Startup Tip: Leadership Is Not Management

Many people confuse leadership and management. It’s important for entrepreneurs to understand the differences. They are not the same. I discuss why in this video.

If you want to learn more about the differences between managers and leaders, I recommend you read Mark Suster’s excellent post – What Makes an Entrepreneur? Four Letters: JFDI.

  • http://www.uprinting.com David Sarabia

    Hey Ross, this is a great video and you make a very strong point in the beginning about control. You’re right, the one key difference is that leaders are able to let go of control. And I think this goes into core mind set of a leader, a mind set of vision and broader strategy rather than tactical strategy and operational details. This is what gives a leader that ability to step back and rely on his team, rather than manage it. However, it’s good to understand that both leaders and managers are needed to successfully grow a business. While the leaders can motivate and push a vision through the team, there is always a need for a manager to implement that vision in a way that makes sense for business (timelines, budget, and resource allocation). Managers bring great value to a business in their ability to maintain teams on track in day-to-day tasks and ultimately keep momentum going.

    On a personal note Ross, from your experience as an entrepreneur, what have been the key leadership and management needs throughout the different growth stages of your business?

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com Mark Suster

    Thanks, Ross. Good video. I agree completely that leaders are different than managers. The world actually needs both. I am clearly not a good manager. As you say, “I break all rules and only measure results” but there are clearly cases where rules are important. For these places we need managers. It’s a different skill and seldom encapsulated in just one person. Leaders often need to surround themselves with managers and vice-versa. Leaders set direction, managers monitor results and alert leaders when we’re off course.

  • http://www.rosskimbarovsky.com Ross

    Mark – yes, most companies do benefit from having both managers and leaders (although some leaders can be reasonably good managers when necessary). Thanks for adding to the discussion about the differences between managers and leaders.

  • http://www.rosskimbarovsky.com Ross

    David – you are of course right that companies need both leaders and managers (so sorry that your comment was caught in the blog’s spam filter – glad you shot me a note about it).

    Entrepreneurs with small teams must decide whether to initially hire leaders or managers. From my experience, leaders also tend to be the types of people who’ll roll up their sleeves to do the work. Good leaders are self-starters. I would always hire leaders early (and by that, I don’t mean heads of a company – I mean self-starters who can lead in their respective positions). Managers do add value, even to a very young startup, but you also need a team around them. Otherwise, you run the risk of policies, procedures, and processes without people who can actually execute.

    As a company grows, managers become more important. But even there, “manager” can mean different things. Some managers have great leadership skills while others do not. The composition of the team influences the type of manager who might be a better fit, but I’d still look for managers with leadership skills – especially for startups (where things change often).

    If you don’t mind – I’ve put your question (leadership and management needs throughout the different growth stages of your business) on my upcoming list of topics and will plan to record a video sharing the answer to the question.

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