Can Managers Become Leaders?

Business.com / Managing / Last Modified: August 21, 2017
Photo credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

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 at some point in their careers.

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. As a part of the same team, 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. In order 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 that 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 helps in pooling various resources and skills for achieving organizational goals. A manager should celebrate diversity in order to become a good leader. He or she shouldn't discriminate on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, race or any characteristic.

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.

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