One of the main challenges of running a business is knowing how to manage it, both administratively and personally. It may already be, or may become, difficult to figure out how you need to interact with and manage those in your pay—after all, it’s one thing to balance budgets and work out company logistics, it’s another to try and effectively manage people. If you haven’t figured it out already yourself, business administration and leadership are two different things entirely, even if they float towards similar goals. Ultimately, the difference lies in how the two approach similar challenges.
Business administrators frequently tend to be rational problem solvers, with a head for numbers and an excitement for flowcharts. In an ideal situation, a successful business administrator is very rarely seen—they don’t micromanage, yet their influence is widely felt throughout the company. Ultimately, they work behind the scenes to ensure that the business operates as smoothly as possible.
Yet, while business administrators tend to direct, leaders will often inspire by example. To this end, they are very active and very adaptable and can make snap decisions when the situation demands. They’re also very people orientated. Where managers are better with numbers and schedules, leaders are the driving force behind workforces and teams. If managers provide the goals, it’s the leaders who help the company meet them. Naturally, it follows that leadership is used when you want to keep a company moving forward, and to keep it mindful of the people who form it.
The quickest way to figure out which of the two you are is to count the number of people outside your reporting hierarchy who come to you for advice. The more that do, the more likely it is that you are perceived to be a leader.
With all of the above said, however, it is important to note that in today’s business world—already greatly changed from the business world of old—continues to change, sometimes on a near-daily basis it seems, and it is more important that ever to be able to strike a balance between the two, between business administration and leadership. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, however, in the past the two could have been kept separate, where today they cannot.
Think of the two as follows—administration is the head of the operation, but leadership is the heart. A successful business owner needs to be both a strong leader and business administrator to get their team on board to follow them towards their vision of success.