Leadership vs Management: What is best for Recruitment Managers?

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Peter Drucker

The topic of leadership vs management exploded in the 1980s and is still a relevant question for recruitment agencies today. But what makes leadership and management different from one another? How do the two interact with each other? And can one person be both a leader and a manager?

Before we discuss whether you can be both an effective leader and manager, here’s a brief definition of the two:

What is the definition of leadership?

Leadership tends to be focused on future possibilities by creatively thinking about the mission of the business, what can change, how they can inspire their workforce and what the unified organisation’s purpose is. Leaders are mission-orientated – concerned with group direction and inspiring trust in team members.

The key responsibilities of a leader are to:

  • Create the mission, vision and values of your agency, defining the raison d’etre
  • Define and evolve the overall strategy
  • Consult and refine operational processes
  • Inspire enthusiasm
  • Anticipate trends and fluctuations in the market and advise on the strategy to take advantage of opportunities

What is the definition of management?

Management is more concerned with achieving targets and completing goals following a task-based, organisational approach.

The key responsibilities of a manager are to:

  • Accomplish the visions of the senior leadership team by taking their strategy and transforming it into a logical roadmap to guide the team
  • Direct the friction-less running of the day-to-day operations
  • Be the go-to for issues and problems that need to be escalated
  • Provide training and support to your recruiters

Can the two roles be blended?

By now, you should have a clear understanding of what a manager and a leader are and how the two roles differ. You should be able to recognise which definition you mostly fall into. But can the two roles be blended? Well, this may depend on the size of your recruitment agency:

Start-up or small recruitment agency (1-10 employees)
In some cases, particularly at smaller recruitment agencies, being both a leader and manager is a necessity. You must adopt the qualities of a leader while being flexible enough to get stuck in with day-to-day management of day-to-day processes.

Medium-sized recruitment agency (10 – 50 employees)
Once your agency grows in size – at approximately the 10-15 person mark – it starts to become impossible for one person to be both the leader and the manager. This is often where the owner will devote more of their efforts towards the responsibilities of a leader; namely the mission, vision and values of the agency. The role of manager may well be taken up internally or the agency may wish to recruit a manager.

Large recruitment agency (50 employees+)
In larger agencies, this separation will already be established, with core leadership teams who work together to evolve the strategy of the agency and perhaps, branch and office managers who direct the processes.

To attain consistency nationally and internationally, it is key to the success of large agencies for the strategy and tactics to be clear, documented and accessible. This will allow a unified culture to develop even in different countries and languages.

If you feel there’s a need for more leadership or management at your agency, think about the appropriate level of balance in these roles. Alternatively, if you think your management style needs to adopt some leadership impetus, evaluate the qualities of leadership, identifying what you already do and what your business requires in order to thrive.

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