If you’re the type who thrives in organizations, then you know that sooner or later you’ll be put into some kind of “chief” position. Whether you’ve gotten a true-blue promotion or just got assigned the lead role in a specific project, the fact is that you are expected to shoulder certain powers that you didn’t have to as a regular worker. And with those powers come the responsibility to guide a group of people through very specific challenges.
There are two ways by which you can go about that: you can either lead or manage.
There is a difference
Contrary to popular belief, there really is a difference between leading a team and managing a team.
- Leading focuses on the big picture; managing focuses on the nitty-gritty details.
- Leading inspires people to work; managing compels people to work under certain parameters
- Leading requires trust from people; managing requires a measure of control over people
In other words, leadership and management require two completely different skill sets which concentrate on very different things – leadership makes people and vision a priority, while management concerns itself on the effective execution of tasks. How you approach your responsibilities when you get that promotion or project often depends on the title that was given to you (for example, HR managers are typically expected to manage standard HR operations.
Of course, there are times when things can get a little confusing. Occasionally, you’ll find yourself being given a title that is fairly ambiguous or discover that you’re being given free reign over a project that requires a measure of specificity. What do you do then?
Do things one at a time
When in doubt, lead now and manage later. As more and more principal positions in organizations have some form of vagueness with regards to what they entail, it’s best to take charge of the situation by first making the vision clear to all the people involved and THEN relaying the details of what must be done. At the end of the day, what you need to remember is that you are guiding people who are working on something together. If a unifying factor was not established from the very beginning, then you can’t hope to reach any goal – big or small. Be that unifying factor, then you have nothing to worry about.
After you’ve gotten people inspired and excited by what needs to be done, you can turn your attention to the tasks that will help you and the group facilitate success. The key to great management is clarity – the clearer you are with regard to assignments and details, the more comfortable each person in the group will feel. If each team member knows exactly what they need to do, then they will have a greater sense of satisfaction when they complete their part of the task, which in turn improves efficiency.
It doesn’t matter if you’re working with a traditional office arrangement or if you have a virtual office set-up in your organization. When the responsibilities you’ve been given is not so clear, it’s up to you to make things work by being a good leader as well as a good manager.