Small Businesses Need Leaders and Managers

May 24, 2018

How would you answer the following question, “Is there is a difference between a leader and a manager?” You might say there is no difference while others might say there is a difference but would be unable to define the characteristics of each. A case could also be made that even though differences exist, an individual can be both a leader and a manager at the same time. 

Some elements that usually define these roles are:

Leaders – They use their power to influence the thoughts and actions of others.

Managers – They direct their energies to achieving goals and solve problems.

Obviously in a small business or SME, the owner or general manager must have dual roles. The leader is more concerned with change:

•    How to most efficiently bring about positive change in the business.
•    Determine when the best time is for change to take place.
•    Decide who the best employees are to manage the change.
•    How best to explain the change to employees and, possibly, customers.

The manager on the other hand is more concerned with:

•    What are the best practices and procedures that come with the normal operations of a business?
•    What is the best way to bring order, calmness, and consistency to the business?
•    How should employees be managed and directed?

Equal Importance

Both roles are equally important. Without a leader to inspire employees and determine what changes are in the best interest of the business, it is difficult for a business to grow and survive over a long period of time. Likewise, a business of any size must have a competent manager to oversee daily operations, strive for excellence, and achieve objectives. Without a strong manager, the internal structure of a business crumbles.

An age-old question is, “Are leaders and managers born or trained?” Certainly, some individuals have an innate ability to do either, but anyone can also be trained to be an inspiring leader or an effective manager. For either, it takes:

•    Listening
•    Learning
•    Being open-minded
•    Motivating employees through positive reinforcement
•    Clearly articulating the company’s goals, visions, and values
•    Being involved and challenging employees

So, whether you consider yourself a leader or manager, concentrate on the skills needed to be both. In a small business or SME it is important to both lead and manage – to have visions of the future while making sure that day-to-day operations are carried out in the most efficient manner possible. When a small business or SME has a leader and manger in one person, then it has much greater chance to survive, grow, and succeed.