Follow The Leader

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Are you a manager or a leader? Although you may think or have heard that these two terms mean the same thing, they don’t. In fact, there are varying differences depending on the situation. Leaders and managers have different personality traits and different styles in dealing with employees, suppliers, and customers. Let’s take a look at some of the differences in personality styles between a manager and a leader.

Managers – emphasize rationality and control, are problem solvers focusing on goals, resources, and organizational structure. They tend to be hard workers who are analytical, organized, persistent, tough-minded, sometimes tolerant, and generally have good will toward others.

Leaders – are perceived as brilliant but sometimes lonely. They achieve control of themselves before they try to control others. They can visualize a purpose and the eventual outcome they desire. They generate good value in their work and are imaginative, passionate, non-conforming risk-takers.

Managers and leaders have very different attitudes toward goals.

Managers – adopt impersonal, almost passive attitudes toward goals. They decide on goals based on necessity as opposed to desire. They tend to be reactive because they focus on current information.

Leaders – actively promote the ideas they envision instead of reacting to current situations. They shape ideas instead of responding to them. They show a definite personal interest in their goals and provide a vision that alters the way people think about what is desirable, possible, and necessary.

Managers and leaders have very different relationships with others:

Managers – prefer working with others, say that solitary activity makes them anxious, are collaborative, maintain a low level of emotional involvement in relationships, attempt to reconcile differences, seek compromises and attempt to establish a balance of power.

Leaders – maintain a perceptiveness that they use in their relationships with others. They relate to people in an intuitive, empathetic manner, focusing on what events or decisions mean to participants. They can, if not careful, create situations at times where human relations may be turbulent, tense and even disorganized.

As we can see manager and leader types can be very different. Yet in most small businesses, like your transmission shops, the manager and the leader have to be one and the same person. Thus the balancing act begins. The traits of both the leader and the manager are necessary to the success of the business. However, in many cases a good leader will find a way to manage but a good manager is not always able to find the way to lead. You need your people to be willing to follow you anywhere, not because they have to (the way a manager would control them) but because they want to (the way a leader would handle them).

I always picture the leader as being the first one through the door with his or her people following right behind, and the manager at the back of the line trying to push everyone through the door.

What are the attributes of an effective leader?

Passion – for a cause greater than the person him or herself; someone with a dream and a vision of how great the business can be; someone who can make courageous decisions and difficult decisions and carry them into action while seeing them trough to conclusion.

Holder of high values – Followers, in this case employees and customers, must look upon this owner or manager as someone with a high level of integrity. When people look up to someone and expect guidance from that person they must be able to rely on that person for honesty, if nothing else. If employees, for example, see you trying to be less than honest with customers, other employees, suppliers, a franchisor (if there is one) or the government, they might take that to mean that you condone stealing. Once they feel that way it’s a short stretch for them to do the same and possibly to you.

A vision of the future – Someone who can picture what the business will be like down the road, maybe five, ten, or twenty years. Then apply creativity and intellectual knowledge to be sure that the business will be ready for whatever comes along.

Creativity – Leaders must be able to innovate. Instead of the same old methods that everyone else uses, the leader must be willing to try something new and totally out of the comfort zone of normal behavior from time to time, tempered with common sense.

Intellectual drive and knowledge – Without it you can lead people right off the edge of the earth. A leader must also be a student of his or her profession; constantly learning is order to pass on the information at the proper time to the appropriate people.

A combination of confidence and humility – If followers don’t see a very high level of confidence they won’t be followers for long. They have to believe that the owner or manager of a business that they have to deal with at any level is the reigning expert in the field, someone to be respected and admired. At the same time that leader must show a degree of humility. No one wants to follow someone who is perceived as an inflexible know-it-all.

An excellent communicator – None of the above assets will do much good if the person can’t speak or write well enough to inspire others to follow. A good leader has a “presence”. It’s a feeling of varying degrees of awe people get when they see this leader walk into a room or hear him or her make a speech.

Planner/Organizer – This is where the management skills come into play. People feel better about following when they have some idea where they are going. Management after all is defined as getting things done through other people. So a true leader is also a good manager. Even though he or she may not possess all of the analytical attributes of a proper manager, the truly capable leader will, at the same time, be able to devise and fully implement a plan of action and be able to see it through to its logical conclusion.

Interpersonal skills – The ability to get the best out of people cannot be overstated. The true leader learns the followers’ hot buttons and applies that knowledge to make them willingly go along. Knowing how to delegate authority along with responsibility to give people power but at the same time keep them responsible for their actions and decisions is key.

I’ve always believed in leading by example. Show your strength of mind and your resolve to bring any project to fruition, treat everyone involved with respect, keep an open mind to questions and suggestions, take complete control with your tone of voice and upbeat attitude, and most of all, make them believe in you.

Always remember that everything you do in business requires you to make a sale. First you sell yourself on accepting a concept. Then you sell it to your employees so they will go along. You may have to sell it to your banker and your suppliers, but ultimately you will have to sell it to your customers. That’s why the better you are at selling the easier it will be to reach all your leadership goals.

About the Author: Terry Greenhut is a highly sought after Automotive Aftermarket Sales Trainer and Key Note Speaker. He has authored numerous Automotive Aftermarket Sales Training Articles in many of the major automotive trade journals over the years. His best selling Automotive Aftermarket Sales Training Course is recognized as the industry standard. You can learn more about Terry by visiting his website at