Are small business owners leaders or managers? You might have described yourself as both, interchangeably. But leadership and management are two distinct methods of connecting with your employees, and the difference is more important than you think. Small business owners often put leadership on the back burner while they focus on being managers. Structuring a system of rules and organizing task methods are important for establishing and maintaining a reliable work environment. However, your business isn’t all about the mechanics. Your employees need a greater vision that can inspire them to exceed expectations-- not just their boss’s, but their own, as well. As a leader, it’s your job to provide that vision. Knowing how to define leadership and management won’t just boost your vocabulary skills. When you understand the key traits of each term, you’ll be better able to identify when your employees need a leader and when they need a manager. Then you’ll adjust your business approach accordingly. Not every business owner has to be a manager. While many enjoy playing a hands-on role within the company, it is always possible to outsource management by hiring talent. However, leadership is a must-have tool entrepreneurs need in order to get others behind their business and ultimately, their vision. Here’s what you need to know about leadership and management:
. . . give the company vision. It’s time to put on your “big picture” goggles. Sharing your company’s overall ambitions through a message your employees can get behind will motivate them to reach for excellence. Your vision holds a lot of weight. That’s why when you’re figuring out what exactly your vision is, think about why you started your business in the first place. Did you want to innovate the industry? Provide customer service the way no one else in your field can? Your passion for your business drives you, and it will drive your employees, too. Use these strategies to keep the company vision alive:
--End meetings by explaining how that day’s topic relates to the big picture.
--During performance reviews, ask employees about their personal ambitions, and draw comparisons to the company’s goals.
--Keep your catchy, readable mission statement in a visible place where it will encourage and inspire employees.
. . . unite the work team.
Unlike managers, leaders do not delegate tasks to individual employees. Instead, they work to ensure that their work team is operating as a cohesive unit. When ideas and efforts are collaborated, quality of work and employee satisfaction reach peak levels.
So how do you encourage employees to come together? If you’re following through with the previous leadership task, you’re halfway there. Employees need a common goal to unite them, and your company mission is just that.
You can also take the time to bring employees together through personal experiences. Try taking your employees out to lunch, and then encourage them to share their stories over good food. Learning about each others’ backgrounds will allow employees to better understand their co-workers, which in turn will help them collaborate more effectively to create better quality work.
Finally, when work-related conflict begins to push at team bonds, don’t try to suppress it. Instead, create a safe space where this conflict can be explored and resolved by the team as a whole. When people overcome a hurdle together, they arrive on the other side closer than ever.
. . .provide guidance by setting an example. As a leader, your employees are going to be looking up to you. Who do you want them to see? Embodying the example of your ideal worker will set the bar for how well your employees perform. In order to be the example of the best, you need to figure out what best means to you. What do you want out of your employees? Maybe your business has a hard time getting the day started. Make a habit of showing up promptly; pretty soon, you’ll be running a company of early-birds. What if you’re facing the consequences of a mistake? Face conflict head-on and change a failure into a learning opportunity. Your employees will admire your ability to bounce back and become inspired to take a more active approach when dealing with their own crises. Managers
. . . create structure. Managers want to see concrete products that are moving the company towards realizing the leader’s vision. That’s why managers put systems into place that will materialize results. These systems can include the creation and enforcement of rules: if you’re instructing your employees to arrive at 9 AM sharp in business casual attire, you’re managing. . . . recognize talent and delegate tasks accordingly. As a manager, you’ll need to decide who is the right fit for each job opening your business offers. Interviews are always a great way to do this, but if you’re hiring from within, you have the opportunity to observe your employee’s work strategies. Identify and assess their strengths and how they might be able to use these abilities to take on greater responsibility or perhaps even a new role within the company.
. . . provide order and maintain supervision. Unlike leaders, managers to do not allow employees the freedom to operate independently. Managers need to ensure business is running smoothly by regularly overseeing operations. While leaders provide motivation by supplying their employees’ with a big picture vision, managers provide order by outlining short-term goals and immediate needs that must be met.