Managers play a crucial role in the proper functioning of an organization. Without their ability to delegate tasks, coordinate activities and put all the pieces of the puzzle together, everything would crumble apart. However, although their value is undeniable, it takes more than great managers to turn an average business into a successful company. What businesses really need in order to stand out from the competition and become relevant players in their industry is the touch of a great leader.
There are many similarities between managers and leaders. Both roles imply developing a wide range of skills with the main purpose of improving the organization. But there are also many aspects that differentiate these two categories. The main difference lies in the way managers and leaders approach their roles and how they achieve their goals. All leaders have management abilities, but not all managers have what it takes to serve as leaders. So, while supervisors and managers are a dime a dozen, finding a good leader feels more like looking for the diamond in the rough.
The good news is that leaders are mostly made, not born, so it’s very much possible to climb up the career ladder and transition from manager to leader. In fact, that’s the most logical step in your professional evolution if you feel like being just a manager no longer satisfies you. Obviously, the journey is not going to be without its challenges, but if you are committed to following this path, you’ll be able to grow into a true leader.
Define your values
Leaders are guided by strong values and principles in all their actions and decisions. It’s these beliefs that form your value system that ultimately define your leadership style and allow you to lead effectively. In order to define these values, you should look inwards first and analyze your thoughts, emotions and mental processes. Emotional intelligence, transparency, empathy, integrity, authenticity, respect and courage are all examples of values that most leaders uphold.
However, it’s not enough to know what your values are if you want them to have an impact on others. You should also let your team members know about the values and principles you promote, so they can follow in your footsteps. This means you need to lead by example and actively apply these values in your management.
Shift your perspective
Given the nature of their job, managers tend to be project-oriented. They are driven by targets and focus all their energy and attention on one activity or a series of tasks, making sure to see it through. While this ensures streamlined operations, it does limit their influence and perspective, and that can make them lose sight of the bigger picture.
Leaders, on the other hand, have their sight set on long-term goals and a broader vision. They don’t get stuck on routine tasks or a particular set of activities that need to be fulfilled in a certain timeframe. They’re more interested in the process and the value that stems from reaching an objective, guiding people along the way and helping them become the best version of themselves. Therefore, you need to find ways to motivate, support and empower your team rather than keep track of deadlines.
Find a mentor
It’s often said that it takes a leader to make a leader, so you should not ignore the importance of mentorship as you embark on this transformational journey. It’s one thing to read books and articles on leadership and quite another to interact directly with a leader who has the experience and knowledge you require to advance on this path. Getting advice and input from someone who has already completed the transition is probably the only shortcut you can take to becoming a leader.
However, talking to a professional that can guide and inspire others is not easily accessible to everyone. That’s why many companies resort to leadership training services like the ones provided by CMISpeakers.com in order to help their team members develop powerful leadership skills that can help them achieve their goals. If your company employs these kinds of services, make sure you take advantage of them to connect with the right people and draw inspiration from their teachings.
Use your power to inspire
Managers are in a position to influence people. In your role as a manager, you have used this power to delegate tasks and supervise your team members’ activities. Now, as you’re actively moving towards a leadership role, it’s time to take things one step further and take advantage of your authority to inspire people.
Managers tell employees what, how and when to do things, but leaders empower and motivate people to think freely and bring their contribution to the team effort. If you can get employees to listen to you and mimic your attitude, you’ve already on the right track.
Knowing yourself and learning about your strengths and weaknesses is a key step in going from manager to leader. However, it’s just as important to know those around you. True leaders care about the people they work with. They take the time to connect with their team members and get to know what they think and feel.
It takes a higher level of emotional intelligence and empathy to decipher people’s personalities and figure out what their needs and concerns are. You need to be a good listener and enhance your communication skills if you want others to open up to you and create a real connection that will allow you to build and nurture your team.
Practice what you preach
Last but not least, being a leader also means being humble and doing the work yourself. If you want to win people’s trust and loyalty and have them follow you, it’s important to serve as a model for all others and show them the way through active example. If your team members perceive you as one of them, you have greater chances of convincing those watching you to do the same.