I have read many books on management and you tend to get quite mixed messages from all of them. Many split the role of a leader between management and leadership. I also believe they are two very different roles, both playing a tactical part to your business success. Rather than split hairs between the two roles, let’s discuss their primary purpose to the business and how each of them interact with the team. Let’s have a look at my journey and compare how you see yourself as a leader.
I started my career with a large corporate rural firm, where I moved through many roles, from the mailroom in head office, to the manager of a large multiple income stream business. While there was no real defined career path, the concept was, work hard, make yourself known to management and get promoted to a better role. Once I became a ‘manager’ I was given full autonomy of the business. I was required to submit a detailed business plan to the senior management team each year. Once approved, I then had discretion to run the business as I saw fit, as long as I stayed within the parameters nominated in my approved business plan.
How I define a manager. A manager demands respect and has an operational focus on the business. They are strong, resilient and resourceful.
As a manager I was charged with ensuring the business performed to its maximum potential by generating a healthy ROI for shareholders. I would interview each team member in a 1-on-1 review process, and work out who was of use to me and who wasn’t. I would then go about poaching good people from within the network, that I knew could help me achieve my business priorities. The team was my resource to ensure I could do my job and I wanted the best of the best to do this.
As I matured into my career, I had decided that this style of leadership wasn’t for me. While each year I was able to produce exceptional ROI for shareholders, it offered no sustainability for the business or the team. Constant staff churn and low cultural engagement was a bi-product of this type of leadership. Clients suffered as a result, seeing a constant carousel of new faces.
How I define a leader. I leader is someone who earns respect from the team. The team naturally warms to a leader, and sees them as a source of knowledge and a resource to learn and build their career.
In a career change, I moved from a corporate environment in the rural industry to real estate, specifically property management, a smaller cottage type industry in comparison. It became apparent that as a leader, my team would engage with me better, if I had something to offer them. If they saw me as a source of knowledge, a motivator and a mentor, they would look to me for guidance. If I offered them a career path and helped them develop the capabilities of their own career, in return, I bred loyal, reliable, high performing team members, aligned with the business priorities.
I now didn’t see myself as a manager, I saw myself as a leader. Instead of the team being a resource to me, I was now a resource to the team. My job was now to support the team to learn and grow. If they weren’t performing, that was my fault. Had I given them all the training and resources they needed to do their job to the best of their ability.
As a property management business consultant, I would argue that a good leader has both leadership and management qualities, but I’m not debating that. What I do ask my clients though, is the role of a leader your first priority? What type of leader are you to your team? Do you demand results or do you coach and mentor?