
Despite having some overlap, there are fundamental differences between the two roles – mainly the way in which they motivate those around them. Each requires a different skill set, and few people are innately good at both. That being said, it does not mean that managers cannot become leaders.
To lead is to have followers, and following must always be a voluntary action.
So, as a manager, why should you look to expand your leadership skills, and what are the benefits for you and your team?
Leaders Don’t Have to Be Managers
Leaders can be found at any level of an organisation; we have already established that you don’t need managerial authority in order to gain a following. What’s more, not everyone is cut out to be a manager – many people do not possess the right organisational or emotional abilities to carry out this role effectively.
On the other hand, it has been recognised that to be an effective manager requires qualities and competencies in six key areas – one of which is leadership. This is especially true of the new-millennium workplace in which we find ourselves today; the old-fashioned views of a manager’s duties just don’t cut it anymore.
Rather than aspiring to micromanage your team (an extremely unhealthy, yet unfortunately very common habit), a good manager will place faith in their employees to get the job done. In the past, delegation was seen as a key management skill but nowadays we know that it is far more important to inspire your colleagues.
As a manager who aspires to be a leader, it is important that you walk your own talk! By giving your subordinates a level of responsibility and the opportunity to make independent decisions, your are leading by example and instilling a sense of trust and mutual respect into the team. Ultimately this will result in a healthier, more productive work environment.
Which leads us on to our next point…
Employees Will Be More Productive
There is a direct correlation between good leadership and levels of productivity. Good leaders will focus on finding ways to work smarter, not harder. Instead of piling on the pressure to make employees work faster or for longer hours, they will spend time and effort analysing what they do and take steps to eliminate tasks that add little value or detract from the actual goal.
Rather than aspiring to micromanage your team, a good manager will place faith in their employees to get the job done.
When a team is able to see how their efforts directly affect output, it helps them feel more motivated and have an appreciation for what they are doing. At the same time, they understand that everyone is working towards the same goal and will gain mutual respect for one another. This results in increased productivity across the board, and employees that feel inspired and motivated by their leader.
Reduce Stress and Boost Team Morale
Workplace stress levels are at an all time high; according to research, 80% of employees feel stressed or overwhelmed in the workplace, with “team dynamics” directly affecting the majority of reported issues. Being part of a team can be a quick road to frustration and burnout, but leaders can help turn this around.
A good leader will set the tone and lead by example. They will encourage healthy work relationships, get to know their team members, and let them know that the work they do is valued. Unsurprisingly, there is a direct correlation between happiness and productivity, with growing evidence suggesting that when employees are happy, organisations thrive.
Your employees are your most important assets, so look after them. If your team dynamics are suffering, take a look at our team development and stress management programmes which are guaranteed to reduce employee absences and increase productivity. Get in touch and let us know how we can help you better your business.