We coach recruitment teams, helping them to become more effective. We see many different types of business structure, incentive schemes and company cultures. We meet recruitment stalwarts and novices, generalists and specialists, managers and leaders.
I’d like to take a minute to consider this last category. Recruitment is the sort of industry that produces a lot of results-driven managers, but true leaders are considerably rarer.
I’d like to explore the differences between a manager and a leader in a recruitment context, but this can equally be applicable for any industry.
There is a confusion about this leadership role and I think it starts with our progression schemes. The common route to becoming a Manager is by way of the Team Leader role. Right at the start, we make the only title with the word “Leader” in it the most junior of the Management roles and then when we are good enough, we progress from Leader to Manager and it all starts to go horribly wrong! In creep those two ugly words, “Micro Management”.
By the way, micro management is a management tool that is useful from time to time to steer our team members back on track and would not be seen as a punishment if it is done correctly. Managers as Leaders understand that it is just that, one tool among many. They use it wisely and effectively manage the expectations of their workers.
So, enter the Managers as Leaders as they descend from above in their chariots of gold pulled by six snowy white swans to the sounds of blasting trumpet fanfares. Okay, cut the music, lose the chariot and swans before they make a mess on your new carpets, keep the togas and robes but only on Fridays and consider the actual differences between Managers and Managers as Leaders.
Leaders talk less. Recruiters are often fairly opinionated people. Managers like to have the final say on any situation and leave consultants in no doubt as to what should be done. Leaders stay quiet and calm and allow their teams to work through their problems themselves, only stepping in to coach them where necessary.
Leaders focus on the positives. Recruitment is an industry of emotional highs and lows. Managers work hard to minimize the lows, ensuring that at least minimal levels of candidate care and client satisfaction are met before they move on to the next potential assignment. Leaders accept the lows and move on, focusing instead on increasing the number of highs. Leaders strive to celebrate successes rather than avoid disappointments.
Leaders inspire by example. The best recruitment companies are run by achievers. They have mostly been successful recruiters themselves and have moved up through the ranks. Managers have a tendency to run the business by numbers while leaders retain a passion for finding inspiring candidates for their clients, still billing well into the company’s growth curve. They keep fighting in the trenches.
Leaders give frequent feedback. Decision-making is a key part of a recruiter’s role. The success of any given project depends on their judgement, and frequent feedback is key to improving the outcomes. Managers focus on the “what” they have asked their people to deliver while leaders understand that true growth also comes from the “how” the tasks get done. Leaders are not too afraid to have those difficult discussions. Leaders give consistent feedback to their troops, who in turn learn from their experience. They develop their people.
Leaders play to people’s strengths. I am not a believer in the 360-degree recruitment model. In a mid-sized recruitment business, there should be resourcers, business developers, account managers and the recruiters themselves. Each position requires a slightly different skillset. Managers try to shoehorn people into roles where they are not entirely suited. Leaders understand their peoples’ talents and are flexible when it is clear that a change in activity is required.
Leaders generate enthusiasm. Recruitment can be a very lonely place sometimes. Things don’t always go to plan, through no fault of the recruiter, and consultants can feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. Managers pile on the pressure at this point. Leaders remind people of the good times and help them get through the disappointments.
Leaders fix problems. There are often issues that require the intervention of senior management. Managers will delegate the biggest problems as a “learning experience.” Leaders quickly realize when an issue has the potential to become serious, and they immediately step in to coach and help.
Leadership is an attitude. It is a choice. While Management is seen in a Transactional context, Leadership is concerned with the Transformational context of getting the very best out of our people. In the pressure cooker of a recruitment company, it is so easy to opt for the default “manager” role. Being a leader is so much harder. Have you got what it takes?
We work with up and coming team leaders and junior managers all the way through to the senior board. Give us a call if you would like to know more on 0800 161 5100, Russell Bennett, Co-Founder of RecruiterHub.