How Managers Become Leaders

You’ve probably seen people get promoted into management level jobs only to watch them fail to build loyalty among the team members they lead. They now have a fancy title, but people only follow them because they have to do so, and they don’t want to. These individuals are managers but not leaders.

I wrote about this in my book designed to help people learn how to move from a manager to a true leader. In researching the subject, I realized that while there are natural-born leaders, most people need to learn a new set of skills if they will be successful.

Some people mistakenly don’t see the difference between these two titles. That can be because they either don’t understand the difference or want to change. That can be because managers aren’t always ready to abandon day-to-day oversight and move on to more “big-picture” leadership matters.

Leaders have less time to manage projects, and their job is to coach their team and develop people who will do the work. Put another way; leaders manage people who manage projects.

They spend less time answering questions. Leaders ask more questions who now can understand the nitty-gritty details of a project.

To further understand the difference between a manager and a leader, I recommend the work of Michael Watkins, the author of “The First 90 Days.” He shares the seven shifts a manager has to make when they are promoted if they want to be seen as a leader:

  1. Specialist to generalist.
  2. Analyst to integrator.
  3. Tactician to strategist.
  4. Bricklayer to architect.
  5. Problem solver to agenda-setter.
  6. Warrior to diplomat.
  7. Supporting cast member to lead role.

Transitioning from manager to leader doesn’t happen overnight. It is deliberate and requires study and experience. But doing this will help you develop your career and be of greater assistance to your team members and your company.

How to navigate this transition is the subject of my book, “Be A Manager Not A Leader.” Its focus is on how you have to evolve, lead successful teams, and contemporary issues that leaders face. Order your copy here.

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