Do you manage people or lead?
Malaysia is one of the fastest growing hubs for startups in Southeast Asia. There are many young, attractive businesses ready to solve the next problem or invent the next Uber. New companies are already drawing in the city’s best talent eager to discover a world outside of corporate life.
As small businesses scale, there is a need for cross-functioning teams. Lean teams tend to have specialised people who work across different departments, which leads to a more ‘lateral’ organisations. With flatter management structures, do we need managers to delegate or just team leaders who can inspire?
When we hear manager we hear "discipline" and "deadline", whereas leadership makes us think of setting the example, bucking the trend, creative problem solving and inspiration. Leaders tend to avoid a strict hierarchy in favour of inclusive communication to bring out the best attributes and resources of their team. That also gives them the flexibility and agility to move fast and make the right changes necessary which is vital in the sometimes volatile world of startups.
The most telling distinction involves perception. Some managers primarily focus on "work," the project or objective at hand, while leaders focus on "people," concentrating on motivating the "team" or individuals to achieve high performance.
The best managers and leaders both achieve goals and objectives consistently. What about you, can you lead?
1) Are you more focused on delegating tasks or enabling your people to achieve a shared goal?
2) Am I more comfortable at completing a puzzle than designing one?
3) Am I drawn to risk and challenge or comfort and control?
4) How do I view the “rules”? Do I enjoy making or turning them inside out?
5) Do I communicate using passion to inspire or do I prefer control?
If your answers are more towards the former for each question then you have the right mindset for leadership.
So, can you be a manager AND a leader? The answer is yes. These roles are not mutually exclusive, but focus and time management should be massaged to learn and fill both roles.
Managers, focusing primarily on work, should allocate more time to the human element and building relationships. Leaders should reallocate additional time to the work details (memos, report evaluation, correspondence, and planning activities) they often discount. This reallocation can become a perfect balance of manager and leader to achieve goals and objectives.
Some leadership qualities are often the result of your DNA as much as your intellect and dedication. While the oft used phrase, "leaders are born, not made," has proven only selectively correct, some leadership traits are more difficult to learn if your personality is in conflict.
If you are a natural leader, you can learn and perfect effective manager skills through study and experience. Don't become concerned if you're new to the workforce or considering changing professions or industries. First, everyone needs to develop managerial and leadership skills, as will you when given the opportunity. Second, learned management and leadership skills are usually transferable to any industry.
Whether you become a manager or a leader, both typically enjoy challenging and profitable careers.
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