Just because you have a fancy job title doesn’t automatically mean you’re a great leader. Few career transitions are more challenging than making a move from manager to leader. But successfully making that shift is essential if you are planning to climb the corporate ladder.
So, what’s the real difference between a manager and a leader? Effective managers are project-focused and might be described as organized and detail-oriented. On the other hand, dynamic leaders are visionaries who inspire teams to go above and beyond. A leader adapts their management style to the individual and can get the most out of each team member.
Ultimately, the skills that got you where you are may not be the ones you need to get to the next level. Moving from manager to leader is a process that involves training and focus. Here are five strategies that will help you make a smooth transition.
A real leader inspires
Great leaders don’t just tell people what to do. They are masters at motivating their direct reports. Going from manager to leader means you are tapping into your own sense of purpose and can articulate that to your team. If employees are truly inspired by and proud of the values communicated by their leaders, they will not only perform better in good times but also stick it out when times are tough. In other words, inspirational leaders result in motivated employees, and motivated employees are loyal employees.
A real leader creates a shared vision
In addition to defining the tone for the company culture, effective leaders must learn how to communicate big ideas to everyone in the company, not just management. Transitioning from manager to leader means understanding how to craft transparent and consistent messaging that inspires the best work from your employees. Leaders create and drive the overall company vision so effectively that it becomes a shared vision.
A real leader is emotionally intelligent
While traditional management skills are essential, a greater degree of emotional intelligence is necessary to nurture and motivate teams. Emotionally intelligent people understand their own emotions and how they affect their decisions and behaviors. They know how to read others and respond in a way that acknowledges their needs and concerns. People with high emotional intelligence, or EQ, are great listeners and go out of their way to consider others’ points of view. In addition, a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology concluded that there is a strong correlation between EQ and job performance. Often, EQ is the difference between those who move up within an organization and those who don’t.
A real leader is transparent
As a leader, it’s important to set the foundation for transparent communication. In a survey from Harvard Business School, 70% of employees said they are most engaged when management communicates openly. Being open and honest is essential to create trust with your employees. This practice will, in turn, make your team comfortable opening up to you.
A real leader delegates
Even if it were possible to stay completely involved in all aspects of the job, it severely limits how your team can grow. It is crucial to develop a group of talented people around you that you can rely on to scale your operations more effectively. Allowing your employees to take on new projects will free up time on your calendar to focus on more critical high-level tasks. It also helps foster opportunities for your direct reports to build new skills. A Gallup study even found that companies with more talented individuals who can delegate have greater growth rates, higher revenue, and create a greater number of jobs.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” Great leaders nurture the strengths and talents of their people and build teams committed to achieving common goals. While moving from manager to leader is an exciting transformation, it is not without its challenges. But when you succeed, the rewards for both you and the company are immeasurable.