How A Great Leader Can Be A Bad Manager

Is it possible to be both great and awful at two things which seem to be so inextricably linked?

Jekyll and Hyde

Leadership and Management are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are in fact distinctly different things. Leadership is a part of the role of every manager, but great leaders do not have to be great at management.

Directing people is part of the role of every manager and that does involve some elements of leadership, but a manager can still do a good job without being a particularly great leader. A great leader, however, can be pretty awful at many aspects of management. Having said that, they are unlikely to be really successful as a leader without having at least a good understanding of what an important and essential role management plays in their business.

Here are three examples of how a good leader can do without some of the skills and qualities considered essential to managers:

1. Leaders do not need to be good at detail.

A manager needs to understand the detail of how tasks will be achieved, who is going to do what and when. They need to be well organized, capable of planning and devising the most efficient systems of working. A leader on the other hand will have their eyes on the horizon, taking a top level, strategic view of things. They do not need to be good at working out the detail and solving operational problems, in fact their vision can be hampered by thinking too much about the minutia.

The leader has to be able to see which direction the organization needs to be travelling in, but does not need to be any good at working out exactly how to get there.

2. Leaders do not have to follow rules and avoid risks.

Part of being a good manager involves the avoidance of undue risks and focussing on establishing and following rules and guidelines. These are the ways in which the required tasks can be achieved in the most efficient way.

A leader does not (and indeed should not) need to be constrained by rules and the need to avoid risk. In fact they are very unlikely to be great leaders if they are. The leader must always be challenging the status quo and be willing to try new and risky things in order to move the company on.

3. Leaders do not need to be good at controlling people

A manager is in an appointed position and exercises control over people through that official status. They must have an understanding of how to ensure those under their control are doing all the things they need to do. A leader, on the other hand, does not have to be in a formal position in order to be recognised as a leader. They do not need to be concerned with how to persuade people to do what they are told, because people choose to follow them voluntarily.

When people follow great leaders, it is not because they know they are subordinates and must do what they are told. The leader inspires loyalty and trust through their own behaviours. They take responsibility and blame where appropriate, they frequently give credit and recognition and they celebrate success. It is these and other actions, along with their passion, enthusiasm and vision that inspire people to follow them.


While leadership and management are both essentials in successful businesses, all the elements of each one does not have to be found in the same person. There are great managers and there are great leaders. Some are fortunate enough to be good at both, but many are not.

How To Become Self Employed In 7 Simple Steps

Becoming self employed is actually a very simple process. The only essential actions you need to take are to do with making sure you are registered for paying income tax and national insurance. However, there are a few other key things that you should also consider as you make the exciting move into self employment.

If you are planning to start a business, a common question is ‘at what point do you officially become self employed?’ The key point to be aware of here is that you need to register as self employed as soon as you begin looking for work. It does not matter whether you are successful in getting work or not, but you should be self employed from as soon as you begin to seek work for yourself.

For the purposes of this post I am going to assume that you will be working as a sole trader rather than a limited company or partnership. If you set up a limited company, you are technically an employee of that company, rather than self employed, so do not need to register.

1. Register For Income Tax

To officially become a self employed person in the UK you just need to register with HMRC and fill in a tax return every year. On the HMRC website you have the option to register for several types of business tax at the same time, including VAT and corporation tax. If you will be employing other people you can register as an employer for PAYE (pay as you earn) too. Most people starting out as self employed will only need to register for self assessment to pay income tax.

You still need to register as a business even if you already file a personal tax return every year. You can find the link to relevant page on the HMRC website.

2. Arrange To Pay National Insurance

As soon as you are self employed you will need to start paying class 2 National Insurance contributions. The easiest way to pay is to set up a direct debit. If you do this the amount due in 2013/14 is £142.45 for the year, divided into twelve monthly payments.

You may be exempt from class 2 national insurance if your earnings are below a certain level. In 2013/14 if you are likely to earn less than £5,725 you may not need to pay class 2 NI. You will need to apply for exemption in advance.

Class 4 national insurance is a completely separate tax and this is paid in relation to any profit you make. This will be payable after your financial year has ended, as with income tax. It is very important to put money away regularly to cover the tax and class 4 national insurance that will be due after you have done your tax return.

3. Choose The Right Name For Your Business

It is worth giving plenty of thought to the name under which you will trade. It could just be your own name, which is nice and easy, but if you plan to trade under a business name, there are a few things you need to consider.

