How Managers Become Leaders

Only 1 in 10 managers actually have the talent to manage. But lacing on leadership shoes is like discovering you’re lactose intolerant after devouring a container of ice cream.

Leaders manage and managers lead. The line between manager and leader is often fuzzy.

The closer you stand to the frontline, the more the needle shifts toward manager. But the needle always shifts toward leader when you move up.

Moving from management to leadership requires letting go of activities that earned you a promotion in the first place.

John Kotter explains the difference between manager and leader here.

Leaders who struggle after being promoted manage too much and lead too little.

The more and less of becoming a leader:

Manage projects – less.

Develop people – more.

You’re great at managing projects. Now you manage people who manage projects.

When you don’t make the transition well, you disempower your team with meddling.

Both managers and leaders develop people, but successful leaders spend more time developing people. I heard Jack Welch say he spent at least half his time as the CEO of GE developing people.

Leadership challenges become opportunities when you enable talented people.

Solve problems – less.

Help others solve problems – more.

Leaders create environments where people solve problems, instead of solving them themselves.

Give answers – less.

Ask questions – more.

You aren’t the expert anymore. You have a team full of experts.

A leader who knows too much is a pain in the butt. If your boss did your job before she was promoted, I pity you.

7 Shifts:

Michael Watkins, author of, “The First 90 Days,” describes 7 seismic shifts managers face after they’re promoted. (HBR)

  1. Specialist to generalist.
  2. Analyst to integrator.
  3. Tactician to strategist.
  4. Bricklayer to architect.
  5. Problem solver to agenda setter.
  6. Warrior to diplomat.
  7. Supporting cast member to lead role.

How do managers become leaders?