What is the difference between a manager and a leader? Managers are concerned with building a sustainable foundation for strong performance and achieving goals and measurable outcomes. On the other hand, leaders anticipate the future and develop plans to leverage that future for a competitive advantage to the organization.
Managers learn from the past and apply to the present. Managers track performance, analyze gaps between what is actually happening and what should be happening, and ensure processes support efficiency, effectiveness, and customer satisfaction. Managers are also concerned with compliance to regulations and company rules. Lastly, managers care about sustaining good results. These critical behaviors ensure that customers and shareholders get what they expect on a consistent basis. If this is what you do, managing is a very important job! It is the foundation for an organization’s success.
Leaders are concerned with growing the future. Leaders visualize the future and articulate it to others in the form of a vision statement. They anticipate trends in the market, and set clear direction so followers know what to do and how to set priorities. And leaders open new possibilities for the organization and inspire the commitment of people toward a shared vision of the future and executing the vision and the plan. Lastly, leaders trigger innovation through the inspiring vision and what might be possible.
Can you be both a manager and a leader? I believe everyone should be both, since you prove your credibility through delivering consistent results using demonstrated management skills. Leaders are critical to growth and can rise to great heights in an organization.
How can we progress from managing to leading? Here are 5 ways to get there:
1. Cultivate an outside-in perspective of your organization. So many aspiring leaders are unable to distinguish between managing and leading. Leadership starts with thinking as if you were one of the key stakeholders of the organization – customers, regulators, and suppliers. Shift your perspective, and this will give you access to information about your market, the developing trends, and spark insights that can lead to growth.
2. Practice inclusive and open-minded thinking. Managing encourages you to focus on analytics and details, while leading requires you to reach for new and different perspectives with an open mind. Ask others who think differently than you for their points of view and listen for what might be possible for growth and improvement.
3. Develop your strategic thinking skills. Research on leadership puts the ability to think strategically the number 1 skill of effective leaders. This requires taking a long-range, broad approach to problem solving and decision making through objective analysis, thinking ahead, and planning.
4. Use your imagination to visualize what is possible for your organization. It could be a new process that will elevate outcomes to a new level, a new idea for business’ growth, or a new service that will attract and delight customers.
5. Develop your executive presence. What does this mean? It is an inside-out, authentic projection of three things: your expertise or “gravitas”; your depth of professional knowledge and competence that contributes to excellence in performance. This is the basis for raising credibility so others will listen. Gravitas must be balanced by “grit”, which is your uncompromising commitment to performance excellence and strategic focus. The third element of presence is “grace”; your command of relationship intelligence and inspiring communication, and their critical role in raising performance. It takes the three “Gs” in balance to have a strong presence.
Take these 5 steps to becoming a leader, and you are guaranteed to be considered one of the high potential people for key leadership roles!