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Are You A Leader, Or Just A Manager? Leading and managing are not one and the same. The two do intersect, but one is logistics-based and the other is not

By Fida Chaaban

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


If you haven't already figured out that staff retention methods pay for themselves, then please keep reading. For those of you out there who reward loyal team members by investing in their training and paying attention to all of the different strengths, weaknesses and needs that your enterprise's human capital may demonstrate, you probably don't need to go any further into my note this month.

The first thing that needs to be outlined is that leading and managing are not one and the same. The two do intersect, but one is logistics-based and the other is not. If you are great at making sure your staff is being compensated on time, and filling out their paperwork in a timely fashion, then you are an effective manager. Being a leader is a whole other ballgame; it means that you nurture a good staff environ, you maximize people's strengths and you work on improving individual weaknesses. Leaders keep a consistent and even approach to everything- not just when the mood strikes you. It means you notice which of your staff members are happy to put in the overtime, which of your staff are developing better ways of doing things, and you reward these acts of diligence and innovation in kind. It also means that you listen to their concerns, and rectify valid complaints swiftly whenever necessary.

One of the most important qualities I look for in potential team members is a willingness to dedicate effort. That is more important to me than a candidate's existing skillset, and whatever background experience he or she may have in their repertoire. The effort to learn and adapt is, I find, one of the key strengths in members of Entrepreneur's core team. If I sense that someone's got a great portfolio but an intractable personality, then they don't make the cut. I need flexibility, and I need people who want to be an active and engaged part of something greater than themselves. Like many companies, I have precious few resources, so I really need to make certain that I'm allocating those resources properly- by choosing the right people, and then hanging onto them. This responsibility falls on me and me alone- I need to ensure that I retain our most loyal and dedicated team players, and that I foster growth in the most senior members, and that I am grooming the junior members for more challenging roles going forward.

I have seen dedicated people, people with potential and drive, turned off completely by poor management. I have had it happen to me in previous positions. You must remember that your staff cannot only count on a salary; they need to count on stability, encouragement, potential to grow, and skillset enhancement. If you are falling short on delivering any of these things, then you are a manager, not a leader. That's what I consider a spectacular sort of failure- the failure to secure your enterprise's human capital. You can learn from these unfortunate situations by analyzing all the things that went wrong, and then making the necessary adjustments in your corporate structure. Fix it, move forward, and prevent it from ever happening again. If you are the managerial sort, then you should have no problem applying this logic, and then you can become the leader that your business needs to succeed.

Fida Chaaban

Editor-in-Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Fida Chaaban is the Chief Communications Officer of KBW Investments, a privately held Dubai-based investment concern that works across multiple sectors. Prior to her most recent appointment, Fida was the founding Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East and Entrepreneur Qatar magazines. She is a big believer in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region’s startup ecosystem, and endeavors to use both print and web to positively encourage development in various entrepreneurial spaces and across industries. Based in Dubai, UAE, Fida is a social media enthusiast and sees it as the medium of today’s effective enterprises.
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