Andrew Miller on Why CEOs Must Lead and Not Manage


Managing and leading people may sound similar to people who aren’t in the know, but these are very different ways to inspire your employees.  There’s a clear winner for which is better, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t both used.

If you’re aiming to grow your company, former Polycom CEO Andrew Miller has some vital facts to share.

What’s Leading

Leading is by showing those around you clear guidance for how things should be.  This plan means taking the time to train, educate, and follow back after people have had time to try on their own.  Leaders work hard to show why things are right and inspire others around them with passion and drive.

The best leaders work by example and have a following of employees or fans that believe in what they’re doing because they’ve proven reliability and skill. Low reliability will stop people from following, and lacking skill will make it impossible for anyone to have any interest.

What’s Managing

Managing is a style of supervising, not leading.  If you manage someone, it’s like hovering over what they’re doing and working to make sure every detail is what you want.  Although leaders also want things to go a certain way, people who manage people are often too rigid- being inflexible means that you’re incapable of seeing when mistakes happen or refusing to admit fault if things go wrong.  This type of supervising can be useful in extremely detailed work, but it often annoys or alienates employees and may force a higher turnover rate.

Which Is Better

Leading by example is better than managing.  Not only does leading allow you to show employees how things should be, but it also implies that you’re willing to listen if they have a better idea.  Managers are usually very rigid and have trouble accepting that someone working beneath them has any good ideas.  Good leadership helps employees stay longer, work better, and make more money for their companies.  Leaders inspire, and managers pick apart employees’ work.

How Could I Use Both, And Should I?

You can use both!  By pairing outstanding leadership with some management, you can offer guides for your employees while also helping them see what you do in the company.  This idea will immediately fail if you micromanage your workers; you will push them away or make them quit.

Consider being a clear leader, working by example, and then managing weekly check-ins and monthly reviews.  Give your employees goals to work towards, so they feel a little competitive, and reward them when they reach these goals.  You can easily combine these into a healthy and productive working style, but listen to your employees and take their feedback if changes aren’t working.

An unhappy employee can quickly become a poor employee, and then an ex-employee.  You don’t want to spend the money and time it takes to train someone new, so work hard to retain the workers you have.  You hired them for a reason; let them show you why.


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