Are you a manager or a leader?

By Diana Spurgus

Modern leadership guru Warren Bennis said, “Managers are the people who do things right and leaders are the people who do the right thing.” To run a business well, you need both.
 
Employees, finances, sales, marketing, operations, and, yes, IT all need a manager and a leader. But that doesn’t mean you should be the one doing both.
 
Why leadership is your No. 1 job
 
Bennis’s idea is this: You need management. True. Managers budget, organize, react to situations, and solve problems. They ensure things get done, monitor the day-to-day functions, and enforce the rules. They are the tactical part of your business. You probably do a fair amount of managing things now. But just like everyone else, you only have 24 hours in a day. So some management tasks can and should be delegated, hired, or outsourced.
 
Bennis, who was cited by Global Gurus International as one of the top 30 leadership experts in the world, defines leadership differently. Leaders establish direction, align people, and motivate and inspire to prevent problems. Like it or not, everything in your business – good and bad – ties back to the leader. Unless and until you grow leaders inside your company, the leader is most likely you.
 
Five ways to differentiate a leader from a manager
 
Are you more of a leader or manager? Here are five leadership traits adapted from two of Bennis’s books, On Becoming a Leader and Learning to Lead,to help you decide:
 
  1. Managers set standards for performance; a leader sets a benchmark for excellence. Do you dictate a status quo or do you paint a picture of what the ideal is? Do you merely communicate what’s acceptable or do you encourage exceptional?
  2. Managers want employee compliance; leaders seek employees’ commitment. Let’s say you decide to streamline a process. To do so, you purchase new software. Do you just provide training on how to use the software or do you work on communicating the reasons why you’re doing it so employees willingly and happily dive into training?
  3. Managers have subordinates over whom they have formal authority; leaders have followers who are inspired to perform at their best. Leaders recognize that continual improvement in all aspects of their business is critical to their success.
  4. Managers try to avoid risks or minimize them; a leader looks for opportunities. Maybe it’s an investment in a new technology, or a decision to expand your business. Whatever the case, managers will tell you why it won’t work. Leaders will tell you why it can.
  5. Managers enforce rules and policies; leaders challenge red tape and bureaucracy when necessary. Sure, you should have and enforce an acceptable use policy for your computers. But if any of your policies prevent someone from helping a customer or generating sales, put on your leadership hat and throw that rule away.
 
One management task you can take off your plate
 
Your computer network, phone system, software and all things IT can suck up your time and resources and be a royal pain – if all you do is manage it. Checking backups, maintaining critical patches on the computers, updating anti-virus software and firewall protection, and dealing with issues that arise – these are all management tasks that can be outsourced.
 
As a leader, you can deal with IT differently. You look for opportunities to improve your company with technology, you use it as a way to help propel the vision for your company, and you deploy it to reach your goals. Then you hire someone to handle the rest.
 
About the author:
Diana Spurgus, MBA, MCP, CITP CPA, is president of Lancaster, Ohio-based Business System Solutions Inc. (BSSI). BSSI can be reached at ask@bssi.biz.
 
Related articles:
 

You may like these other stories...

IRS must take oath on Lerner emails: judgeMackenzie Weinger of Politico reported on Thursday that a federal judge ordered the IRS to explain under oath how it lost emails connected to Lois Lerner, the ex-IRS official at the...
Credit Suisse says pension assets at risk unless court delays sentencingJohn Letzing of the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Credit Suisse Group AG says its management of billions of dollars in assets for...
The prospect of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) being fully adopted in the United States in the near future are growing less likely, as the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 16
Hand off work to others with finesse and success. Kristen Rampe, CPA will share how to ensure delegated work is properly handled from start to finish in this content-rich one hour webinar.
Jul 17
This webcast will cover the preparation of the statement of cash flows and focus on accounting and disclosure policies for other important issues described below.
Jul 23
We can’t deny a great divide exists between the expectations and workplace needs of Baby Boomers and Millennials. To create thriving organizational performance, we need to shift the way in which we groom future leaders.
Jul 24
In this presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA revisits the Excel feature you should be using, but probably aren't. The Table feature offers the ability to both boost the integrity of your spreadsheets, but reduce maintenance as well.