When you run your own business with staff, how you manage your people is something that will have a huge impact on your company. The culture within your business, how well you can retain talented people, and even your brand will be affected by the management styles and techniques you choose to use, and the attitude you display towards your teams.
One thing that is often said by management gurus is that the best bosses are people who exhibit real leadership qualities. What is often less well defined is what the actual difference is between management and leadership, and how you can be a leader.
Some people think it is an innate trait, which of course it can be – some people are natural leaders and described as such even in childhood. However, it is also certainly possible to become a good leader, and even those with a natural leaning toward leadership roles need to refine their approaches to get the most out of the people they lead.
Here are three ways a leader differentiates themselves from a manager:
Leading by Example
While some managers may rest on their laurels, a good leader shows the same drive to improve what he or she wants from their staff. They are always seen to be seeking out new ideas and opportunities and looking for sources that may help them better themselves as a professional.
A good way to lead by example in this way could be to study qualifications relevant to your field, for instance taking a Norwich University Masters in Executive Leadership (Norwich University is a college that offers this masters as an online program). This demonstrates that while you are a competent manager, you still know there is room to improve and are putting in the work to do it – a great example for your team.
Listening – But Making the Final Decision
Some managers make decisions and tell their teams later. Others ask everybody what they think and spend many hours in consultation with every stake holder trying to find an answer that pleases everyone. A leader, however, seeks out the viewpoints and ideas of the people in their business, but is not afraid to put a nail in the conversation at the right time and make a firm decision.
Decisive leadership that also makes people feel their opinions are listened to is the key here.
Innovation and Continuous Improvement
A third difference between leaders and managers is that leaders are not afraid to innovate within their businesses and take things into new territories. They are not resistant to adopting new ways of doing things, or trying out suggestions from within their teams that could improve efficiency or make the business stronger. They do their due diligence and don’t take crazy risks but have a firm belief that there are always ways the business could be upping its game, and have the drive to look for them.
These are three important ways that an exceptional leader differentiates themselves from a mediocre boss.