Monthly Archives: January 2015

Management vs. Leadership: Knowing the Difference

In the realm of business, the titles of “Manager” and “Leader” are often used interchangeably. By definition, a manager is someone with authority who supervises others and makes decisions for a larger group. Given these responsibilities, he or she must also be a leader, right? According to Herb Kimble, CEO of Metis Apax, not necessarily. That is to say, leadership is not just about being in a position of power; rather, it’s a term that indicates how that power is used. When we look at leadership from a standpoint that emphasizes personal characteristics and innovative actions, it becomes easy to see why true leaders, and not just those with titles, remain essential to today’s successful businesses.

So just what makes someone a leader, rather than a manager?

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  • A leader is someone with initiative. Note that initiative is different than motivation. A senior manager may be motivated to meet deadlines, conduct regular performance reviews and provide a quality product or service, but a leader possesses more than just the drive to complete day-to-day tasks. He or she is also a visionary focused on improvement. A leader doesn’t just worry about the present, but thinks about the road ahead and the course of action required. Further, a leader actively initiates new methods or strategies to improve business practices, and never hesitates to take action when necessary.
  • Leaders also earn their influence in a company. A leader maintains influence beyond what managers typically yield, and it is this that is most valuable to a company. What do we mean? Leaders are those that employees want to listen to and support. A leader isn’t someone that was hired to specifically win the favor of other employees; instead, they earn the admiration and respect of their colleagues through their performance over time. Every company needs leaders who can inspire and unify its employees. Individuals garner this type of influence in many ways, including demonstrating their strong work ethic and their exceptional passion for the business, and by forging meaningful connections with those they work with.
  • Leaders take risks. A leader is someone in a position of power that understands the inherent value of making high-risk decisions at times. Why? While quality may be the key to sustainability, risk is the conduit for meaningful growth. Without leaders who are willing to wade into unchartered waters occasionally, whether it is by implementing a new customer service policy, changing branding, or investing money into marketing to a new audience, a company will likely never reach its true potential for growth.
  • Leaders are congenial, relatable, and humble. Leaders possess the ability to truly connect with their employees and coworkers, and are more concerned with serving the company than themselves. This is not to say that managers are selfish or unkind; rather, leaders more overtly demonstrate their ability to relate to others. When leaders do succeed, they also see their success as a victory for the company instead of for themselves. More specifically, leaders are motivated by outcomes, not the praise or recognition that accompanies them.

All in all, both leaders and managers are necessary for a company to continue to prosper; in fact, a room full of visionary leaders could be just as ineffective as a room full of task-oriented managers. The key is to operate a company that incorporates a mix of individuals in positions of power that possess both leadership and management skills.

The Disciplined Business Leader: A Profile

Discipline is an often overlooked attribute of successful business leaders, but according to Herb Kimble, it’s one of critical importance. From effective marketing campaigns, to internal communication to finance, every aspect of a successful business depends on structure and discipline from leadership at the top. It’s true. The best leaders in business exercise discipline on a daily basis, both individually and within their organization. Though thoughts of free-spirited, creative CEOs of Silicon Valley start-ups persuade us to believe that a company can run on genius alone, the reality is that each of these lauded leaders—the Steve Jobs, the Mark Zuckerburgs, the Biz Stones—are disciplined. If they weren’t, their businesses would flounder.

So what do effective, disciplined business leaders do?herb kimble pic

They Set Specific Goals and Meet Them.

While this may sound like Management 101, the key, however, lies not in just being disciplined enough to set specific goals, but in having the initiative to create and follow a detailed strategy to meet them. The disciplined leader is constantly working with his or her goals in mind and frequently evaluates the effectiveness of strategies in place. Disciplined leaders work to ensure this level of focus and forward-thinking is translated throughout their companies.

They Enforce Company Policy.

As Herb Kimble can attest, the disciplined leader understands the effectiveness of creating structure within a corporation and ensuring that policies are adhered to. Consistently enforcing rules should be less about exercising authority and more about creating a fair and functioning work environment. And while it’s easy to turn a blind eye to small violations in policy, know that inconsistency can be viewed by others as favoritism or lead to even more violations. Herb’s advice: set an example by always following your own rules.

They Expect Continued Self-Improvement.

Great leaders never assume they’ve reached the pinnacle of their career or abilities. In fact, the business leader that believes there’s no room for growth will end up leading a company that performs the same way. Disciplined leaders typically expect more from themselves than anyone else and continually seek ways to strengthen or diversify their skill set. Recognizing the need for improvement and being motivated to make it happen positively affects a leader’s interpersonal relationships and the overall direction of his or her company.

They Demonstrate an Unrivaled Work Ethic.

While no CEO can definitively say they’re the hardest working individual at their company (and would be wise not to at the risk of offending equally dedicated employees), every disciplined business leader works just as hard or harder than the team they lead. The disciplined business leader understands the value of keeping a strict schedule and invests the extra time and effort into the job when needed. In the world of the disciplined business leader, there are no extended lunches, long weekends or personal phone calls on company time.

They Don’t Get Stressed.

Disciplined business leaders have the self-control to remain calm and clear-headed in the face of challenges. They keep their emotions in check, never sweat the small stuff and understand that acceptance and optimism always trump blame and frustration.  Leaders with an “inner calm” also set an example for their team to react to challenging situations in the same fashion.

A CEO himself, Herb Kimble understands the power and effectiveness of leading with discipline. Stay connected with the Herb Kimble blog for more of Herb’s insight on leadership and business.