Business - Starting Or Developing a Private Practice For Solo Professionals - Leader Or Manager?
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Business - Starting Or Developing a Private Practice For Solo Professionals - Leader Or Manager?

Often the words leader and manager are used interchangeably and there has been debate about the differences between them. Generally speaking, however, leadership involves power through influence whereas management involves power by position.

I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs and therefore found it confusing to work in government agencies where focus was on the status-quo. Sometimes I was eager to start new projects or implement ideas but then faced disappointment because the manager did not see how these things would fit into the policies and procedures - even if they would have solved problems and expanded services. I have also, however, been frustrated to work in businesses where the owner was a leader who hadn't developed policies and procedures to standardize administrative tasks. The result of this, of course, was that accounting and customer service always seemed to be in a mess!

In 1989 Dr. Warren Bennis, who is widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of Leadership Studies,drew twelve distinctions between the two terms as follows:


  • Managers administer, leaders innovate
  • Managers ask how and when, leaders ask what and why
  • Managers focus on systems, leaders focus on people
  • Managers do things right, leaders do the right things
  • Managers maintain, leaders develop
  • Managers rely on control, leaders inspire trust
  • Managers have a short-term perspective, leaders have a longer-term perspective
  • Managers accept the status-quo, leaders challenge the status-quo
  • Managers have an eye on the bottom line, leaders have an eye on the horizon
  • Managers imitate, leaders originate
  • Managers emulate the classic good soldier, leaders are their own person
  • Managers copy, leaders show originality


Since operating my own business I have found that I have needed to be both leader and manager. As the leader, I have laid out the vision and developed the business itself. This required an ability to innovate and independently take responsibility for not only starting my private practice but also for putting all of the pieces together in a way that it would operate at a profit. At the same time, however, I have been manager. Ensuring that staffing, processes and administration are in place and then monitoring to ensure that tasks are completed in an orderly way are functions that are needed to maintain consistency and meet government and accounting standards.

One of the challenges of operating a private practise is to develop balance between your roles as leader and manager. Both are important to the well-being of a healthy business and together will assist you in learning to enjoy every day as an adventure.

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