Being a Leader Isn’t Enough: The Two Roles You Need to Own to Guide Your Team Effectively

Quarterly Goals

Executives who work within the Entrepreneurial Operating System can’t afford to be just leaders to their team members. If you’re only occupying the leadership role, you’ll miss the opportunity to develop a team that leads your organization to greater levels of productivity and growth.

Instead, when you can be both a leader and a manager, you’ll create an environment of clear expectations that can be measured. You’ll also foster an environment of discipline and accountability, one in which your team members execute on their key initiatives quarter after quarter.
It starts with getting clear on the difference between leadership and management.

Understanding the Responsibilities of Leaders vs. Managers

While many people use these terms interchangeably, the Entrepreneurial Operating System makes a significant distinction between these roles.

Leadership is about working on the business. That means:

  • Providing clear direction to your team members.
  • Creating opportunities for your employees to step up and grow in their roles.
  • Taking time to think about the direction of your business as well as how your team members contribute to that vision.

The leadership definition we rely on at McArdle Business Advisors comes from Bill George, former CEO of the medical device company Medtronic, who said:

“Leadership is not about gathering a group of followers, as many people believe. What leadership is about is equipping and empowering others to lead. It’s all about creating more and more leaders at all levels within your organization.”

In contrast, management is about working in the business. That involves:

  • Creating clear expectations for what you expect from your team.
  • Communicating those expectations, as well as your vision.
  • Ensuring that things get done and rolling up your sleeves when needed.

When understanding the concept of management, it might help to think about the manager of a baseball team, whose job is to help the team be more successful. It’s the same when occupying the role of manager within your organization. It’s your job to equip and inspire our teams to be more successful. Management is not something you do to someone. It’s what you provide for someone.

Why You Need to Be Both a Great Leader and Manager

Being a great leader doesn’t make you a great manager. The reverse is also true. You have to be able to play both roles fully for your team members. When you do, you’ll create an environment of complete accountability, one where your key initiatives get completed on a regular basis.

To help you understand why, imagine a bicycle. It, of course, has two wheels: a front wheel and a back wheel.

The front wheel sets the direction for your business. That’s leadership. You have to be able to direct your team members’ energy in the right direction, ideally in the service of a clear and compelling vision for your organization.

The rear wheel of the bicycle provides the forward energy and momentum. That’s management. That’s the ability to rally people behind your vision and get traction to achieve it.

Without both wheels, you simply won’t be able to actualize your vision at the highest level. That’s why you need to learn how to be both a great leader and a great manager.

If you’d like to discover more about becoming a great boss who inspires your team to execute at the highest level, check out Episode #12 of the Growing Leaders, Growing Companies podcast: How to Be a Great Boss.

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