How to Transition from Manager to Leader


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Friday, February 24, 2017

At some stage in a manager's career their leadership skills will come into focus.

Article 4 Minutes
How to Transition from Manager to Leader

It often takes adjusting your mindset to meet these challenges, and go from simply managing employees to becomes a true leader. Work relationships will change, your persona will adapt and the development of an effective action plan will be the key to success.

Step 1 - Devise a plan

Understand what you want to get from your team members and figure out how, why and when you are going to achieve your set goals and targets. Decide what kind of leader you’ll be; transparent and honest now works best for most companies. According to Forbes, “Employees want to be a part of a workplace culture that puts a premium on delivering the truth.  They desire their leaders to be proactive in sharing where the company is headed and forthright about its future.”

You will also need to understand how to handle the workload; people management becomes the main focus. It will take time for a team to adjust to new management; they will need nurturing as individuals and as a group. It’s a good time to learn from previous leaders’ mistakes; so new strategies can be adopted to help improve management techniques.

Step 2 -  Find out what motivates your team

Remember what made you happy as an employee. Being able to relate to employees within the company will help you to gain their respect. Speak to the team individually, find out any issues they may have with the running of the department alongside any positives. Make sure all the team know what everyone's responsibilities are, and avoid micro-managing. “Micro-managers are bad news for business and bad news for employees. They dis-empower staff, stifle opportunity and innovation, and give rise to poor performance,” says Leadership Thoughts. Micro-managers are not good leaders, they are uncommitted, do not put enough trust in their employees and avoid delegation.

Step 3 - Delegation

Learn how to delegate, rather than trying to complete tasks yourself. Know your workforce, so that you know which work to give to who, so you can concentrate on other workload priorities. Delegation also places trust on the employees; they will feel useful and better respected. Share the workload so that not all responsibility lies with one person and ensure that all employees know they are working together for a common goal.

According to Forbes, “Leaders often have the desire to not give up control. Alternatively, they may believe that a good leader will roll up their sleeves and get down in the trenches with their direct reports.” There is a time and place for the latter, hands-on approach. However, the majority of the time a leader will need to lead and should do so by allowing employees to get on with their work whilst overseeing operations.

Step 4 -  Networking

Don’t just get your head down and work monotonously, proving you can get the work done. Broaden your network, get advice from others in similar positions and increase knowledge through networking. Useful industry connections can be made and communication with previous managers would be beneficial so you can be advised on leading techniques and to learn from their mistakes. Plus, it’s an ideal way of gaining contacts who could be useful in the future.

Step 5 – Maintain professionalism

Remember, it’s not about being popular, it’s about getting results. Understand how to transition work friendships into working relationships. “Realize that your previous personal relationships with co-workers will need to be moved to a different level because you’re no longer a peer – you are now the person who assigns work, analyzes productivity and provides performance appraisals,” says Forbes.

Friendships within the workplace could lead to preference, and criticism from others who believe that they are getting prioritized or treated differently when they should be treated equally. To avoid such issues, ensure that there is no employee favoritism.

All of these factors should be considered when evolving from a manager into a leader. You will need a clear strategy from the outset, taking into account colleague motivation and delegation whilst maintaining professionalism. Combined with effective networking and successful planning, the transition from manager to leader should be a smooth and successful one.

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