You remember the commercial, "Tastes great, less filling?" The one about the beer that tasted great and didn't fill you up; combining two fine qualities into one beer. You also need to demonstrate multiple abilities. Whether you are just getting started or have been in business for decades, to be successful in today's flooring industry, a combination of both leadership and management skills is required. That sounds easy, but there is one problem; leadership and management are two separate skills.

To understand the difference, we first need to define them. Leadership is about change for better results; it challenges the status quo and looks at the long term.

Management is about consistency for better results; it maintains the status quo, focusing on short-term results. Leadership and management seem to contradict each other.

Usually, when we think of leaders, we consider larger-than-life historical figures and we don't include ourselves. Give yourself some credit. You can lead too.

Take a look at the things leaders do. Ultimately, these things revolve around "soft skills." These intangibles do not come naturally to many people in the construction industry. The critical few things that leaders do are set priorities, align people, and motivate and inspire them. These are skills that can be learned and taught.

Management, on the other hand, is about "hard skills." Management focuses on the business of the business; it involves planning and budgeting, organizing and staffing, and controlling and measuring. There are far more managers in construction than leaders. Even though these skills are essential to the success of any business, they are not instinctive either.

Rather than being mutually exclusive, these two skills are, in fact, interdependent. The flooring contractor of the future must respond to the new reality. The competitive environment has changed. Just because you were good with your tools once doesn't mean you will be successful in business. Owners/GCs are more demanding, there is no labor waiting on the bench, and margins are thin. However, the person who can blend the seemingly contradictory skills of management and leadership is poised to bring their company into a more competitive and profitable position.