You don’t manage people, you manage things.

You Lead People – Admiral Grace Hooper

In today’s episode: We discuss the differences between leaders and managers. Too often these roles get confused. Those with successful teams understand that the importance of being a leader and leading their teams and only managing the tasks.


manager vs leaderHere are the Show Notes from the Episode: 

**keep in mind that show notes are raw and only highlight what is in the episode. Listen to the show for the full content**


Episode 29 – Think Like a Leader Not a Manager

The Local Small Business Coach


You don’t manage people; you manage things. You Lead People –  Admiral Grace Hooper


Welcome back to the Local Small Business Coach Podcast, I am your coach Tammy Adams.

Today we are going to discuss something that is near and dear to my heart. Something that I feel is critical to your business’s success.  And this is a subject that I think so many people get wrong, not only in small business but in any business. I have watched many leaders through the years not under the difference between being a manager and being a leader.


There is a quote that sums up what you need to remember:

You don’t manage people; you manage things. You Lead People –  Admiral Grace Hooper

As I mentioned, I’ve seen many people that assume they are the same thing. That a manager is a leader and a leader is a manager. The reality is, they are completely hats that a business person will wear.  As a local small business owner, these are two roles you will want to make sure that you fully understand.  Let’s take a closure look shall we?


When to Wear the Manager Hat

The manager hat comes easy for everyone. After all, most of what we do, will fall under this umbrella.  When we are working on our marketing we are wearing our manager hat. When we are doing the actual tasks of the business we are wearing our manager hat. When we are working on our numbers or ordering inventory, we are wearing our manager hat.  When we are doing our bookkeeping or invoicing, we are wearing our manager hat. You get the idea. Whenever you are working on any task within your business, you are wearing your manager hat.


When to Wear the Leadership Hat

Now, let’s look at the leadership hat, typically it will involve your interaction with your people.  However, the leadership hat is more than this, which we will discuss in a few minutes.  When we think of leaders, we think of people that inspire, people that provide direction and people that fire us up and motivate us.

You are wearing your leadership hat when you are speaking to your employees. Think about it, you are trying to inspire them to give great customer service, to have the best store or maybe the best company. You are providing them the expectations and more importantly the “why”.

Another aspect of leadership has to do with your role in the community and with your peers.  You are wearing your leadership hat when you setting the example with other business owners and with how your community will view you and your company.  Your company’s brand and reputation is all about the leadership you provide it. So it is important to recognize that even one person local small businesses have a need to understand when they are wearing their manager hat vs their leadership hat just as much as a brick and mortar or any other team business.


Why Do These Terms Get Confused?

local small business coachWhat causes folks to confuse the manager hat and the leadership hat, is how we use the word manager. Think about it, we have store managers, assistant managers, department managers & office managers.  We use the word manager over and over when we discuss who leads our teams.

When your employees go home at night, they talk about their “manager” not their leader. But the ironic thing is, they are actually discussing what type of “leadership” they had that day from their manager.

An example might be: “Today my manager yelled at me to clean the lobby”.  Yes, the manager was discussing a “task” if it were, but the what the employee was upset about was how this person provided “leadership”.  If they were asked to clean the lobby and explained why it was needed, the odds are it would not have been dinner conversation that day.

Day in and day out, we are overseeing the tasks that need to get accomplished. The reason the two words have become interchangeable is because many times, it is our people that are doing the actual tasks.  They are the ones doing the “doing” and they are the ones interacting with our customers. We feel we need to manage these tasks to ensure they get done properly. Which is true.

The problem is, you are really trying to provide direction and leadership. Communicating what needs done and why it is important. So, in any given moment, you are swapping back and forth between these two hats.  Let’s use the lobby example. You are managing the task of keeping the clean lobby but unless you are doing personally, you need to lead the people to ensure your customers have a great experience. If done correctly, they will react quickly and often without your needing to prod them. However, if done incorrectly, you will need to always be on them to do this task. Think about it, do you really want to have to tell them to do it all the time or would you rather they just did it out of a passion to ensure the customer has a great experience?


Who Has Made an Impact on You?

Let’s take a moment and see who has made an impact on you.

Think about a boss you had in the past that you hated. Someone that you would never want to work for ever again. What words pop to mind about this person?

When I’ve done this exercise in the past, not only did a person come to mind right away like it might have for you, so do the words that they associate with this person.

Things like, they never did what they promised, they had a bad attitude, they yelled at people, they were a jerk, and my personal favorite, they were a liar. For me personally, the person that pops to my mind would always lie to keep out of trouble. No matter who he threw under the bus. The sad part was, he was a nice guy, but had no clue how to think of anyone but himself when it came to work.

