Leading Versus Managing in the 21st Century

Written By: Deborah Gavello

Managing is “running a tight ship;” leadership is “inspiring the crew.”

Good managers excel at functional tasks; leaders excel at motivating and developing people.

Managers get paid to do both tasks. Exceptional managers spend most of their time working with their people and less time with budgets, paperwork and administrative tasks.

There are several tasks that managers need to complete in order to make it all work smoothly. This brief article will cover two areas that are required to succeed at inspiring a crew.

A good leader needs to be more than a manager who is an encyclopedia of information. A successful leader develops people.

Managers may wish to be the ‘go to person: “If you have any questions, come and see me.” That’s a common phrase used by managers in the 20th century. At first glance, this would make a manager appear to be helpful. However, this is not the best way to lead a self-sufficient team.

Leaders in the 21st century have their groups so well developed that they only need to do a little bit of steering when one of their ships veers off course.

With so much work to do every day, how does a leader best succeed at steering the ship?

Although it might go against conventional wisdom, it is better to have people learn by not trying to personally teach them, but rather by having them discover the answers themselves.

There is great power in not answering an employee’s question, even when you know the answer. Instead, ask questions that help steer employees to discover the answers on their own.

Telling your employees the answers to all their questions is similar to pouring water into a bottle without a funnel.

You will get some of the water into the bottle, but you will spill much more.

Managers cannot afford to have knowledge spill if their intentions are to develop self-sufficient employees.

In order to sustain an environment in which employees become self-sufficient, jointly write a development plan with each member of the team.

This plan should include the following: an itemized list of areas that an employee needs to improve on; a timeline for such improvement; and the specific methods to be utilized for training.

These could include one on-one coaching, sales training classes, sales management classes, computer classes and any other techniques that are needed.

One other important procedure that leaders should never forget is to meet with their employees on a regular basis to discuss, review and evaluate their development plans.

The plans need to be worked, frequently reviewed and approved by both parties. (The plans should not be stored in an employee’s personnel file, never to be seen again.) Meetings must be scheduled with each employee on a monthly basis to review progress and discuss possible changes or additions.

Good leaders need to excel at motivating their staff.

(Motivation is having people perform their required task in a timely manner and having them feel good about it.)

There are five key ways to support employees:

  1. Use personalized positive reinforcement
  2. Model the desired behaviors
  3. Ask for specific performance from each individual
  4. Refuse to accept poor performance
  5. Build relationships with the entire group

Everyone needs to be invigorated once in a while.

Good leaders provide their employees with increasing levels of responsibility combined with the appropriate training.

In addition, they recognize and reinforce good performance as it appears and reward each employee individually for his or her accomplishments.

Good leaders need to consistently excel at developing their people and motivating their staff.

After several months of practice, these skills become ingrained. In turn, these newly acquired skills distinguish good leaders from managers in the 21st century.


  • Good Managers need to set up frequent Training Sessions for their employees
  • Good Managers train their employees Frequently
  • Good Managers Manage their expenses in a timely manner
  • Good Managers do Perfect- or Competent Reports
  • Good Managers create Powerful PowerPoint Presentations
  • Good Managers are Timely for Meetings
  • Good Managers Know How to Work with The Other Departments
  • Good Managers Know How to Put out Fires for Their Employees
  • Good Managers Meet Frequently for Casual Lunches with Other Departments
  • Good Managers Don’t allow Excuses for Poor Performance
  • Good Managers are Great Listeners
  • Good Managers don’t Text While they Are in The Car with Their Salespeople
  • Good Managers Pre-Call Plan with their Employees
  • Good Managers Don’t talk- but for very little During a Sales Call
  • Good Managers Go Out in The Field Frequently
  • Good Managers Praise their Employees Frequently
  • Good Managers Pay attention to Their Employees Personal Lives
  • Good Managers Show Up at Weddings and Funerals
  • Good Managers Do Not Date their Employees
  • Good Managers Do Not Drink too Much at Company Functions
  • Good Managers are Professional at All Times
  • Good Managers Dress Professionally
  • Good Managers Respect Their Employees
  • Good Managers Treat All Employees Equally
  • Good Managers Know not To Mix Business with Pleasure to Frequently
  • Good Managers Have a Balanced Personal and Professional Life
  • Good Managers Keep Working Hard, even if they have Made Their Yearly Goals
  • Good Managers Help Other Managers
  • Good Managers Offer to Help Any Employee that Needs it.
  • Good Managers get off their Computer when An Employee Walks In
  • Good Managers see when Someone is Struggling
  • Good Managers know when to let someone Go.
  • Good Managers Coach their Employees Often
  • Good Managers are Fun to be Around
  • Good Managers take Care Of Their Personal Health
  • Good Managers Never Speak Poorly of the Company
  • Good Managers don’t Speak Poorly about Their Boss in Public
  • Good Managers Help Clients
  • Good Managers Roll up Their Sleeves and Do what it Takes
  • Good Managers Lead by Example
  • Good Managers Smile Often
  • Good Managers get their staff the Tools They Need
  • Good Managers Protect their Staff in All areas
  • Good Managers block internal issues

As Always, Good Luck and Good Selling

Do not re-produce in any form without written permission from Deborah Gavello
© Copyright 2016 Gavello and Associates

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