A good question to ask if you’re in Management is, Are you a Manager or a Leader? In this week’s blog, virtual CFO David Officen looks at what makes a manager, a good leader.

Can you imagine a sporting team being successful without a captain and strong leaders? Nor can I.  Well business is just the same. Without strong leadership, a business will struggle to grow and achieve greatness. Leadership is the key to making everything in business work together seamlessly.

A person who is put in charge of ‘stuff’ may be given the title of Manager – but this does not make them a leader. A leader is someone who excels at coaching and getting the most from their team. If you are part of a management team, which person are you? Are you a leader or a manager? In an honest self-assessment, can you say your employees feel inspired by you? Do they use your advice to improve their work performance? If you do not take an active interest in the development of your people and think that your role stops at distributing work and approving holidays you are probably not a leader.

A manager may understand the job description, oversee people under them with regularity, maintain weekly communications and conduct performance evaluations. They probably monitor employee progress as required by their organisation and address disciplinary issues from time to time. These people do not focus on building up employees as people. They are merely going through the motions and meeting the basic requirements of their position.


Leaders motivate and inspire and are concerned about the people working for them.  They know that their success is determined by the level of success of their team members.  Leaders take a long-term view and ask questions rather than give instructions.  They develop the vision and help people see where the business is going.

Leaders Bring Out the Best in Employees 

The leadership role is something that is cherished by people who want to develop the talents of the people working under them.  True leaders will stop at nothing to bring the people with the best ideas to the table.  They won’t be afraid to take risks and find new ways to complete each project. When a company must trim the fat, especially by reducing payroll, leaders recognise that they will have to help employees overcome discouragement and to achieve more results with fewer resources.  They will have to motivate even as some employees get terminated or have their weekly hours reduced.

Leaders Practice Clear Communication

Regardless of the current financial position of the organisation, leaders brainstorm how to strategically use each employee to complete performance objectives.  Managers tend to complain, to assign blame to employees for the team’s failures, and tend to ask their own boss for more support.  They don’t accept responsibility for increasing performance from a weak team.  Leaders who develop people ask themselves questions like these:

  • What do my team members need for success with this project?
  • How can I get these resources for them?

Once real leaders realise what must be done, they set goals and communicate them clearly to all workers, ensuring everyone understands their role and what final implementation looks like.  They arrange for training and coaching opportunities to help the weak get stronger.

Leaders Have Consistent Follow-Through

Real leaders cannot expect to get results from workers in the long run if they don’t follow through on the details of what employees need to succeed.  This includes giving employees the resources that are promised to them and holding them accountable for using those resources wisely. If you truly wish to lead, then you must not be afraid to make tough decisions.  This might include deciding that someone who’s not meeting her objectives after receiving coaching and support gets cut from the team.  If you will lead, you must not let your team down.  You must find solutions in the face of adversity and then move the team to give maximum effort to project after project.


About David Officen

David Officen

proCFO Founder and Managing Director

David is the Founder and Managing Director of proCFO.
David combines an accounting and consulting background with commercial experience both as a manager for large commercial businesses and as the owner of private and family businesses.



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