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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

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Published on September 18, 2018

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

1. Show your appreciation

In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

2. Communicate effectively

Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

3. Be open to dialogue

Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

4. Provide constructive criticism

Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

5. Conduct one-on-ones

Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

6. Build training programs

In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

7. Offer growth opportunities

Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

8. Reward them

Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

9. Encourage team outings

Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

10. Involve them

Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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11. Set meaningful goals

In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

12. Empower them

You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

13. Deal with conflict

A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

14. Implement a flexible work culture

Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

15. Host engaging activities

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

16. Maintain a positive work space

Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

17. Avoid discrimination

Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

The bottom line

Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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