I remember the day I got a promotion I had worked my butt off for, he told me he made me the person I was. I looked at him and right before I said what I was thinking, I paused. I realized he was right. He taught me all the things I would never become.

You might have a similar story. We all have someone that we hope to never, ever have to work for or see again. Odds are, they were a crappy manager and a horrible leader.


Now, if I was to ask you about your favorite boss of all time, who comes to mind?

What words pop in your head?  Are they words like, inspirational? They did what they said they would? They were a Great teacher? They Pushed you? They Challenged you? They listened to you? Your ideas mattered? They were fair?


Doesn’t it sound like they were the complete opposite of the crappy boss? 

Do you also notice that in both cases it was their leadership skills you remember, not how they managed things?


The purpose of today’s podcast is to challenge each of you to step back and ask yourself, are you spending your days with your manager hat on or your leadership hat on? Are you moving between them in the right manner? Or are you plowing through the tasks and not taking the time to lead your people?

The reason this is so critical is, when we lead people, our daily lives become much easier. When you spend your day managing things, you keep getting what you got the day before, when you spend your day leading your people, your team shoots for a higher standard and you get to spend more time taking your businesses to the next level.

When you manage people, you create folks with no loyalty and even worse, no skin in the game of your business’s success.

When you spend your day leading your people, you create strong teams with low turnover. You create a team of people that fight each day to make your business the best they can.

So I ask you, are you managing your people or are you managing tasks and leading your people? Do your shift leaders or team leaders know the difference?


It just dawned on me as I said these words that I’ve been passionate about this for quite some time. I actually have an analogy that I’ve used throughout the years. Heck, I even wrote a book on it that I have in the Kindle store for ereaders.  It is called Understanding Your Team’s Dynamics: Lesson’s Learned from an Amusement Park Ride.


Too funny that I totally forgot about it until just now. I know you might not believe me but it’s true.

Since you are curious, I’ll share the version I usually do and if you are curious on the actual book, just look for it in the Kindle store or see the link in the shownotes.

Understanding Your Team’s Dynamics: Lesson’s Learned from an Amusement Park Ride

Here is the premise of the book. Have you ever been to Disneyland or Disneyworld as a kid? If so, do you remember the Autopia ride?  This is the ride where kids got to drive cars around a track.

This was my favorite ride as a kid when we would go to Disneyland. I grew up in Orange County so when I got older and started working, my brother and sisters always wanted to go there for their birthdays.

The cool thing about this ride was all the different ways people would drive the course. You had some that would drive real fast, some would drive real slow. Some would try hard to make the car jump the guide bar and others like me, would try and not touch that bar at all to prove how good of a driver we were.

No matter what type of driver got in the car, no matter how they acted out on the track, no matter how much they drove each other crazy out there, the bar down the center of the road guided them safely home.

You see, our employees, our team are like those drivers. They all have different ways of getting things done. You as the leader of this crazy team is that bar down the track. You are the leader that guides them through the journey and gets them safely home. Without this bar, the course would be chaos.  Like the bar on the track, it would be thick around the dangerous corners and thin during the straight aways. A leader knows when to give people plenty of room to try new things and when reign them in.

In the book, I go into more detail on what these “kids” grow up to be like and how as a leader you can work with them. I had a lot of fun writing the book and diving in deeper. If you are interested, check it out. Once again it is called,

Understanding Your Team’s Dynamics: Lesson’s Learned from an Amusement Park Ride


Well, this wraps up another episode. As you go about your day today, put some thought into how you are wearing your manager hat and your leadership hat. Think about your team leaders. How are they doing? Do you need to spend some time developing their skills?  And don’t forget this awesome quote from earlier:

You don’t manage people; you manage things. You Lead People –  Admiral Grace Hoope


Don’t forget, I’m doing some one on one coaching calls and I’m giving away a free coaching call each week. What I’m going to do is, for all of the folks that leave either a review for the show or leave a question for the show, I’m tossing them into a hat and pick a random person to get the free coaching call. So once you leave either a call or rating, shoot me an email at to let me know and I’ll make sure you are included in the drawing.


So until next time, remember, if you like what we are taking about, then make sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode, if you love the podcast and what we are talking about, then please leave a 5 star review so other local small business owners know this is a podcast that they can’t miss.


And don’t forget to visit the website at to leave your question for me to possibly answer on the podcast in the future. You can leave it via the Speakpipe button or just shoot me an email.


Meanwhile, I wish you the best in your business and remember: Great Customer Service, coupled with Great business practices will set you on the path to Great Profits!

Bye for now…..






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Two Great Books to Help You With Your Small Business:

Highly Recommend all Local Small Business Owners Read the eMyth by Micheal Gerber. You will learn some critical things about running your business.


The second book is one I wrote based off a popular example I always use when folks are trying to understand their role as a leader with their people. Check it out.