Should we train teams to be managers or leaders
When I was 19 years old I worked as a shift manager in a restaurant. The restaurant manager was not an overly inspiring manager, at the time, while he was ‘working’ he spent most of his time sitting at the end of the bar drinking pint after pint until 10 o’clock at night when the restaurant closed and he announced, you can cash up tonight to which ever one of the unfortunate shift leaders who was on shift that night. However, he was a great manager and an even better leader, with our restaurant regularly winning awards for customer service and standards. Although at the outset he sounds like a horrible person to work for he had a way of energising the teams and I am pleased to still refer to him as a friend.
This thought came to me while I was running a training session with a company. We were looking at how to utilise the team to their strengths by understanding their profiles. By understanding their profiles the company were able to better allocate tasks and assign clients leading to better relationships and a longer lifetime value of each client to the company. One of the attendees kept interchanging the terms’ manager and leader. Eventually, I was asked the question.
Do we want to train our people to be managers or leaders?
In terms of the restaurant manager, he was exactly that, a manager, it was in his title and job description, he had been doing the role at many levels for several years in different sites and different capacities. In my opinion, he was a leader and a very charismatic one for that. He was widely respected within the chain of restaurants with many other managers asking him for guidance and advice. I barely remember a time when we didn’t have someone doing some sort of management training in our restaurant. Also, to coincidentally achieve awards in multiple sites with varying teams would be incredibly difficult if he was just managing a team.
In the book, On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis presents a list of key differences between managers and leaders, including:
● The manager administers; the leader innovates
● The manager maintains; the leader develops
● The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people
By using the above 3 points as an example if the restaurant manager at the time had just been a manager the team would have just opened the shift, done our jobs and gone home however this wasn’t ever the case, it may have been on a day to day basis but he was always challenging us to better ourselves, deal with issues that came up from customers or staff and go on development training.
In the 8 months I worked for him he put me through, first aid training, fire marshal training, food hygiene training and I started an NVQ which was a significant amount more than I had done at any previous role or any of my counterparts in the business were doing. The average business spends 34.7 hours a year training a full-time employee according to Statista.
If you look at the single restaurant I think everyone would agree that he was the leader of the restaurant, even after his sixth pint at the bottom of the bar, he would always buy the first round of drinks at the end of the shift or ask the kitchen to cook a meal if you were starting to flag towards the end of a busy service. He was a great leader for that individual restaurant and although he won awards and people came to him for advice and training I could guess that he wasn’t the only one who was looked at this way within the chain of over 300 restaurants, after all, I only had visibility of about 7 managers.
The training course I was leading wasn’t with a single site, it was working with the executive management teams discussing expansion plans with the company specifically looking to implement structured systems into what to do to lay a platform for training so they are able to push nationally within the next 2 years. The team they will be bringing in to run each area of the country would be looking after their own teams and therefore there will be an element of management and leadership needed in what they do, therefore I don’t believe that it is fair to give them a singular title.
According to a study done by Comstock in 2017 63.6% of people voted it was harder to be a good manager than a good leader compared with 9.1% claiming leaders had it harder and 27.3% opting they are both as hard as one another.
Everyone on the basic level is a manager. As outlined in the oxford dictionary,
“A manager is a person responsible for controlling or administering an organisation or group of staff”
So why do we put a bigger focus on trying to make everyone a leader? All you have to do is look at Google. If you Google ‘business leader’ you get 15,960,000,000 results compared to 5,740,000,000 of ‘ business manager' but surely if we try and make everyone a leader then no one is a leader?
I believe it is harder to be a great manager than a leader as everyone is a manager, all the time. If you consider a cleaner on a site, they are managing their time and equipment on-site or a checkout staff member at a supermarket they have to manage the experience of the shoppers but neither of these examples is expected to lead anything, even if they are promoted to look after members of staff they aren’t expected to lead, they are expected to follow the basic organisational tasks if one of their members of the team isn’t performing then they may have to lead by example to bring them back up to an acceptable standard of performance.
The way we started to look at the question from the training session - Do we want to train our people to be managers or leaders? The answer is neither as there is an overlap of where one ends and the other begins, we may want to give them a foundational knowledge of basic management principles and up train them to be leaders but it depends on what their role is and what we expect from them. So what do we want to train our team to be?
I think we should train them to be integrators.
