Everyone can be a leader whether they have the title to go with it or not. Then there are leaders that have the title but do not lead very well at all. And then there are those who confuse being a manager with being a leader. I recognised at the age of 18 that I wanted to be a leader. Thankfully over the past 15 years I have had many opportunities to lead, with a lot of these opportunities occurring in my Church. In the business world I’ve also had many opportunities to manage, looking after teams of various sizes and across varying business areas. Often I find myself sitting down in my regular coffee shop on a Saturday afternoon and reflecting on whether I am managing or leading – checking that I am still clear on the difference between the two.
Through self-evaluation I realise that I often get the two mixed up – I’m managing when I think I’m leading, and I lead when I think I’m managing. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. In fact it is actually a great thing because I’ve come to learn that although they are not the same thing, they very much go hand in hand. So understanding how to do both well can yield great results?
First, let’s look at the difference between leadership and management: A manager has subordinates and people who work for him or her. A leader, on the other hand, has willing followers, sold into the vision and direction of the leader. A leader inspires and challenges; a manager gets things done by establishing processes to carry out the strategy that has been set. You manage things, but lead people.
In my current role I manage a team of 15 people across different business areas and offices, ranging from Warehouse, to Marketing and Sales. I have gleaned very valuable lessons over the past few years from my failures. That is to say that I’ve made many mistakes and have disciplined myself to soak up every ounce of wisdom from each setback.
I’ve heard people say that experience makes you wiser. The more you do something, the better you will be. Wrong. Granted, it will become easier the more times you do it, whatever ‘it’ is, but that’s because the unfamiliar becomes familiar. Your nerves and uncertainty are replaced with feelings of being comfortable and knowing what to expect. But it doesn’t make you a better worker, let alone manager or leader. Experience alone is not enough. It’s evaluated experience that counts. It’s taking the time to review and evaluate every success as well as failure so you learn as much about what works as well as what doesn’t. You then adapt and change accordingly. Being a good manager and leader is a constantly evolving process, and requires a great deal of flexibility and the willingness to change direction, sometimes even a full 180 degrees!
I do my best to work from a place of humility and openly admitting that I don’t have all the answers. I relieve myself of the pressure of having all the answers to all the problems and issues that arise within my company. If I don’t do that, then the alternative is for me to pretend to know when I really don’t, which takes us down the path of poor and maybe even disastrous decision-making, all for the sake of my pride.
As a leader I innovate, working alongside and developing my team. I invest heavily in myself so that I can invest the fruit of my own development into my team. I wish for each member of my team to reach his or her potential, running the risk of developing them ‘out’ of the company. I believe this is good leadership. You must earn the trust of the men you are trying to lead by placing their needs before your own, and make it apparent that this is the case. Often when you help others get what they want, you will end up getting what you want. And doing this enables me to inspire trust.
As manager I also need to ensure a degree of control, ensuring that trust is followed up and given opportunities to be tested. Otherwise there is the risk of being too naive and trust is abused. I try to balance the immediate maintenance of the business on a daily and weekly basis, with the longrange perspective. I keep one eye on today and one eye on the horizon.
Forgive me if I am talking as if I have attained the status of a great manager and/or leader. I am sharing my efforts, rather than my results. So how do I, and how would you, keep track of progress? If you want to know if you manage well, look at the figures. If you want to know if you’re a good leader, look at the people and ask yourself honestly – Would they follow me if they didn’t get paid for what they do?
領導者 vs 管理者