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

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.

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

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

More About Boosting Productivity

Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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