Leaders versus Managers

Leaders and managers are often confused as being one and the same.

But they’re not. Far from it.

I saw some impressive leadership this week, when I was mentoring at a medical technology event designed to encourage entrepreneurs with their business ideas.

The management of the event was good.

We knew where to be, at what time, who we were speaking to, what was required of us, and there were refreshments on hand.

All the elements you needed to do your job, in other words.

But the leadership of the event was what stayed with me. And here’s the difference - 

The manager might stand up in front of the group and outline to them how the day would proceed; timings, fire alarm procedures, et cetera.

But the leader strikes at the very heart of why we were there.

What it means to be an entrepreneur. To commit yourself to work incredibly hard, because you're following your vision and your heart.

To try to change the world for the better with your ideas and energy, no matter that the odds may be stacked against you.

Far too often, I’ve seen events which should be uplifting and motivational instead dirged and dulled by being managed, rather than led.

On those rare occasions someone was foolish enough to give me responsibility in the BBC - usually when a major story had broken - I would get the logistics sorted.

Camera crews, picture editors, live broadcasts, who was doing what, where and when. That was a given.

But I would always try to lead my team as well, even if time was tight.

To remind them why we were doing this. To inform and educate the public on matters of great importance, things they really needed to know about.

Which was a big responsibility. And one we needed to step up to.

Happily, as I recall, it tended to work. 

Those great people I was fortunate enough to work with responded by giving their best. To me, the team and the mission.

Which is what the art of leadership is all about.