As a small business owner, striking the right balance between leadership and management can be tricky. We all need leaders to inspire and motivate us – whether it’s a religious or civic leader, a head of state or the head of a family.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” (Peter Drucker)
Effective business leaders guide and empower their employees while ensuring they understand what is expected of them. At the same time, you’ve also got to make sure that your employees are working effectively on the ground and here’s where management skills come to the fore.
A good manager must give his employees all the tools to achieve the tasks required of them, while conducting regular reviews to ensure the smooth running of any small business operation. And when things go wrong, a good manager must know when and how to step in to resolve the situation. Here are a few tips for how to get the most out of your workforce through a combination of leadership and management skills.
To encourage your employees to go the extra mile, you need to communicate your vision for the company. Of course, vision isn’t a matter of sales forecasts and profit margins – it’s about having passion for your core business idea and working with others to realise it. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion” – if you don’t feel strongly about what you’re doing, why should you expect such commitment from your employees?
While having a strong vision may be a quality good leaders share, good management is the ability to communicate that vision to employees in practical terms. Your staff should always know what you require of them and how they can achieve it, and you should put in place concrete and measurable goals to help them get there.
While you’re required to manage, you’re not required to micro-manage. Too many small business owners feel compelled to oversee every aspect of their business but it’s far better to let go and trust your employees to do the job. Giving your employees important decision-making powers or putting them in charge of a big project will encourage them to work hard to achieve your aims. While mistakes may get made in the process, the lessons learned will make your employees more valuable in the long term. However, you’ll want to minimise the risk of mistakes that could harm your business. The best way to do this is by communicating clearly what you want at the outset.
Understanding what motivates your workforce will help you to reward individual employees in the most appropriate way. While some will work harder on the promise of a bonus or salary increase, others will prefer a commitment to ongoing training and a clear career path. Even publicly acknowledging someone’s hard work and saying thank you for a job well done may be motivation enough for some.
To better understand what motivates your employees, schedule a one-on-one meeting and ask them. Great leaders aren’t just good orators, they are also good listeners. It’s also important to remember that great ideas often come from the bottom up. Those doing the day to day tasks are often the best placed to identify any shortcomings and suggest improvements. Taking time out to actively solicit opinions and feedback will not only motivate your employees but may also improve business operations.
“Leadership is working with goals and vision; management is working with objectives”, said Russel Honore. As a small business owner, you need to balance the big picture with the small details by motivating your team and helping them to execute goals on your behalf. There’s probably no magic formula for how to achieve the perfect balance between management and leadership but if your employees are happy and your business is a success, you’re on the right path.