Being a great leader is much more than being a manager

“Be a leader, not just a manager.” It sounds like another one of those popular business sayings. In fact we can certainly imagine it as a motivational quote floating about on social media.

Emma Plummer at Anne Corder RecruitmentRecently, however, we met with a client of ours whose business lives and breathes by the motto. Each person we met upheld the value in being a leader, not just a manager. It got us thinking – what does being a leader in a business really entail?

We’ve pulled together our understanding of what leadership – not just management – means, with the help of our client. And once you’ve read the blog, if you think you could be a leader then get in touch with us. We know you’re a tough lot to come across, so we would relish the opportunity to help you find the next step in your career – one that helps you progress as a leader and make the most of your potential.

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What’s the difference between a leader and a manager?

The first question we, at ACR, asked ourselves was: what’s the real difference between a leader and a manager? Here’s what we came up with:

1. A leader instigates positive change

A manager maintains the status quo, ensuring processes keep on ticking over and objectives are achieved. A leader, on the other hand, makes sure all of the above is achieved but they also look forward – they look at where their team could be progressing.

They always look for potential, and are able to assess whether a risk is worth taking to help foster better results in the future.

2. A leader doesn’t give ‘orders from the top’

There’s a big difference between delegating responsibilities amongst a team and ‘not getting your hands dirty’. There’s no job too little, or too big, for a leader. They’ll work with their team –not above them – to achieve results together.

3. A leader builds up their team

A leader understands that their team has a lot of potential – it’s just about recognising and nurturing it. They motivate their team and provide support when it’s most needed. As oppose to simply being concerned with numbers – like a manager might be – a leader is concerned with the progress of their team and the potential they can tap into.

4. A leader welcomes challenges

This was a big point for our client who embraces leadership over management. A leader must be open to suggestions – and challenges – from anyone and everyone, no matter what their role is. This ties in closely with our third point: accepting suggestions, especially from your team, allows a leader to help others progress and encourages openness, which can ultimately bring some great ideas to light. A leader recognises that a team of people generating ideas is much better than just one person!

5. A leader does everything a manager does, and more

A leader must still do everything that is expected of a manager – they will still have a team reporting into them, be given targets to meet and have others to report in to. But a leader will go about it all in a very different fashion, accepting that there will be ups and downs and supporting their team as they progress.

Does it really make any difference?

Admittedly, the above five points are our interpretation of what it takes to be a leader – and you could argue that approach won’t really make any differences to how a business runs on a day-to-day basis.

But, as we said before, our client fully embraces the philosophy – and they are hugely successful. The proof is in the pudding, of course, so we asked a few of their employees to tell us what difference they believe they make, as a leader, not just a manager:

“I don’t simply manage processes, I manage people.”

Gaz, warehouse manager

“Leaders need to be ready to be challenged. We manage upwards, not by giving orders from above.”

Peter, team leader

“Leaders have the catalyst to unleash potential in others – this could be of any type, in any specialism. We help others to progress and achieve their goals.”

Ade, HR specialist

Leadership and management quotePersonality traits of a leader

Gaz, Peter and Ade show that being a leader takes some unique qualities. And those qualities are highly desirable by many different businesses, making those with a leader’s outlook highly employable.

Upon meeting Gaz, Peter and Ade – and others at our client’s HQ – we could see they had a lot of these qualities in common. Each individual was:

  1. People orientated: they were focussed on their team and recognised each individuals strengths and potential.
  2. Humble: they weren’t afraid of accepting criticism and openly accepted feedback from everyone – nor were they afraid to admit when something hadn’t worked as expected.
  3. Always looking for new challenges: whether these were new challenges to help their team succeed, or personal challenges to help themselves progress, they were always eager to try something new.
  4. Full of energy: as leaders they exuded energy – a hugely motivating factor for those around them.
  5. Ambitious: just as they expected to keep their team moving, they were always looking onwards and upwards too.
  6. Forward-thinking and not afraid to look outside the box: great ideas come in all shapes and sizes and these leaders certainly recognised that.
  7. Determined: sometimes things don’t quite go to plan, but a leader can accept this – and learn from it – making them determined to get it right next time.
  8. Committed: they are dedicated to making sure their team goes onwards-and-upwards.
  9. Reflective: mistakes happen, and that’s okay. A great leader reflects on any mistakes made and learns from them.

Do you think you’ve got some, if not all, of the above qualities? Then it may just be you’re right for a leadership role – and a leadership role can bring a fantastic number of opportunities. Not only that, it can be extremely fulfilling to help your team progress and recognise potential in individuals.

We would love to hear from you – so why not send us your CV today?

About the Author

Emma Plummer

Emma Plummer

Recruitment Partner

Emma blogs for the ACR jobseekers’ blog covering tips on how to stand out, managing the job-hunting process and more.