First of all, make sure that the name you are planning on using is not already registered or trademarked by someone else. You can do this quickly online. Your business name also needs to send the right message to potential customers, so should convey something about what it is you are going to be offering.

Do not settle on a name without first checking and registering the appropriate domain names.

4. Get Your Basic Record Keeping In Order

You can save yourself time and money by setting up some basic systems at the outset, which will allow you to keep orderly records of your income and expenditure. In particular you need to keep receipts and any invoices you have paid for any business expenses. This is important because these costs will be set against any income you make to reduce how much profit you declare and therefore how much tax you pay. It will also save you money when you pay your accountant to do your end of year accounts. Their time is money, so you don’t want to pay them to sort out shambolic record keeping.

5. Make Arrangements For Where You Will Work

Working from home is the easiest and cheapest option, so is highly recommended as the best way to begin. For some businesses, of course, this is not possible, so you must arrange a suitable place of work. Be sure to keep costs as low as possible when you are just starting out in business. You can always expand as your business grows.

6. Have Insurance In Place

If you employ any staff you are legally obliged to have employers’ liability insurance for at least £5million. If you are working on your own, you may still need some insurance to protect your business against damaging claims. The most obvious ones to consider are public liability cover and professional indemnity protection.

7. Have A Business Plan

By rights this point should come before all of the others, because you really ought to have a good business plan in place well before you actually become self employed and begin trading. This should be the blueprint that outlines all the important elements of how your business will work. There is a full guide on how to write a business plan in the Resources section of this website.

8 Ways To Ensure Success For Your New Business

You are no doubt aware that most new businesses fail, so you need to do all you can to ensure that yours will not be one of them. Sometimes great business ideas do not succeed because of a lack of attention to a few key practical areas. By paying attention to the following you can make sure you give your new businesses every chance of success in the long term.

1. Plan Before You Start

The best way to get to grips with all the things you are going to have to do in order to get your business off to a good start is to create a proper Business Plan. This is not just something you put together to persuade investors to come on board, it is primarily a tool to help ensure that you understand every aspect of what you are about to do, making it far less likely that you will be knocked off course by the unexpected. Make sure that a good accountant is part of your planning so that you properly consider things like tax liability, VAT and company structure.

2. Understand Your Finances

You can’t leave financial matters entirely up to your accountant. As the business owner you must understand and be responsible for how your business works financially. Unless you really know what is going on, you are not going to be able to prepare a realistic cash flow forecast, and if you don’t do that you are not going to know whether you need to borrow money, when you need it or for how long. Get this under your belt and take steps to secure the funding you need to cover the times when you may need a cash injection. Cash flow problems are the thing most likely to kill off your business, so knowing when you are going to need cash and making sure you have it in place is vital.

3. Put Agreements In Writing

You are almost certainly going to be relying on various other companies and individuals to provide goods or services that you need in order to carry out your own business. Do not be tempted to be too casual about such vitally important arrangements. Where appropriate use proper contracts, but always confirm everything in writing, paying attention to the detail. When everything is going well it can seem like an unnecessary waste of time, but you have to consider what could happen further down the line if you are not getting what you were promised and when relationships are no longer so rosy.

4. Keep It Lean And Mean

When you are starting up it is wise to try to keep your commitments to those that you can get rid of easily if you need to. Avoid being a direct employer if you can use a freelance person or outsource the function instead. If you suffer a drop in turnover and need to reduce your overheads you need to be able to react quickly to avoid financial problems. Work in partnership if you can and look at ways to share responsibilities with other companies.

5. Spend As Little As Possible On Premises

The type of premises you require will depend to a great extent on the nature of your business, but take care not to commit to fancy or large premises if you could manage without. Ideally you should work from home if your business allows. If you need to meet people you can always go out to them or hire meeting rooms locally if you really need to. Spending money on occasional meeting space is far less costly than the ongoing overhead of having your own premises. You can expand and improve your premises as your business grows. Keep the two things in proportion.

6. Give Some Thought To Health And Safety

Not exactly the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning (unless your business idea is to do with health and safety of course), but this is an area where you must at least have some awareness of your responsibilities as an employer and business owner. Working for yourself at home, this is going to be no problem, but if you have premises, employ staff, have hazardous materials on site or engage in potentially dangerous processes, then you must take is seriously and may need professional input.

