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Can Managers Become Leaders?

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff

Follow these five steps and become a better leader today.

  • Managers and leaders are not automatically one and the same, but managers have the ability to become good leaders.
  • Communicating well and celebrating team differences are among the ways to embrace your natural leadership skills.
  • Leaders have several positive traits, such as resilience, integrity and self-control.

We answer the age-old question of whether managers can become leaders. While there are a few key differences between managers and leaders, they may not be as disparate as you think.

Leaders and managers are not the same

It is often believed that managers are not leaders, and leaders are not managers. Although managers are responsible for planning, coordinating, and organizing tasks and activities within an organization, their role certainly demands leadership skills.

Leading and managing are two different roles that require different orientations and skills. Very few people are innately good at both. However, it does not necessarily mean that managers cannot become leaders. Leadership demands a few soft skills, which when inculcated, empowers managers.

What can managers do to become leaders?

"Natural managers" can start taking the following actions to transform themselves into better leaders.

Stop micromanaging.

Managing people is good, but micromanaging people is bad. Managers should provide more autonomy to employees. They should trust their team members and create more room for creative thinking and active participation in the organization.

Providing autonomy gives employees the freedom to think freely and bring better ideas to the table. Such ideas can be used toward increasing productivity and efficiency of the organization. Therefore, managers should motivate employees to contribute more toward organizational growth.

Become good communicators.

Leaders are excellent communicators. They ensure that the right message reaches the right person in the right way. To become good leaders, managers need to develop the art of communication. They make time to speak, but in a way that the message has an impact on the listener.

Merely doing the talking will not help. Managers also have to listen to others in order to become a good leader. Leadership is not a one-person show. Therefore, managers should take everyone's perspective into consideration while making major transformational business decisions.

Provide timely feedback

A leader provides constructive feedback to subordinates so they perform better. Annual reviews are good and necessary, but employees need regular feedback for both personal and organizational growth. Feedback helps employees understand what worked and what did not.

Managers should take the time to provide feedback at regular intervals so employees are not disappointed at the end of the year when their performance is reviewed. Ongoing feedback closes loopholes in processes, and improves the overall performance of people and the company.

Celebrate diversity.

An organization does not comprise people from only one particular race, sex or background. It is a group of diverse people coming together to achieve a common goal or mission. As such, it is necessary for managers to welcome people irrespective of societal and cultural factors.

Diversity pools various resources and skills for achieving organizational goals. A manager should celebrate diversity in order to become a good leader.

Make self-reflection a routine.

Last but not least, managers should take the time to reflect on their own actions and decisions. A leader is always conscious of their actions and has clarity of thought. Instead of dwelling on the past, they look ahead and think positive.

Managers should be aware of mistakes committed in the past so they don't repeat them again. Inculcating the habit of self-reflection enables managers to transform and become better leaders.

Traits that make a good leader

The most common trait of a leader is adaptability. Leaders are able to stay resilient in difficult situations and see their teams through. If a curveball is thrown at them, the leader knows how to enact changes to get through the situation.

Confidence is another strong quality of a leader. Pretending to be confident won't make an effective leader. You must have the capacity to make definitive decisions and remain assertive in tough situations.

Having an inspiring personality is another trait of an effective leader. If you're not inspiring anyone, who exactly are you leading? Leaders will have an encouraging word when someone needs it and will provide constructive feedback.

Being able to handle your emotions well is another characteristic of a good leader. Leaders are not known for their quick tempers. Instead, they're valued for remaining calm and composed in high-pressure situations with the capacity to communicate with others in a proactive manner.

Finally, honesty is one of the most prized traits of a strong leader. Colleagues and managers value a leader who demonstrates integrity on a regular basis.

Image Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff
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