Are You Managing Your Team or Leading It?

calendar July 10, 2018

The kind of talent you want in your company isn’t interested in being managed to death. What they really want is to be led.

So, which one are you? A manager or a leader? And what’s the difference?

It’s not about the title

Being in the C-suite doesn’t make you a leader. And being in a management role doesn’t mean you can’t effectively lead.

Here’s the primary difference between the two:

Managers focus on making sure tasks get checked off and that minimum standards are met.

Leaders focus on developing people and positions to ensure they achieve their full potential.

It’s not always their fault

Keep in mind that managers are often put in place with no real knowledge of how to lead, and sometimes with no expectations of actually being a leader. When this happens, these managers will naturally default to their experience of being managed themselves, and treat their staff accordingly.

But that doesn’t mean things have to continue that way. If you’re looking to ditch your focus on managing and cultivate a culture of leadership, it can be done.

To turn your managers into leaders, the first step is to recognize the behaviors that identify each group.

What managers do:

  • Focus on the short term: what needs to get done this week, today, or this very second
  • Point fingers. Not only to direct people, but also to assign blame when things go wrong
  • View employees as units of production rather than people with feelings and ideas
  • Value time spent in the office and obedience over flexibility and results
  • Lead with fear and attempt to use it as motivation for the team
  • Stick to a plan at all costs, even when it’s clearly not working
  • Say things like “But we’ve always done it that way!” and “Why re-invent the wheel?”
  • Refuse to delegate or let go of certain things due to lack of trust
  • Hover nearby because they are afraid things won’t get done otherwise
  • Spend a whole lot of time talking and very little time listening

What leaders do:

  • Create a vision for the organization and communicate how each team member fits in
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm for company goals and values and generate it in others
  • Take responsibility and communicate openly, during good times and bad
  • Listen to concerns, ideas and feedback and provide these things as needed
  • Inspire confidence in leadership and build trust in employees and staff at all levels
  • Inspire action rather than creating bureaucratic inaction
  • Give team members the freedom they need to take ownership and thrive
  • Coach people through challenges and help them find new levels of success
  • Let teams create solutions instead of handing them a “corporate approved” fix
  • Allow themselves, and those around them, the luxury of failing from time to time as they challenge themselves to reach new heights

Once you’ve determined the qualities that make a good leader, you can start reshaping and retraining your team based on those values and behaviors.

How to go about it

Make sure you get buy-in from current leaders on your definition of leadership and the vision and values that will drive your new model. Then, clearly communicate these shared values to the entire staff and team.

Other ways you can build internal leaders include:

  • Investing in leadership coaching or training.
  • Identifying your strong leaders and asking them to mentor others.
  • Hiring for cultural fit, seeking out people who are in alignment with your leadership beliefs and style
  • Being a role model and leading by example

In order to move your organization forward, you need clear direction. Cultivating a team of strong leaders will help you attract top talent that wants to go places, and help your business reach its goals.