[Transcript]E003: Stop Managing and Start Leading

Nina Radetich: Welcome to the Catapult Business Growth podcast. If you are a CEO with revenue exceeding seven figures, and you’re looking for ways to catapult your business, then this podcast is for you. We interview business leaders and talk about issues relevant to growth, management, leadership, and balance. Our goal is to empower you to unlock your potential and manage the unexpected with confidence. Learn more at catapultbusinessgrowth.com. And now, today’s episode.

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Catapult Business Growth. My name is Nina Radetich, and I’m here with Brad Mishlove, CEO of Catapult Groups.

In today’s episode, we are focusing on leadership versus management. What is the difference between the two? And why is it so important for a CEO or a business owner to have both skills?

Brad, it’s good to be with you today.

Brad Mishlove: It’s great to be here. Thanks, Nina.

Nina Radetich: Did I say that right? It is good for a CEO to have both skills.

Brad Mishlove: Well, I think there’s a time and a place for both styles of management and leadership to be integrated within a firm. Leadership, I believe, is the preferred long-term strategy, and every once in a while, you need to manage.

Nina Radetich: What is the distinction between the two? How would you characterize each?

Brad Mishlove: Well, I characterize management as a push type of theory, where you’re pushing along your very directive. If you don’t tell somebody, it doesn’t get done. I look at leadership as a pull strategy, where people are motivated, they have clear expectations, the know the why, they know what’s trying to be accomplished, and in that, they move things forward on their own.

Nina Radetich: Is it control versus influence, in some respects? Is that a good way to look at it?

Brad Mishlove: Yeah, for sure. For sure. That’s part of it, I think. People, I think, like leadership. They like somebody who is inspirational, who has great vision, who has focus. I think conversely, people really dislike working in an environment where they feel managed. Matter of fact, I don’t even like the term “boss,” because it connotes this hierarchy in a firm.

Nina Radetich: But isn’t there need for … I mean, and I think there are companies now that are doing away with the hierarchy set-up completely. Isn’t there a need for that at some level in an organization?

Brad Mishlove: Absolutely, Nina. I think there is a need for hierarchy, and yet, I’d rather people look at it as everybody has a skill set they bring to the table, and a job to do, and that we’re all in this collaborative collegic environment, as opposed to a topdown environment.

Nina Radetich: How does a CEO of an organization, or the leader of an organization, manage to push that culture forward, a leadership culture versus management culture, to the middle managers?

Brad Mishlove: Right. First, I don’t think you can push it.

Nina Radetich: Right, because that’s not leadership.

Brad Mishlove: I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I think it all starts with a great vision, one that the people that work in the firm can understand. When they understand that vision, I think they’re more likely to be able to get behind it. That why, if you will, is important.

Nina Radetich: And that’s very much why very many millennials come to work for organizations, right, because the why is really clear to them, and that’s important?

Brad Mishlove: It is clear. They feel like they’re an important part of something bigger, and that is absolutely critical. It starts with focus. I think it also has to do with having extremely clear expectations. When you begin a project with the end in mind, people know what the end product is supposed to look like. I think they’re going to have a much better sense of where they’re going. Management, though, on the other hand, is, “Do this, and do that, and I want this. And did you check in at 7:00 a.m.? And did you leave at 5:00 p.m.?”, as opposed to, “You know what the job is. Get it done. Here’s some general parameters around it. How can I be of support to you?” because I think good leadership provides a high level of support, but it is less directive.

Nina Radetich: Do managers survive in today’s workplace, because it seems like a less charismatic approach to working?

Brad Mishlove: It is, and I think that over time, managers will go the way of the dinosaur.

Nina Radetich: You do?

Brad Mishlove: I do. I think people prefer to be led than managed. I think as time goes on, and the level of communication increases, and the knowledge increases in the marketplace, I think to be competitive as an employer, you’re going to have to have great leaders in your organization.

Nina Radetich: When, specifically, does a leader need to call on his or her management skills, because there are times when that might be necessary?

