The terms leadership and management are often found side by side. This means it can be easy to assume they perhaps mean the same thing. So, let’s say your business lands a new contract — this is a good place to start to break down these two qualities and differentiate them. Planning and organisation, putting the right tools in place, making sure everything’s on track; these all require the skills of a manager. Yet, at the same time, you will have to consider how to go about motivating your team. Choosing the right people for the job in hand, setting an example, communicating what you want to achieve, making it clear how important the contract is for the company; these are just some of the areas where leadership skills come into play.
Getting the right balance between leadership and management can be difficult, so understanding the differences is essential to excelling in both.
What should a management skillset contain?
An important aspect of management lays in the planning stages — for a specific job or target. A good manager will ensure that their planning is effective by efficiently using the available resources to meet that objective. For example, correctly estimating the amount of time it may take to complete a task is a skill all managers should ideally possess.
Post planning, managers must organise and set task objectives. This can include splitting the end goal into specific ‘mini goals’ for different team members, making sure everyone has the right resources to complete their tasks, and setting out expectations. Regular team meetings can be a useful way of doing this, and to keep everyone involved with the entire process. Additionally, good management is about spotting problems as they arise and taking steps to eliminate those problems — often requiring the ability to make the right decisions under pressure.
What should a leadership skillset contain?
Being a leader is a more general, non-task-specific role. They communicate the vision of the company: the link between the boardroom and the workforce. When management request for you to complete a task in a certain way, a leader will motivate the team to do so. They will explain why it’s important, what the business will achieve from it, and what contributions can be made.
- Perhaps the winning trait of a successful leader is their motivational inspiration; there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to getting the most out of individuals. Skilful leaders can adapt their leadership style depending on the task, and on the individual, they are trying to motivate.
- Sometimes, leaders are faced with challenging situations, particularly when companies are changing rapidly. Not everyone welcomes change, and leadership sometimes involves convincing a team to come to terms with a new way of doing things — when reluctance may be an issue.
- You could say that leaders act as ‘coaches’ for their employees. This can involve giving team members room for development by providing training, teaching by example, and passing on personal experience. They are the ones who take new employees ‘under their wing’, and who they go to for advice.
Getting the right balance
Adopting a sole leadership or managerial style can be damaging to your reputation, and your team’s productivity, however. For instance, you get your team fully ‘psyched up’ for a big new order without working out precisely how you’re going to meet the deadline. You could also spend hours working on a super-efficient work management plan without bothering to explain to your team the point of it all.
So, here are some illustrations of why it’s important to use a combination of leadership and management skills in everyday situations.
Let’s say you delivered a successful pitch and the client comes on board. This is a fantastic time to display leadership: communicate to your team how important this new project is, and how they can all benefit from it. Firstly, however, you will need to use your management skills to work out a plan of action. As a skilled leader, you may see this as an ideal time to bring one of your junior team members forward with more responsibility. As the project progresses, a series of immediate problems may occur which will require a more managerial approach. These problems require you to tweak your production process to get your team used to working in a slightly different way. This is a skill of a leader. When you blur the lines, you can see how management and leadership can inform one another.
Putting together a new team
Your managing director wants to put together a new department. Your task is to oversee this. You’ve been given an objective and a budget. The first task is to map out the structure of this new team. This is where managerial skills come into play. This requires working out how many people you need, and how you are going to stay within that budget. Recruitment can be expensive. Research shows that a large proportion of new recruits leave within six months. A good leader would maximise the chances of keeping these new starters on board. This could be done by communicating clearly what you want to achieve and by making them feel valued, perhaps by delegating new responsibilities over time.
Taking on a new role
You’ve been given the job of shaking things up. This could include taking over an existing department and making it more productive. Analysing where things are going wrong and coming up with a plan means bringing your management skills into play. But, is there also a battle of hearts and minds to win? Was your predecessor popular, and was the decision to let him/her go resented by many in the team? It takes leadership to get the team on board with a new way of doing things. It also requires flexibility. Winning over highly experienced team members could mean a more hands-off approach. Whereas, junior employees may benefit from a greater element of mentoring and control.
Understanding how these two traits differ will help you bring them both into your skillset. However, there is still much more to learn. Check out the help centre to discover more about different leadership styles and how they can benefit you.