The difference between leading and managing

Tips For Small Business

November 02, 2008|By Stephen L. Rosenstein

Successful business owners shine at most aspects of operating their business. Usually they are great at planning, marketing, creative thinking or knowing just how to satisfy customers. They sometimes fall short when it comes to leading, managing and motivating others.

One reason is widespread confusion about the difference between managing and leading.

Managing implies structure, control, rules, deadlines and efficiency, says Ken Blanchard, best-selling author of The One-Minute Manager. But leadership is nearly the opposite of management. Leading requires actions that are more experimental, unstructured, visionary, flexible and passionate. Managers and leaders think and behave differently.

Blanchard and his partner, Drea Zigarmi, spent seven years studying how business leaders exert influence and how their values, beliefs and personalities contribute to their success or failure. Through it all, one finding was clear: A one-size-fits-all style of leadership does not exist.

Owning a business automatically puts you in a position of leadership. Your goal is to engage employees, partners, vendors, investors, independent contractors or other participants who help achieve a shared vision. But being in a leadership position does not necessarily make you a leader.

Many entrepreneurs turn to management techniques to enlist the minds and muscles of the people they lead but fail to capture an equally important component - their hearts.

Try combining direction with support. Direction includes setting goals, scheduling, specifying priorities and evaluating results, defining roles, and showing how results are to be accomplished. Support includes listening, praising and encouraging, seeking input, offering reasons for decisions and helping others to solve problems.

Stephen L. Rosenstein is co-chairman of the Greater Baltimore SCORE Chapter No. 3. Call 410-962-2233 to speak to a SCORE counselor or visit To send a question to SCORE, e-mail

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