From Manager To Leader: Making The Leap

Making the jump between managing and leading takes vision, courage and the ability to let go of what works to find what works better.

Where are we going? Who’s in charge? How are things going to be better tomorrow than they are today? These are the questions that will be on the minds of those around you when you’re managing instead of leading.

I say “on the minds” specifically because you probably won’t be aware that this is what your team or peers are thinking. From the where you sit, in your own mind, you may believe you are being a good leader because everyone is following you. But leading isn’t about having people follow, it’s about motivating and inspiring in others such a compulsion to follow that it’s all they want to do. When these questions are being asked, leadership status cannot be attained.

There are many examples of  failed businesses that were being managed and not led (Blockbuster, Blackberry, Circuit City, Nokia, etc).  If you search through the achieves and read any of the public statements made by these CEOs during their decline, the common thread is a lack of leadership. There was a lot of “We’re going to continue to deliver…”, but very little in the way of “why” the business was going to turn around or how specific issues that were causing the decline were going to be overcome.  During this time, I guarantee that employees were having closed door discussions and spending lunch hours grumbling about the issues and missed opportunities and wondering why nothing was happening.

So why did managers running these long-standing organizations fail to lead, inspire through vision, achieve the needed changes, and turn their ships around? Why did they fail to visualize and act before things got so far gone? Because to change means to admit you’re doing things wrong, which is usually the only nail needed for the coffin if not done quickly. But that’s just the first step. To initiate and create permanent change means to let go of stability, create a new vision that is strategically sound, and communicate that vision in a way that inspires a cultural sense of urgency.

As the person in charge, you need to be the one who sees clearly and separate what works from what doesn’t. That’s managing. But if you wish to lead, you need to find (and encourage others to find) new, innovative ideas and ways of improving your team, department and overall business.

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About Brendan Witcher
Honest and practical career/business advice for dedicated individuals pursuing sustainable growth towards becoming successful entrepreneurs or business leaders.

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