VOL. NO: 55      DATE:

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Which is important - A Leader or A Manager

I WONDER how you reacted to this question. I wonder if you believe that a leader is more important than a manager in a business. Whatever your current belief, this article seeks to explore the importance of these roles in a business.

Before we proceed any further, it will be helpful to illustrate how the role of a leader differs from that of a manager so that there is no confusion about the position taken in this article.

Firstly, it is my opinion that a leader is someone who instigates changes in organisations, identifies new directions for a business and presses for changes that could facilitate the achievement of corporate strategies and goals. In short a leader is a role model and more often than not is a source of inspiration in a business.

Leaders navigate the ship and assume the role of a captain; and for this reason, they have to be of a certain calibre if they are to retain that status. By now, you would have begun to see that a leader is a rare species, as the role requires courage in the face of adversity to stand up for one's belief and press on regardless of opposition. Having said this, leaders lead people and have the capacity to influence others to follow them whether for the best or for the worst.

As a result we tend to have good leaders and bad leaders. I believe that most of us may have experienced good and bad leadership both in the business world and dare I say other sectors.

A manager on the other hand is someone who promotes stability in a business. He or she takes the responsibility of managing resources to achieve the goals and objectives set by the leader. For that reason, managers do not easily adapt to change and their primary focus is to deal with the day-to-day operations of the business, whilst the leader focuses on the strategic issues. Managers are vital resources in a business. Without them, the leader will find it impossible to achieve his or her goals because they represent the key engine that brings to life the aspirations and goals of the leader. It is for this reason that this article takes the position that a leader and a manager are equally important in a business. One cannot work without or against the other. If they do attempt to work in isolation of each other the business will soon be exposed to friction and may not be able to achieve its goals and objectives.

Many a time, there is a mistaken belief that having a good leader in a business will automatically lead to a positive change in the business. This may not necessarily be the case. I would like to share some of my experiences so that readers will understand what happens in practice. You see, when good leaders are appointed, they recognise that their vision and aspirations can only be achieved with a supportive and equally capable manager in post. Therefore, their first course of action is to hire the best people with strong management capabilities so that these people will support the leader's agenda effectively in the operational management functions.

In short, good leaders are adept problem solvers and recognise the importance of working with competent managers to achieve successful outcomes. Otherwise, an incompetent management team will destroy every conceivable agenda a good leader might have. Indeed one will question the wisdom of a leader that surrounds himself or herself with less able managers in the absence of an improvement plan. It is also fair to say that a good manager can suffer under poor leadership and find it difficult to manage resources effectively in the absence or lack of clarity over the future direction of the business.

So, if you want your business to succeed, it is not enough for you to work on improving your leadership skills. You must also focus on building a management team that is competent and supportive to your vision and mission.

If you need more information about management competencies, why not purchase our booklet title "Introduction To Management For New & Aspiring Managers". 

For advice and support on this subject, contact  sheila@businessservicessupport.com

 Sheila Elliott is the managing director of Business Services Support Limited.


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