When considering leaving a job, people often seek advancement or new challenges. Sometimes, though, they leave due to a clash in values or issues with their manager. Employees usually have clear memories of their best managers, describing them as visionary, motivating, good listeners, or true leaders. These qualities are important because leaders help individuals reach their potential. There are a few key things you should know if you want to be a leader in your career, and not just simply a manager.
Short Term vs Long Term Goals
Managers and leaders have distinct approaches. Managers focus on short-term goals and immediate tasks, paying close attention to systems, structures, and details. They prioritize processes and procedures, ensuring everything is done correctly.
In contrast, leaders concentrate on long-term visions and see short-term achievements as steps towards these larger goals. They value people over processes and invest time in understanding and developing their team’s strengths. Leaders are known for fostering growth, listening actively, and recognizing achievements.
Place Value On People Over Systems & Structures
Managers prioritize systems and structures over individuals. Their approach revolves around developing and upholding organizational systems, characterized by thorough checklists, defined processes, procedures, and detailed flowcharts. Their primary concern is ensuring that every aspect functions correctly.
In contrast, leaders place a higher value on people rather than just processes. They understand the importance of investing time to uncover and harness the strengths of their team members. Effective leaders are recognized for their active listening skills, promoting constructive feedback, motivating their team to develop and learn, and acknowledging their achievements.
Prioritize Accountability Over Micromanagement
Managers often micromanage, enforcing strict deadlines and focusing on mistakes, which can make employees feel constantly scrutinized and under pressure. Leaders, however, set examples and hold themselves and their teams accountable, allowing space for autonomy and reasonable expectations.
While managers direct and instruct, often making decisions alone, leaders engage their teams in decision-making, valuing their ideas and contributions. This involvement fosters interest and investment in projects.
Maintaining or Challenging The Status Quo
Managers typically maintain the status quo, preferring predictability and stability, and are reactive to changes. Leaders challenge the norm, anticipate changes, and are proactive, inspiring trust in their teams.
Most people prefer working with leaders. This preference doesn’t diminish the importance of short-term goals, systems, or direction but highlights the impact of leadership that enables individuals to fully utilize their strengths and contribute meaningfully to a shared vision. It’s about making a difference and feeling part of something significant.
Ultimately, the choice is whether to focus on managing tasks or leading people towards a shared vision.