7. Take Out Appropriate Insurance

Insurance may not excite you, but not having it could put you out of business. Some insurance, such as employers’ liability, is compulsory, whereas other types of business insurance are a matter of protecting yourself against claims that could damage the viability of your business. Public liability cover is the most obvious one and this is to defend you against claims by any third party for injury or damages. This is particularly important if you have clients or members of the public on your premises, or if you or your staff work on other people’s property. Other options include stock cover, fixtures and fittings, building and contents insurance and professional indemnity.

8. Build Relationships And Networks

Networking is not only a good way to generate leads and new business, but can be a great source of keeping up to date with other issues and developments that can affect your business. The more people in your local area or in your market sector that you have good relationships with, the more options you have for calling in favours or getting help or special deals if you ever need to. People running any sort of business will encounter the same problems that you do, and having people that you can bounce problems and ideas off can be a great help too.

Photo Credit: Business Graph

Discover The 10 Secrets Of Winning Arguments At Work

man with megaphone
We all like to win an argument, but at work there can be far more than just your personal pride at stake. As a leader, or as part of team, it is important that you are able to manage arguments effectively. You need to ensure that your opinions are fully understood by others, but you also need to understand why someone objects to your point of view.

Even if you know you have a good point, you can still lose an argument for a variety of reasons. These ten tips will help to ensure that you always manage to get your opinions across in an argument:

1. Find out what your opponent is worried about, and address that issue:

Your opponent is arguing because there is something they are afraid of or worried about. This could be the main subject of the argument, but you should also be aware that the argument may just be a symptom of an anxiety about something related to it. Be prepared to delve a bit deeper to identify what it is they are afraid of. When you know what this is, examine the options for how to address their concern.

2. Do not allow your opponent to tell you what your opinion is and do not presume to tell them theirs:

Often in arguments people are arguing against an opinion that they believe (wrongly) is held by the other person. Be careful not to do this yourself and do not allow it to be done to you. Take the time to ask the other person to explain their view and make sure you listen to the response. This can help avoid having arguments about problems that do not actually exist.

3. Do not get dragged into past problems and misdemeanors, but concentrate instead on what can be done differently in future:

A lot of arguments can be traced back to historical grievances or grudges. Dwelling on these things will usually just result in going round in circles, so it is important to acknowledge the past, but then focus attention on what actions you can agree to improve things from now on.

4. Resist the urge to interrupt:

When someone says something that you don’t agree with, or which you think is incorrect, the urge to interrupt can be overwhelming. You must resist it, otherwise your opponent will not be allowed to have their say and feel (understandably) that they are not being listened to. They will then feel frustrated, which could lead to anger. Let them finish, then give your own balanced reasons why you do not agree with what they have said.

5. Don’t get angry – get reasonable:

You have to understand that as soon as you raise your voice you have lost the argument. No matter what the other person says, you should not raise your voice. If they raise theirs, it is even more important that you remain calm, both in voice and body language. What happens all too often is that one person raises their voice a little, and the other person does the same and within seconds it has escalated into a shouting match. When this happens no-one is going to achieve anything. It is up to you to remain calm yourself and encourage the other person to do so by your actions. You could suggest that you both remain calm, but steer clear of phrases like ‘calm down’ or ‘cool it’, which are only likely to make things worse.

6. Give way on unimportant issues:

You do not have to slam your opponent on every single statement they make. Giving way on minor points that do not ultimately matter much can go a long way to making them more amenable over the bigger issues.

7. Aim for movement in the right direction, rather than a hands down win:

It may be unrealistic to expect to convert your opponent entirely to your point of view, so try to get agreement to some movement in the right direction. Once you achieve that, it is much easier to make further progress later.

8. Stick to facts that you can prove and steer clear of personal opinion:

In the heat of an argument it can be tempting to bring in the opinions of others, or things that you have heard from other people. This can be fatal unless you know you can back it up with evidence. Assume such statements will be challenged or denied, and don’t use them if you cannot back them up as fact.

9. Stick to the point and avoid being side-tracked into peripheral issues:

A common pattern in arguments is for them to move into wider areas than the starting point. Sometimes these can still be relevant, but very often they are not, and if you are not careful, most of your time is spent arguing about something else. Spot when this happens and bring it back to the main point. If need be you can say the other issue can be discussed separately.

10. Be respectful and discuss behaviours rather than personalities:

It can be all too easy to slide into personal insult in an argument, which can only end badly. You should always treat the other person with respect and if you need to discuss how they are personally you should talk about what they do and what they say, rather than anything about personality. Behaviour can be changed, but an attack on personality can only ever be taken personally.

Can you think of any other tips for winning arguments?