Whether you aspire to be a Dale Carnegie or a Joe Girard (recognised as the World’s Greatest Salesman by the Guinness Book of World Records) it’s important to understand that there is a difference between a leader, with a vision, and the person who actually makes that vision happen.
For example, while Steve Jobs was envisioning the iPhone, Steve Wozniak was actually seeing to it that Apple was being built. While Bill Gates imagined a PC on every desk, Paul Allen was building Microsoft. Next to these monolith leaders was an equally monolith manager – and that's really important.
Leadership and management are NOT in competition – one is not better than the other, one is not more important than the other. They are distinct and complementary systems of action. Each has its own required functions and activities. And both are important for sales success in an increasingly complex and competitive business environment.
In fact, if you have leadership in an organisation with ineffective management, it could actually be much more disastrous than the reverse.
Many business owners need to wear both hats; leader and manager. It is therefore critical for you to make a distinction between your role as a leader and your role as a manager, and be really aware of what you're doing and how you're doing it.
There are three essentials in every business:
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
As a Leader you will need to set the direction of the business and develop the vision of the future.
As a Manager you should set targets, create plans, and allocate resources in order to achieve that future.
2. Creating NETWORKS OF PEOPLE who can accomplish this
As a Leader you align people and communicate the direction to the key personnel who create leverage and move the vision forward. You will come in on a quarterly or monthly basis to remind people of the vision and purpose and therefore reenergise the team.
As a Manager you should create the organisational structure, organising a set of roles, including sales, that will be required to achieve the goals. You should ensure that the right, qualified people are filling the correct roles and manage the recruitment and delegation processes.
3. Ensuring people ACTUALLY DO their job
As a Leader you motivate and inspire people. Tap into emotions in order to get them moving in the right direction and get them excited about getting there.
As a Manager you control problems and systemise the solutions. You should monitor the plan in detail, keeping a close eye on the numbers in the reports and trackers, and identifying any deviations. You should then re-plan and re-organise accordingly.
In SMEs, leadership is overrated
You can start to see how in an SME context, the management side of things is actually the more critical part of running the company. Creating those common goals, creating an action plan, ensuring there are rules that your employees abide by – these are the things that will actually tell you how well you are leading your 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-energizing 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.
By Shweta Jhajharia, Principal Coach and founder of The London Coaching Group, is a multi- award-winning business coach, recognised both by external bodies and the industry awards panels as the top coach in the UK.