a : to guide on a way especially by going in advance
b : to direct on a course or in a direction
It’s interesting that in defining the act of leading, the Merriam Webster dictionary uses the words “guide” and “direct”. To some extent, this description is the very essence of leadership. Leaders are often people with a vision. They are able to translate that vision into ideals people can believe and trust in (direct on a course on in a direction). Lastly, leaders inspire others to follow in their example every day (guide on a way by going in advance).Manage
a : to handle or direct with a degree of skill
b: to direct or control the use of; handle: manage a complex machine tool.
c: to exert control over:
Imagine if you were to use the words used above in the definition of “manage” along with the word “people”- how long before someone would call you to order? In truth, managers of all sorts believe that they best perform their job when they handle people, exert control over them and treat them as if they were complex machinery (meaning with contempt, I would imagine). The problem becomes that while these methods may temporarily scare people into action, they distract managers from their true responsibility, which is to manage things.
What things should I manage?
All businesses have resources, processes and systems that require handling and controlling to help the business function well and ultimately grow. Resources in a small business are things like the start-up capital, that first second hand laptop you drag around from one meeting to another to look professional or the stock you will sell to make money for the business to keep running. Everyone can agree that these require good skill to be handled with care and to not be left to run out or run down.
Processes and systems on the other hand can
be simply understood as actions that must be taken regularly (preferably daily)
to ensure the proper handling of resources. Banking cash on hand every
mid-afternoon for instance could be a business system that ensures that you
never misuse cash. Many businesses have a process they follow to order stock,
for instance or receive payments from their customers. They do this to avoid
chaos or misuse of resources too.
Why do I still need to know how to lead people?
Any one person with the right attitude and drive can learn to manage resources, systems and processes very well and still fail as a leader. This is because, until zyborgs and little green men with oversized eyes take over the rule of the world, people will be needed to run and administer resources, processes and systems.
Even if you are a one-man-show, you will need other people to help you run and grow your business, people with a different set of skills from yours and sometimes with resources, systems and processes you may need for the survival of your business. Leading people is about being able to share your vision for your business and your work in the simplest way with people who will help you to succeed and prosper. Great leaders take it further by inspiring these same people to carry out their vision on their behalf every single day, with great ease.What if managing people and leading things is more my thing?
Old habits die hard for those who can afford to be poor and unsuccessful. However, if this is not you, here are a few things you can do to become a leader of people and manager of things:
1. Have a vision for your resources, systems and processes as well as for the people you will need to administer and manage them
2. Start seeing your employees as people you work with instead of people who work for you
3. Aim to spend an equal amount of time between improving the skills to manage the “things” in your business and learning to relate to and lead the people in your business
4. Keep a management vs leadership journal. You can do this by splitting an ordinary notebook into two, where the one half has your records of your experiences with managing the resources, processes and systems of your business and the other half your leadership experiences and tips
5. Practice makes pleasant. The better you become at managing things and leading people, the more pleasant and fulfilling the experience of being boss will start to feel.
©RSGG Mashabela 2013
In : Business
Tags: leadership management lead manage entrepreneurship