The difference between leading and managing

Leadership and management are often misunderstood as one in the same. They are not. Certainly, a good leader should be able to manage and vice versa. But, it is important to understand the difference. Both are important to the success of an organization.

The key difference between the two is that management is about processes, and leadership is about people. You manage your accounts payables but you lead your accounts payable administrator. Understanding this is the key to motivating, coaching and growing your people to the very best of their ability.

This happens in an organization for many different reasons. Most often, it is because we promote people for all of the wrong reasons. The most common ones are length of service, the next manager is the one who has worked there the longest, and the other is that they are good at the task at hand. For example, they have had the best sales record so they become the sales manager.

Unfortunately, we learn management skills as opposed to leadership skills very early on. Our parents tell us what to do as opposed to teaching us to think of the answer to questions on our own. This is one among several reasons why management, as opposed to leadership, is how we typically run an organization. The four most important aspects of leadership, and specifically sales leadership:

• Recruiting. The ability to attract and retain the best is imperative in success of an organization. Recruitment should be an ongoing process and should never wait for a need. There is always a need for someone better than your best person isn’t there?

• Coaching. Coaching is always teaching, rarely telling. Teaching is helping subordinates realize the answer on their own and not always blurting out the answer for them. There is a real pride in coming up with answers on their own which is what we all strive for in an employee.

• Accountability. Creating a clear and detailed written plan that involves a 30-60-90-day written goal that not only involves revenue goals but behavior goals as well. Behavior goals are the action steps that are taken to prospect daily, weekly and monthly.

• Motivating. Understanding what motivates each individual is what will elevate him or her to the next level. Motivation is different for each individual, and a true leader knows how to unlock it.

So are you a good leader or just a manager? How about your sales manager? Better ask the questions. You never know what you might learn.

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is the author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell.” For more information or free sales tips, go to and sign up for “GretaNomics,” or email sales questions to

Greta Schulz
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