Visionaries and integrators are born from the brainchild of Gino Wickman who explains
As an example, the Visionary function’s five roles might be as follows (these are the most common): • New ideas/R&D • Creative problem solving • Major external relationships • Culture • Selling big deals The Integrator function’s five roles might be as follows (these are the most common): • Leading, Managing, and holding people Accountable (LMA) • Executing the business plan/P&L results •
― Gino Wickman, Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business
By looking at our team as Visionaries and Integrators in our business we create a clear divide of not only job roles but hierarchical status. For example, the CEO or executive managers of the business are always described as managers, however, we expect them to be the leaders of the company but what we need them to be is the visionaries of the business. As employees we expect them to be looking at a much larger perspective than just the management of the company asking them to do this task or that task or to make sure a task gets completed in line with the systems we have set out?
What we want them to be is the visionaries of the business with the ability to look at the much bigger picture asking questions such as how do we make the business grow in the next 12 months, what additional services can we include in our offering or where are we letting our customers down.
It then comes to the mid-level managers who take the role of the integrators and this is where I believe the confusion is if we are looking for leaders or managers comes from and why we need to change the language to visionaries and integrators.
Integrators sit at every level in a business and are the true driving force to growth and scalability, they can also be referred to as the glue that holds each seniority level and department together. They provide the true cadence for the business using both leadership and management to make sure that all tasks get completed in line with the business systems but also act as a motivator to lead their teams forward.
Although much is written about Walt Disney who was a true Visionary, a lot of his success came down to his brother Roy Disney’s ability to make things happen (Integrator). In 1934 when Walt wanted to create Snow White, the first film using nothing but animation, he was laughed at but, with a budget of £500,000 he set to work. With critics predicting a flop of the film, it was dubbed ‘Disney’s Folly’. As production moved on the film started to move behind schedule and into debt so it was left to Roy to go and raise more money to make sure the film was finished, Roy had to go out and inspire investors to continually add more money to a pot and to manage the team of writers and animators to keep them engaged. However, in 1937 Snow While was released and was a massive success earning over $8 Million in its first run as well as an academy award.
The importance of integrators can also be seen in Olympic sports, all you have to do is look at Olympic athletes who train for years for their moment of glory, although they have the vision of what they achieve they all have coaches and teams around them to help manage every aspect of their training.
When a sports team steps out onto a pitch it's not the manager's role to motivate the players, although they still have an important role it now comes to the captain to manage the team while on the pitch. However, the captain isn’t always the team leader but both sit within that integrator role. Michael Jordan is renowned for being the greatest basketball player of all time and is often praised for leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships however he wasn’t ever the captain of the team because he couldn’t manage the team he could only lead them.
When we are looking at the team we are putting in place it's important to look at the role we are asking them to play. Should we class them as a manager, leader, visionary or integrator?
The Restaurant Manager
The restaurant manager I worked for was a classic integrator, he worked with the team to make sure we were all hitting the targets we needed to hit but he never worried about moving the company forward because he wasn’t responsible for that.
Walt Disney was a classic visionary, he knew exactly where he wanted to take the Disney company and had no concerns with taking huge risks to achieve what he wanted to achieve but without Roy, at his side, he would never have become as successful as he did. In 1920 Walt’s first business went bankrupt before partnering with Roy in 1923 to start the Disney studios.
Michael Jordan is through and through a leader. He was the person everyone on the team turned to, he knew how to motivate them to victory and most importantly he would always deliver results even if he did lose 1 in 3 games he played.
Why would anyone want to be a manager? A manager nowadays is no more than a title, a manager will keep your company stable and consistent but will slowly kill your business.
So, do we want to train our people to be managers or leaders?
Neither, we want to employ visionaries into our top roles, these are the people who will continually drive the business forward, these are the dreamers, these individuals have an ability that can’t be taught.
Everyone else we want to teach to be integrators, they manage the tasks of the day today making sure that everything is done correctly, the service is delivered correctly and the targets are hit but most importantly they can lead the teams when needed.
At 8 pm every Saturday when the restaurant was fully booked, we were run off our feet and the kitchen had a 20-minute wait on it, the restaurant manager would leave his stool at the end of the bar and earn his respect from the team, he would cook chips in the kitchen fryer, clear tables, run drinks, chat to the customers and make the team laugh and advise the seater on how to control the flow of people so no one got overwhelmed. He did it all in his stride, never breaking a sweat and there was never a problem.
He was a true integrator.
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