Why your team needs LESS leadership

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Written by Shweta Jhajharia on 10 February 2015 in Opinion

Shweta Jhajharia explains why businesses and employees need less leadership – not more

Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. These are the people that most business owners aspire to; leaders with incredible vision who have built empires through their powerful leadership.

But while Steve Jobs was envisioning the iPhone, Steve Wozniak was building Apple. While Bill Gates imagined a PC on every desk, Paul Allen was building Microsoft. Next to these monolith leaders was an equally monolith manager.

Leadership and management are NOT in competition – one is not better or more important than the other. Each has its own required functions and activities. And both are essential for success.

In fact, if you have leadership in an organisation with ineffective management, it could be much more disastrous than the reverse.

As the business owner, many of us must wear the hats of both the leader and the manager. It is therefore critical to make a distinction between your roles and be aware of what you're doing and how you're doing it.

There are three essentials in every business and explains how the roles of leader and manager differ for each:

1. Deciding WHAT needs to be done.

2. Creating NETWORKS OF PEOPLE who can accomplish this.

3. Ensuring these people ACTUALLY DO their job.

In these three essentials, as a "leader" and as a "manager", you will play very different – but equally critical – roles. Let’s look at each in turn:

  1. Deciding WHAT needs to be done

Leader - sets the direction of the business and develops the vision of the future.

Manager - sets targets, creates plans, and allocates resources in order to achieve that future.

  1. Creating NETWORKS OF PEOPLE who can accomplish this

Leader - aligns people and communicates the direction to the key personnel who create leverage and move the vision forward.

Manager - creates the organisational structure, including a set of roles that will be required to achieve the goals.

  1. Ensuring people ACTUALLY DO their job

Leader - motivates and inspires people by tapping into emotions in order to get them moving in the right direction and get them excited about getting there.

Manager - controls problems and systemises the solutions, as well as monitoring the plan in detail and identifying, and correcting, any deviations.

In SMEs, leadership is overrated

In an SME, the management side of things is actually the more critical part of running the company.

In most corporates, you'll find they are over-managed and under-led. Managers will sit at various levels of the company, monitoring people. There is usually no one relaying the purpose, re-energising the motivations and inspiring the employees to align with the company culture.

Most SMEs, however, are undermanaged and over-led. SME business owners are inspired, excited entrepreneurs who overflow with passion and charisma. The leadership comes naturally – people are automatically inspired. If you, as a leader, are undermanaging your employees, you could end up with a team who are really excited to be working with you, but who are simply unable to deliver. That's because they need systems to deliver. And the manager builds the systems: so you need to be the manager.

SME leaders need to become more focused on management, not leadership, if they want to start seeing the visions they have for their business become a reality.


About the author

Shweta Jhajharia is principal coach and founder of The London Coaching Group


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