Rallying inspiration: are you a leader or a manager?

You’ve taken some bold steps this year, hopefully. Some around existing clients, decided on accounts to forgo, determined your team size, reconsidered your pricing, and on at least one occasion, you stood your ground even when it seemed financially challenging.

It’s not about your next feature release or the intricacies of your pricing model. It’s more fundamental, more personal. As a founder, or perhaps one-half of a dynamic duo, where do you see yourself? Are you the torchbearer, ready to leap into the unknown? Or are you the anchor, ensuring today’s operations run smoothly, safeguarding the ship from today’s storms?

It’s not a question of importance—both roles are crucial. But understanding where you naturally fit and if the dynamic is proper can be the difference between a scale-up that merely operates and one that innovates, disrupts, and leads. The future is uncertain, but it’s in that uncertainty where leaders thrive, charting courses through unexplored territories. So, ask yourself: are you setting the course, or are you steering the ship? Both are essential, but only one looks ahead to what’s next.

What is the difference between a Leader and a Manager?

Leadership and management, while closely related, serve distinct roles especially in the context of scaleups. Entrepreneurial leaders often take steps further for the sake of the survival and prosperity of the company, ensuring that they are not just managing but inspiring and innovating.

  • Leaders Inspire: Leaders often work with the future in mind, crafting a vision that serves as a north star for the team. They inspire and motivate, fostering an environment where innovative ideas are born and nurtured.
  • Managers Organize: Managers, on the other hand, are the architects of the present. They ensure that the day-to-day operations of the company are running smoothly, resources are utilized efficiently, and the team is performing optimally.

The Vitality of Leadership in Scaleups

In the context of scaleups, leadership becomes particularly crucial. Boardroom Advisors emphasize the transformational thinking that leaders in scaleups should embody. Leaders in this space are not just expected to manage growth but to anticipate the changes that rapid scaling will bring and navigate through them effectively. Change doesn’t happen by itself, and it’s your responsibility to steer towards any kind of growth. If a new course have been set, you are the one that makes sure the scale-up finds its way and doesn’t get lost along the way.

  • Visionary Thinking: Leaders in scaleups need to share their vision transparently and consistently to ensure that the entire team is aligned and moving cohesively towards common goals.
  • Embracing Change: The journey of scaling is full with changes and challenges. Leaders must not only be adaptable but also ensure that the team is resilient and prepared for the inevitable shifts.

The Significance of Management in Scaleups

While leadership is vital, the role of management cannot be understated in a scaling business. Managers are the linchpins that hold the operations together, ensuring that the visionary ideas of leaders are executed effectively. Leading a scale-up team requires a distinct skillset, ensuring that the foundational pillars of success are solidly in place.

  • Operational Efficiency: Managers ensure that the processes and operations are streamlined and that the resources (both human and material) are utilized effectively.
  • Team Management: Managers are crucial in ensuring that the team is productive, issues are resolved promptly, and that the work environment remains conducive for optimal performance.

Identifying and Filling the Gap

It’s essential for the top echelon in a scaleup to identify whether they lean more towards leadership or management. Recognizing one’s strengths and inclinations can lead to more effective role fulfillment. However, if you find that your team is lacking in one of these crucial roles, it’s imperative to address the gap. If you’re a visionary leader without the knack for day-to-day operations, consider bringing in a strong manager to complement your skills. Conversely, if you’re a meticulous manager but lack the foresight and vision, seeking a leader can be the key to balanced growth.


In the journey of scaling, both leadership and management play pivotal roles. While leaders ensure that the organization is moving towards a visionary future, managers ensure that the path is navigated efficiently and effectively. The real magic happens when these two roles converge, creating a Leader-Manager who can inspire the team, manage operations, and navigate the scaleup through the exciting yet challenging journey of growth.

In your scaleup journey, reflecting on whether you are a leader, a manager, or a blend of both, can offer insightful revelations. If you find a gap in these roles within your team, it’s a strong indicator that it might be time to bring in someone who can fill that void, ensuring a harmonious and effective growth trajectory.

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