Brad Mishlove: I think you have to do it where there is a very short time frame to accomplish whatever it is, whether it’s some type of an emergent condition, that there’s absolutely no room for interpretation, debate, wobble, if you will. It must get accomplished, so no room for error, short duration, and where you have maybe a lack of clarity on the mission. That could be in a crisis, for example, some kind of crisis management situation. It could be on, if you will, on race day. There’s a time for planning, and there’s a time for execution, and a time for that debate to happen. Then there’s a time sometimes where you just got to do it. In those times, which I think it’s rare, it’s OK to be highly directive, highly controlling, and assume a management style. But I can’t imagine that would happen more than a couple times a year for most executives or CEOs.

Nina Radetich: Can leadership be taught, because it seems like it’s so nuanced, and it seems like it would be such an innate trait for many people?

Brad Mishlove: It is a skill, for sure. I think some of it, yes, is innate in people. Some people you say are born leaders, but I think in the business context, Nina, for sure it is a skill. For example, when an employee comes and asks you, “Hey, how do I do this?” Instead of taking an approach of saying, “This is how you do this,” I think it’s better to say, “Nina, how would you approach this?” You get through that, I think, a better sense of learning, maybe empowerment, if you will. I think ultimately you get better results, because you create thinking. When we have a management, a top-down organization, all the thinking has to happen at the top. That’s unbalanced. I think more brains are better, so I want to have people at all levels of the organization thinking and applying their best abilities to whatever the task at hand is.

Nina Radetich: What is it that stops somebody, because that sounds like such a great approach and a great long-term strategy? What is it that stops somebody from using it? Is it, “I don’t have time to have a discussion about what you think. I would rather just tell you what to do, because it’s easier”? What is it that stops them from adopting the leadership style?

Brad Mishlove: First of all, I think being a leader is an intentional process. You have to be intentioned upon it. It does take a little bit more work in the short run. In the long run, I think it’s actually easier and more comfortable and actually feels better through the whole organization. What do they have to do? I think they have to slow down a little bit. You have to pause. You have to think before you speak. And you have to trust. If I were to look at the best category or the best characteristic, if you will, for a leader, it’s that they trust the people they work with. In trusting them to do the right thing, provided they know what’s expected of them, you’re going to get the right thing. Being a leader, I think, has a lot to do with trust, as opposed to management, which is putting everything in a box. I don’t like that approach.

Nina Radetich: Can you recall a time when you have really seen a CEO or an entrepreneur shift from manager to true leader?

Brad Mishlove: I see it daily with the people that we work with at Catapult. I think over time their leadership grows. They’re interested in elevating their employees and creating career paths for them. I think they recognize very strongly that in order to do that, they have to create great leaders at all levels of the organization. I’m seeing it on a really very, very regular basis these days.

Nina Radetich: So many CEOs then, you would argue that it’s worth investing in leadership development within the company?

Brad Mishlove: It is, and it’s not easy. It’s not easy. It’s not what people are used to. It’s not what their parents were used to. It is worth the investment, because frankly, I think it is better. I think it’s far better.

Nina Radetich: In your businesses, how would you characterize yourself in your previous businesses?

Brad Mishlove: That’s funny you should ask.

Nina Radetich: CEO, leader, manager? I thought I’d get personal here, Brad.

Brad Mishlove: Well, I’m a little embarrassed, because the first 10 years out of business school, I thought it was all about the numbers.

Nina Radetich: Interesting.

Brad Mishlove: Then I realized, sort of an epiphany, that it’s actually all about the people, in that great people make great numbers. I had it backwards for about 10 years, thinking if I’ve had 20 more years to think about it, so I’ve had my share, for sure.

Nina Radetich: Did you have an epiphany of sorts that helped you realize that this was a better way of doing things? Brad Mishlove: I don’t remember the specific event or if there was an event, but it certainly took the better part of a decade. I think that’s because I was classically trained in finance, so I was very numerical. I don’t know what shifted for me, but certainly the result was is I started realizing that it was all about the people and that you can only manage so much. You can only, as the leader, know so much, watch so many details. Management was less scalable. I think ultimately it’s more expensive, because instead of having every employee self manage, we’re relying on some structure to provide management for them.

Nina Radetich: That’s interesting. That’s an interesting way to look at it, and I would imagine when CEOs hear that, that makes more sense to them.

