Managers as Leaders

February 9, 2023

According to SHRM, “research indicates that both HR professionals and executives view leadership development as a major human capital challenge now and in the foreseeable future.”

First, organizations must understand the difference between a manager and a leader.

The terms manager and leader are often used interchangeably, however, they are two very different roles. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to prepare employees for a leadership track, instead throwing them into management roles and wondering why they aren’t serving as a better leader.

Harvard Business School breaks down the difference in management and leadership in three ways:

  • Process vs Vision
    • Effective leadership is centered on a vision to guide change. Whereas managers set out to achieve organizational goals through implementing processes, such as budgeting, organizational structuring, and staffing, leaders are more intent on thinking ahead and capitalizing on opportunities.
  • Organizing vs Aligning
    • Managers pursue goals through coordinated actions and tactical processes, or tasks and activities that unfold over stages to reach a certain outcome. Leaders, on the other hand, are less focused on how to organize people to get work done and more on finding ways to align and influence them.
  • Position vs Quality
    • Manager is a title. It’s a role and set of responsibilities. Leadership is a quality that needs to be shaped. Through developing emotional intelligence and learning how to influence others, professionals of all levels can build greater self-awareness and understand how to bring out the best in themselves and others.

Before creating a leadership development strategy, organizations must consider its goals, and understand skill gaps and barriers to success.

Indeed shares, “Identifying leadership potential in employees and helping them develop their leadership skills offers multiple important benefits to organizations. This helps ensure your organization has the future leaders it needs to be successful. Nurturing leadership potential may also improve how employees interact with clients and motivate employees to pursue new responsibilities in the workplace.”

Good managers aren’t always good leaders and vice versa.

Developing leaders can include the following:

  • Assessment of skills and qualities – what kind of leader might they be?
  • Coaching and mentorship – who would be a good fit to help guide someone as a leader and provide the appropriate feedback and direction needed to successfully grow as a leader?
  • Work experience and stretch assignments – effective leadership requires experience that must be learned by doing – give rising leaders the opportunity to demonstrate new skills and all they are learning from their coach or mentor
  • Encouragement – sometimes potential leaders can be hiding in plain sight; create a culture that encourages employees to proactively demonstrate leadership and provides a space for people to feel comfortable speaking up or requesting new opportunities

Developing a pipeline of leaders is good for business. Engaged employees who take pride in their roles and encourage others to grow and contribute build morale and foster a culture that values excellence and personal growth.

If you don’t have a leadership development program, create one that identifies and nurtures potential leaders at every level and across all departments.

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