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How to Change from a Manager to a Leader in 5 Steps

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How to Change from a Manager to a Leader in 5 Steps

Being a manager may earn you a salary. You may work in a large corporation as a manager, or you may simply be stuck in a managerial position in your business. Either way, you’re going to get some steady returns. But the truth is, managers maintain – they don’t create growth.

Being a leader will fulfil your vision. In essence, a manager is a person who controls and administrates a group of people, whereas a leader literally leads a group towards his or her vision. By definition, leading is ‘a route of means of access to a particular place or in a particular direction.’ – They inspire and motivate their followers or team to share and fulfil their vision.

So, which is it: controlling, or leading? I’m sure the more ambitious of you would choose  to lead. If you have a dream you wish to achieve, here’s 5 steps on how to change from a manager to a leader to make it happen:

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  1. Have a vision

Managers control a team within the confines of short term goals. They are given a quota to follow and focus on what can be done in a certain space of time. It’s a very controlled environment. Leaders, on the other hand, have a long-term vision, and they boost the morale and productivity of their team by inspiring them with their vision.

They venture into the unknown and stay one step ahead to continue to make progress. If you want to start a business, or already have one but lack direction, make sure you create a vision in your mind of what your end goal is. Do you want to impact your local community, or do you want to change the world? Do you want to build a 6-figure business or a billion dollar business?

Whatever it is, make sure your goal is big enough and meaningful enough to you that it will drive you forward throughout the process. Once you have the vision, it will be far easier to guide a group of people in achieving it.

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  1. Outsource and automate right away

If you’re leading a project, you don’t have time to waste doing the menial work like administration. That’s what managers do. Stay up to date with the workings of your business, but ensure it maintains itself through automation and employees. A lot of admin work can be done efficiently online nowadays – you can hire virtual assistants or use automation software to do the time consuming low leverage work.

I’d recommend hiring an admin assistant of some sort to track finances, journal progress and write reports. Any task that is maintaining the business but not growing it should never be done by the leader.

  1. Build a team of like-minded and skilled individuals

Once you’ve outsourced the basic stuff, it’s time to supplement your knowledge and skills through other people. Leaders are interdependent; they know that a team can achieve far more than an individual. They’re also self-aware; they know their weaknesses so they hire people to supplement this.

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My advice is to find people who are motivated by the same things as you. Say your business is a marketing agency: You’ve got to find people who are passionate about online growth or you’ve lost at the first hurdle. If your team share your vision, they will be self-motivated to work hard and get good results because they want to fulfil the vision as much as you do.

  1. Communication

Secondary to being the driving force, the leader’s job is to motivate his or her team, and to inspire a team to work on their own initiative. Firstly, you should have a mission statement and a list of core values that everyone understands, believes in and follows. It’s gotta be simple and self-explanatory – something that every team member believes in: Uber’s mission statement is ‘Transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere, for everyone.’

Your core values are what you stand for. For example, one of the marketing agency’s values could be to ‘prioritise providing value to the consumer over generating leads.’ Whatever they are, your whole team should believe in them. If they do, they will follow them and every action they take will work towards the vision and not against it like employees under an authoritarian manager may do.

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Remember that as a leader, you are interdependent. Your team is equal to you in how hard they work and what they believe in. The only different is that you are the innovator. They follow, but they should work on their own initiative and not simply work on a transactional basis – managers tell their employees what to do, the employee does it, and they repeat this process for every task. The point of hiring skilled and like-minded people is that they don’t need to be babysat. A strong team work together on a vision but are also independent in their skills and ideas.

  1. Challenge the status quo, make the calls, innovate!

As mentioned above, the only difference between you and your team is that you are the driving force. As a leader, you’ll eventually get to the point where you have managers below you. They follow your vision and your values – because managers follow the status quo.

But as the leader, you’ve got to be curious and challenge convention in order to innovate and ultimately grow. Never settle for what you may think is already true – be open to new ideas and take risks that could potentially work out better than what you’re currently doing. Innovation is about trying new methods and using your imagination. So never stop innovating, because if you do, you stop growing.

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Managing and leading go hand in hand, but I hope you can see now that there are some fundamental changes that need to be acted upon if you wish to lead a team rather than manage one. It starts with taking yourself out of the operational side of your business. A leader is a driving force, so to be one, you must constantly push forward and make sure you create a team environment that will move forward with you.

Featured photo credit: Martin Barraud via fthmb.tqn.com

More by this author

Ollie Coombes

Entrepreneur

How to Change from a Manager to a Leader in 5 Steps
How to Change from a Manager to a Leader in 5 Steps

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