Leading vs managing

As the owner or CEO of a business, your job is to lead the company and let others manage it. So you need to be very clear about the difference between leadership and “managership”, and make sure you focus your time and attention on the tasks and activities that only the leader can perform.

The first job of the leader is to inspire, influence and transform the “human currency” in the business. Everything else comes second. Without good human currency walking the halls, your plans and strategies can’t be implemented and your goals won’t be achieved.

Leaders inspire people by painting a picture of success beyond what people think is possible for themselves. Teach your people how to be successful by modelling what success looks like. Influence your people by role modelling, coaching, mentoring and spending one-to-one time with them. Above all, take responsibility for growing and transforming your people.

Four keys to true leadership

In addition to inspiring, influencing and transforming their people, great leaders focus on four key imperatives of true leadership:

  • Set the corporate compass.
  • Act decisively.
  • Delegate all non-CEO activities.
  • Drive the business with your own values and principles.

1. Set the corporate compass

Leaders set the corporate compass with their vision. The trick is to recognise that creating the vision is not a group activity. Rather, it falls strictly within the domain of the CEO or business owner. The vision should be yours, because it is your net worth tied up in the company.

Once you set the vision, communicate it relentlessly. If people don’t know where the company is going, it’s because you haven’t told them often and clearly enough. The vision should represent a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal), something that stretches people and inspires them to go beyond what they think they can do. Once you get clear on where you want to take the organisation, then you can figure out how to get there.


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