As we come to the end of another hectic year I want to pause and reflect on a conversation I have regularly with clients that has little to do with finance and accounting.

I regularly receive calls from clients about management problems in their business.  “I am struggling with a problem  with my sales manager.  Sales are stagnant and I need to act to deal with the problem.”  “My business has outgrown my hard working operations manager. I don’t want to let the person go but I have to in order to grow.”  “My business has outgrown my bookkeeper buthe/she has been so loyal I feel badly about replacing them.”

I hear the despair in their voices and feel the stress it creates.  The problem has nothing to do with finance and everything to do with management and leadership

In the early stage of a business managing is the key skill that matters.  In small companies with 15 or fewer employees the owner can personally impact every employee.  When success arrives and the employee population grows larger leadership is necessary to help  the enterprise thrive.

Bob Davids, a serial CEO, is fond of saying that you can manage three things:

  1. Quality
  2. Time
  3. Money

Notice that he did not include people on the list.  Oh you can give them tasks, deadlines,deliverables and pay them well and that will get them to engage.  But if you truly want them to follow you and your vision then you’ve got to lead – not manage.

So where do you go to become a leader? Training courses abound and from many sources.  If you want to read about the process before heading off to training here are some useful books on the topic

Serial CEO Bob David’s perspective is that Peter Townsend’s “Up the Orgnization!” is a stellar source of leadership information.

Ben Horowitz of Andreesen Horowitz (a VC firm) wrote in “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” about how to go about fixing problems in your business when things go wrong as they inevitably do.  He emphasizes that decisions have to be made considering the many perspectives that employees have on how decisions affect them and their role.  The perspective of the CEO alone is not enough.

In “The Accidental CEO” Tom Voccola will help you understand the leadership benefits of moving from an ego driven organization to one based purpose and passion of the employees. The cultural transformation he describes is a powerful lesson in leadership.

If you are a business owner who is confronting the challenge of moving from manager to leader you would do well to take some time with these resources.