What’s the difference between management and leadership? And is it important?
I have heard many senior practitioners ask this question and challenge themselves around whether their aspiring team members need leadership training or whether it’s just the leader(s). So, let’s be clear about one thing: Leadership is a state of mind, not a title.
There are more leaders in your firm than those who have ‘senior manager’ or ‘partner’ in the job title. Some of your leaders may be in the support team, the oﬃce manager – some of the best PAs I have met are natural leaders. They encourage everybody when they’re down, they drive client focus and constantly manage volatile situations with a cool head.
They say ‘management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things’ but, really, all this is very old-fashioned and perhaps slightly romantic in terms of a notion about leaders.
Modern leaders are likely to be people who have their finger on the pulse.
They are in touch with morale within the firm and doing their level best to always drive people towards their goals and encourage people to be the best they can be. This kind of behaviour is prevalent in many for our younger Gen Z employees. For them, they want to have creative ideas, see them through, drive the business, work with the clients and be successful and are likely to be on WhatsApp, teams and then a face-to-face meeting all at once.
Junior staff learn management skills as they come into their second year and start managing the new joiners. Skills are developed and fine-tuned with experience on the job, delegating, goal setting, managing quality and equally important, and ensuring the client service relationship is maintained.
Essentially, an individual will perform well as a manager if they are able to:
Manage themselves: time, emotions and productivity
Manage others: Has a high degree of emotional intelligence
Commerciality: Client relationships and financial acumen are key
I remember reading The Road Less Travelled by M Scott Peck, which says individuals make a choice between finding a path and following it, or driving through the long grass and creating their own. I would say that many of the best leaders I have met have never read books on leadership. They are emotionally intelligent enough to know all the wise words and advice are entirely dependent upon your own individual ability to translate lessons learned into messages – which their team can put into practice. However, that is where the real challenge lies.
It’s good practice to look at your team members and just consider which of them you see as role models for the firm’s values, right now.
Because displaying those values demonstrates they have what it takes and are demonstrating leadership.
Keep them close and let them know they are valued as they represent the future of the firm.
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This article, entitled ‘How do we define leadership,’ was written by Paul Richmond and published first here, in the September/October 2022 edition of Financial Accountant – the official magazine of the Institute of Financial Accountants.