Growing up I saw managers and leaders in different levels. My father was a police officer, and before retiring, was a Corporal in our county’s Sheriff’s Office. I had a variety of bosses at every job I had; some good and some that made me rejoice on my days off. Looking back, I see that not everyone that had authority was a leader, some were just managers.
There is a vast difference between managers and leaders. Being a manager is all about accomplishing tasks and to keep things running. Managers keep things the way they are, they merely maintain the status quo. Leaders accomplish tasks that move the organization forward. A leader’s main goal isn’t just drawing a line through a task, but seeing how that accomplishment made the organization better.
Great leaders are great managers, but great managers are not always great leaders. For you to be a great leader you have to be a great manager. You will manage tasks, people, positions, vision, schedules, e-mail, phone calls, (insert endless list of stuff you secretly complain about). Leading is not only rallying people around a common vision, but also empowering and equipping them to make that vision a reality. Every other leadership blog will tell you how to be a better leader, but if you are a poor manager you will be a poor leader. To be led by a leader that’s great at getting people excited but terrible at turning that vision into reality is frustrating. This leader will have high turnover and a low productivity rate. Refuse to fall into the trap of over-promising and under-delivering. Do not fail to become a better manager as you grow as a leader.
To be a better Manager you have to improve three areas of your organization. Improve your systems, people, and schedule. Often times most stress comes from these three areas because we haven’t managed them well. Our systems are outdated, we have the wrong people in positions, and we neglect to schedule our time. Take time to read and answer the questions below. Review every system, person, and schedule you are over, and do what every leader should do, make them better.
1. Improve Your Systems
a. Why are we doing this?
b. Is there a better way to do this?
c. How can I learn from other organizations’ systems?
d. Is there someone besides the main leader to run this System?
2. Improve Your People
a. Is this the right person for this role?
b. How are developing your team(s)
c. How are you challenging your team(s) to develop themselves?
3. Improve Your Schedule
a. What are the things only you can do?
b. What can others do? (everything you didn’t list above)
c. Divide big tasks by days. Don’t just make a big list of things to do; you’ll never complete it. You’ll just keep pushing stuff off and rush to finish others. Designate each day for certain tasks, check out this blog from a friend about managing your schedules.
At the end of the day, our lives are where they are because of the choices we’ve made. The organization you lead is the way it is because of the choices you’ve made. This realization either causes a moment of celebration or a desire to kick me in the head because you are in denial. Either way, whether you are at the top of the game or ready to quit, you can get better. For you to be a great leader, you must be a great manager. Slow down, analyze your surroundings, adjust your systems, and move forward.
Keith serves as Executive Pastor at Thrive Church in Richmond, Virginia. He oversees the organizational structures that has helped Thrive reach hundreds of people in the Richmond area and grow to a multi-site congregation. He has been married to his lovely wife Lauren for 6 years and they have a beautiful daughter Amiah who is 3 &1/2 years old. You can connect with Keith here