Life as a cat herder – leadership vs. management

The difference and how to be good at both

Running a successful credit union branch can be a lot like herding cats. You need a plan for how to get it done, and you need to know what you will be doing with all those cats! You don’t want to get them all in one place and then wonder, “What now?”

Before the fur flies, it helps to have a good idea of what your leadership style is.  Here at the Omnia Group, we recognize 17 distinct styles, and each of them motivate in different ways. You can’t make your team work as a unit if you don’t understand who you naturally are as a leader. Are you more of a “lead from the trenches” type, waving a squeaky toy in front of the furry hordes, or a “big picture” person who manages from the back with a laser pointer? Are you more empathetic or more logical? Do you seek to build consensus or require a more structured system for getting things done?  

Knowing who you are as a leader will help you be a cat whisperer, able to set goals effectively and motivate your team to work toward those goals. That, in turn, will increase your brand recognition and make your branch more successful.

Now that you have the attention of all those cats and are communicating well with them, how do you keep them together long enough to finish the job without losing focus and wandering off?

Maybe some in your pride are assertive and want to explore the outdoors with little assistance, while others are happier sitting on a windowsill providing support. Perhaps others will need significant guidance because they are so focused on perfection. Still more may be inclined to make great leaps, knowing that if they fail they can shake it off and try again.

This is all about your management style: not only being able to apply what you know about yourself as a leader, but also your knowledge of the people on your team. Getting them to work together efficiently and harmoniously may sometimes seem like you’re trying to keep the cats off the counter. But once you understand who they are and what motivates them ─  Personal performance incentives? Perks? Constant challenges? ─ and are able to identify the right approach, it becomes a lot easier.

Understanding how to guide each employee separately as well as help them acclimate to your culture and positively interact with each other can make or break your success.

Leadership and management are often presented as being in conflict, two positions with different outlooks and goals for the future. “Leaders have followers” and “managers have subordinates,” are the classic lines of division. But these lines don’t really fit into today’s business culture where the roles are now intermingled. Being able to examine each separately and evaluate what they bring to the big picture is important, of course. But so is being able to see how leadership and management traits blend, so you can use both to become better at herding your own particular group of cats.

Leadership and management aren’t scratching and clawing at each other for survival. They are essential pieces that are needed for success. Leadership is about having the ability to influence while management oversees the operations and processes. You need them both, and those roles need each other to become the best that they can be. You can have processes in place, but if the people aren’t motivated it doesn’t matter. Conversely, you can have motivated people ready and eager to work, but if there is no clear direction nothing will get accomplished. Leadership and management are locked together, in purpose and intent.

It doesn’t matter if you are literally herding cats or if it just feels like it some days: self-awareness is a strong starting point for building upon your leadership and management skills. Understanding and utilizing the aspects of who you are as both a manager and a leader will make you more efficient in all your roles. It helps you understand what you need from your team and helps you know what your team will need from you and one another.

The Omnia Leadership Profile helps you find clear, cogent answers to the question of what kind of leader and manager you are. With this tool, you can identify the style of leadership best suited to you and manage your team most effectively. Knowing your strengths, potential weaknesses, and how they will manifest themselves in your leadership role is crucial. It’s like catnip for your success.

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt, a popular seminar speaker, is the SVP at The Omnia Group.  She offers clients advice on how to manage more effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, weaknesses ... Web: Details