The path from manager to leader
Monday, June 19, 2017
Whether it is because of a promotion, new job or a comment on a performance review, becoming a good leader is challenging. To make it easier, take note of these three shifts that occur on the path from manager to leader.
Reactive to composed
A great manager can take multiple inputs from all over the organization, align them with the goals she is responsible for accomplishing, and execute accordingly. Leaving this type of manager position to take a leadership position requires recognizing the flow of work through the organization and her new ability to affect it.
As a manager, she was in the middle of the flow, reacting to what showed up and adjusting to ensure her team responded. As a leader, she will have an earlier and more significant impact on workflow and thus a greater sphere of influence.
With this increase in influence also comes a decrease in room for error. Because of that, she will have to shift her mindset from reacting to information to managing communications.
Near- to farsighted
Another shift is like the shift many of us have with our eyesight as we age: It becomes easier to see the big picture and a lot more difficult to look at the details in front of us.
Managers must understand and handle immediate and short-term information to be successful. Leaders, on the other hand, must maintain a wider view. While the details play a role in the bigger picture, managers transitioning to leadership roles must find a way to shift their perspective away from details.
Instead of being the one to listen to complaints and solve an issue, the new leader must stay out of daily operations and encourage her managers to solve problems. She must learn how to differentiate between trends and incidents, and shift her mindset from short-term problem-solving to long-term impact creation.
Response to purpose
With every action, call, meeting or decision, leaders are clear on their purpose. They know what they are working toward and why. Leaders are clear on their own priorities, and the priorities of the business and their schedule and communication reflect those priorities.
While managers may not have complete control over their day, leaders must create and maintain a schedule that supports their individual work styles. New leaders must shift from days full of responding to a schedule that is carefully curated to reflect necessary priorities.
Leaving behind the habits that make a good manager to embrace new habits that make a good leader is difficult. It requires the ability to move through the day composed, informed and aware. That requires practice and preparation.
The bottom line is that making the transition from a manager to a leader may be a challenge, but understanding the shifts that happen along the path will make it a little easier to accomplish.
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