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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

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Ollie Coombes

Entrepreneur

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

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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