Manager or team leader- what you are?

I’m sharing this issue because I had come across this question during one of my interviews with a mid Size company in Bangalore. I Left my previous company few months back due to some personal reasons and I was desperately looking for job after spending almost 3 months in search of a good job with MNC’s , I did not got any chance and started feeling my LUCK is not supporting me.

Then I started to look for opportunities with smaller / start-up companies also. This really started giving some good interviews, but the next issue started arising….the PAY package. These small companies couldn’t afford to pay hefty salaries and are reluctant in hiring someone, with a fear in mind, if market goes up or they come across better opportunity with a good salary they will move out…companies do not want to be in this type of situation and suffer big loss and time.

While my job search was going on, I came across with an opportunity for position of Team Leader with a start-up company. During the interview I was briefing about my past experience and job roles. As I started saying I was working as manger with a USA based Software Company; I was interrupted and gentleman said…Look we are not looking for manager; we don’t have any managers in our office, If you are here for managerial job, sorry we do not have. I was curious to know why?

He explained me with basic definition of Manager– “A Manager is the person responsible for planning and directing the work of a group of individuals, monitoring their work, and taking corrective action when necessary.”  And a leader is – “someone who goes first, initiates and coaches others to perform the task.”

After detailing  the definitions he said,” we don’t have that huge amount of work or work force; who needs to managed or monitored” we want someone who can be a  Team leader , should be capable to  perform his own task , help and coach teams in performing the task and create positive energy in the team.

I was convinced by his thoughts and agreed for the position of Team Leader. I returned back home, but that thought was still in mind and I started thinking and associating about the same Leadership role I performed 4 years back when I had joined Solutions for Infragistics project.

Infragistics was a new project for Solutions and task was to do the marketing, branding and business development for their products and services. I had a very small team; me and Vinayak and my boss Vineet.

We started the program at slow pace, as the product and company was new to Indian market and above all it was a 3rd party controls Toolset Company and had a very niche market. It was a hit and trial activity I did and managed to get the pulse of customer, understood customers needs and their pain points and accordingly we directed our pitch and communication, directly pressing to their needs.

In 2 months of time I was able to get hold on the customer’s needs and wants and our work process was in the right way, I started delegating the task to Vinayak, used to monitor is talks, his email communications and suggest him to do the correction wherever it was required and in few months he was on his own. We did remarkable business for complete 3 years at Solutions for Infragistics, Then on one fine day we got news; seeing our efforts and business; Infragistics decided to open their own office in India and we were going to be the part of core team.

This all justifies that companies with smaller teams /workforce or startups should always hire a good team Leader than a manager.