Brad Mishlove: Right. It becomes exhausting if managers have to make all the decisions, as opposed to if the employees can make decisions. I know there’s an empowerment. It was a buzzword for a number of years in the business readings. But I think it’s true in a way. If you can look at that, where I have leaders at multiple levels in the organization, the people that are essentially running the company are the ones who are closest to the problems then, because they’re running their departments, their areas of expertise. You got to trust them to make good decisions. If they know what the mission is, they know what’s expected, I think their decisions are going to be just as good as yours, maybe better. So I’d say stop, because it’s exhausting trying to do it all at the top.

Nina Radetich: Developing leaders then is a solid growth strategy, yes?

Brad Mishlove: It is a growth strategy, because it is the role of that CEO, Nina, to be strategic, to find that next river of cash for their company, the next opportunity. If they’re in the weeds, if they’re mired in the weeds, they don’t get that opportunity to get out and look at it from a different perspective, from an outside perspective, from a slow down and look at all the opportunities. And see where that company’s going to go, because where it’s going to go is actually more important than where it’s been.

Nina Radetich: Is there any space in the modern workplace to be developing managerial skills?

Brad Mishlove: That’s probably a question I don’t know the answer to. I would say yes, there probably are, but I think those managerial skills need to include more leadership qualities.

Nina Radetich: What should CEOs be doing to develop leadership skills?

Brad Mishlove: I think first, they should be having conversations. I think those conversations ought to be on a one-to-one format with their direct reports. They ought to be conversational, in terms of, “How can I help support you complete the mission that you have? What do you need? What tools? What resources? What opportunities do you see? How are you developing your people?” Those conversations, as opposed to being directive, become free flowing and collaborative.

Nina Radetich: How does the peer advisory board format of Catapult Groups help develop leaders?

Brad Mishlove: Well, for a number of ways. One is in providing education. We’ve had several speakers around leadership, so those workshops present good data points and experts into those fields. Two, the conversations that I’ve seen lately in our executive board sessions that we have, have been pointed around developing other areas of the company and bringing up the new generation to where they’re ready to lead. Interesting, just yesterday, we were having a conversation about that, in Las Vegas in particular, where our headquarters and our meeting was, is that we had a period for almost a decade where the economy was not great. We had a time where we were not in a hiring mode. Now that the economy is better, and we’re in a hiring mode, there’s a very large gap between the senior staff and the new incoming staff into the company. If you were to rewind 10 or 12 years ago, what employees want today coming into the company is a very different experience than what they wanted perhaps a dozen years ago. It’s interesting, the concept of regular hours, for example, a simple concept like that, it’s changed today. So if you have a rigid structure, which maybe the people who’ve been in the workforce 20 or 30 years, they’re used to that. That’s what they know. They get up in the morning. They go to work. They work all day, and they go home. Others say, “Hey, what do you care how much I work, as long as I get the job done?” It’s incumbent upon those leaders to figure out a way to take both cultures and find a way to make that work, because the people that have been in the firms for 25 and 30 years have a lot to offer to the ones that are coming in, and vice versa. We have to blend those workers into a way that enhances the company, the overall value of the company, at the same time, respecting the different, almost ingrained, work styles of each participant.

Nina Radetich: You almost need a leadership liaison between the two, in some respects, right?

Brad Mishlove: Well, and I think that’s the CEO’s role is to recognize that and make sure that the management, if you will, the leaders, at all points of the organization are aware of that and have some flexibility.

Nina Radetich: What is the biggest benefit of having an organization that is strong in leaders, not managers?

Brad Mishlove: You can deal with change at a much higher rate. The world, in my opinion, and [inaudible 00:14:05] most folks would share this, is changing very, very rapidly. A management has check boxes and forms and very little wiggle room for change. Leaders, I think, can recognize change and adapt much more readily. I think that’s important.

Nina Radetich: Great insight, and we look forward to the next episode. Thanks, Brad. Brad Mishlove: Thank you.

Nina Radetich: If you are ready to catapult your business, the first step is to figure out how to optimize your opportunities. That’s why we offer a free gap analysis. Just go to catapultbusinessgrowth.com, and click on Business Gap Analysis to get started. We’ll review your results, then schedule a time to discuss them with you. On behalf of the team at Catapult Groups, thank you for joining us for the Catapult Business Growth Podcast. If you like what you hear, please leave us a review in iTunes. We’ll see you next time.