Are You a Team Manager or a Team Leader?

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Understandably enough, “leadership” and “management” are two of the most frequently interchanged terms in the business world. While it is true that these two concepts overlap or intersect at certain points, there are notable differences between being a manager and being a leader.

Essentially, an individual is bestowed the manager position while a person may become a leader based on his personal characteristics. If you manage a team (or teams) in your business organization, how can you succeed at it? Are you a manager AND a leader? Or do you manage people?

The Difference between Managing and Leading

Two of Harvard Business School Online’s esteemed professors explored the relationship between management and leadership in their definition of the two concepts. While there are similarities between a manager’s and a leader’s roles, there are at least 3 key contrasts between the two disciplines.

Implementation vs. Guidance. Effective leadership centers on a vision, and a leader strives to guide change. An effective manager is accountable for achieving organizational goals through process implementation. In other words, while a manager might be focused on organizational structuring, staffing, or budgeting, a leader focuses more on thinking ahead and leveraging opportunities.

Organizing vs. Influencing. Managers work towards goals through coordinated processes and tasks implemented in stages until the desired outcome is reached. On the other hand, leaders are more intent on organizing people to enable them to accomplish tasks. Leaders are constantly finding ways to influence team members into working towards the organization’s goals.

Title vs. Quality. “Manager” is a job title referring to a position within the organization. Meanwhile, being referred to as a “leader” holds more flexibility in its meaning. Being a leader has more to do with a person’s credibility and ability to influence. The position of manager and the roles of a leader are not synonymous, but they are mutually inclusive.

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How to Effectively Manage a Business Team Like a True Leader

According to Doc Norton, leadership comes from action. If an individual can encourage, inspire, and engage others, he is a leader, no matter his job title. If you are already a manager and would want to develop your leadership potential, you should:

Set purpose clearly and expectations properly. A successful manager can easily answer these two questions for his team: 1) what is the purpose of this team and 2) which goals need to be met (both as a team and as individuals). The ability to make your team members appreciate the “why’s” and “how’s” of the job will resonate with them more effectively than just a list of “To Do’s.”

Track how team members spend their time. Effective leaders recognize the value of time. This is why a leader should make it a point to know how his team members spend their time and help each manage their time well. Time tracking possibly improves productivity, focus, and output. People have unique situations: understand that a sole breadwinner team member would allocate his time differently from an unmarried teammate.

Coaching and Development. An effective manager will coach his team members individually on how goals can be achieved and provide encouragement and resources necessary for his people to succeed. After you have made your team members understand the business’ goals, see to it that you also enable them to reach them.

You could likewise supplement your coaching with valuable reference material or training opportunities. If, for example, you are managing a team of insurance agents, you might send them to sales training, provide them the tools for better insurance marketing, or arrange for them to shadow a veteran agent for a day.

Build trust among team members. To gain your team members’ trust, do not be afraid to show your own vulnerabilities as a leader. Ensure that you do not merely bark out orders but also communicate the intentions underlying each action. Be sincere in conveying an interest in the individual members of your team. Foster sharing of experiences and best practices among them.

Managing a team in business ideally entails not only organizational competencies but also the ability to lead them towards accomplishing the organization’s goals. For team management to be effective, a manager needs to be generous with support, communication, and encouragement. It’s true; not all leaders are necessarily managers in the same way that not all managers are true leaders. To effectively manage your team into business success, it might be time to aspire to become a true leader.

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