How to make the transition from manager to leader

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Managers and leaders are often viewed as one and the same, and it’s true: leaders often make excellent managers, and many managers are also great leaders. However, leadership doesn’t always come naturally for all managers—but it is a skill that can be learned. 

If you want to make the move from manager to leader, know that it is entirely possible. Here we discuss exactly what it is that separates a manager from a leader and provide some valuable tips to help you make the transition.

Manager vs leader: what is the difference?

The key point of distinction between managers and leaders is that managers are largely task-oriented, while leaders are predominantly people-focused. A manager is primarily concerned with planning, administering, coordinating, and implementing; whereas a leader is more concerned with inspiring and motivating everyone to work toward a common goal and deliver their best performance.
transitiontoleader | Teamrecruit
Both roles can be equally as effective at achieving goals and outcomes; however, the way they are achieved can be vastly different. While a manager gives directions, a leader asks questions. A manager tells you what to do, but a leader shows you how to do it. A manager has subordinates, a leader creates followers. A manager exercises authority, while a leader motivates others.
Ultimately, a leader will place greater importance on the ‘big picture’ and shaping the culture of a workplace, as opposed to the more tactical activities that a manager would typically focus on.

The true value of quality leadership

Quality leadership can drive numerous benefits for a business, as leaders often do a great job igniting passion and enthusiasm among employees. They generate greater buy-in and ownership, they foster a team mentality, and they help the business to become better equipped to navigate change. They encourage workers to give their best performance and support the team to reach its full potential.
Not only does this all sound wonderful, but it’s also likely to help a business’s bottom line by ultimately driving greater employee satisfaction and in turn, improving staff retention

Tips to help you make the transition from manager to leader

Leaders aren’t always born that way. As we mentioned earlier, leadership can be learnt. If you want to know how to make the transition to leader, here are some simple strategies you can put into action to help you get there:
  • Get to know yourself better – Do some self-reflection to better understand your personality, your personal management style, and your individual strengths and weaknesses. It may even be helpful to complete a personality assessment to better understand your behavioural style.
  • Decide what type of leader you want to be – Just as there are different management styles, there are also different leadership styles. Do you want to be a coach? A visionary? Laissez-faire? Or maybe a transformational leader? Decide how you want to lead, then find ways to put it into practice.
  • Harness your strengths – Identify what you do well, then look for ways to adapt those skills to suit your desired leadership style.
  • Place your focus on people – Take a step back from the ‘how’ and ‘when’, and instead focus on the individual skills and personality traits of team members. Look for ways to inspire and empower them to take greater ownership of their role and perform optimally.
  • Listen and learn – Seek out feedback from peers and colleagues to better understand their views, opinions, and ideas. Take their feedback on board and allow it to guide you.
  • Seek out support – Speak to your own manager or consult the HR department (if your dealership has one) to see if they can offer any specialised coaching, training or mentorship opportunities.
  • Take a gradual approach – Managers don’t become leaders overnight. Take it one step at a time, continually looking for ways to approach things differently.
With some practice, assuming a leadership rather than managerial role should become second nature and you, your team, and the wider business will be able to enjoy the rewards.
Teamrecruit is Australia’s most established recruitment agency specialising in truck, earthmoving and agricultural machinery dealerships in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Find out more about Teamrecruit and how we support employers and candidates in the dealership industry.

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