How To Start Leading And Stop Managing

November 4, 2014 Updated: April 23, 2016

Directions are instructions given to explain how. Direction is a vision offered to explain why. – Simon Sinek

It’s one of Simon Sinek’s most recited quotes and it pinpoints the exact difference between management and leadership. A manager delivers and oversees a series of directions that need to be fulfilled. A leader, however, instructs and inspires those within his community to pursue his vision. But, have you ever asked yourself why you would even want to become a leader? Well, consider the last managers meeting you attended. It probably took several meetings (and months) just to make a decision to have the meeting and even once direction had been taken, it only brought up an even bigger problem of implementation. Without a leader around to influence behavior or overcome resistance making decisions is meaningless. So, the question remains, how do you know when you are leading and when you are managing?

Communicating With Your Team. Take Jack Dorsey, founder of Square and co-creator of Twitter, as an example of a leader. Annually, Dorsey not only reviews employees progress but also asks for employees to give him feedback on his ability to lead. This kind of communication, is a new model becoming increasingly popular over recent years. And, it has proven to be widely successful. Communication is key to the survival of any community and it’s just as true for offices. Make sure your staff feels comfortable discussing ideas with you and encourage them to challenge themselves.

The Strength To Be Vulnerable. There is a common misconception that as the boss you are not allowed to be weak. And though there is definitely some truth to this statement it actually takes great strength to show vulnerability. A true leader recognizes their inability to be great at everything and lets other’s strengths play a vital role in the organization. The trick, of course, is learning how to delegate. We’ve all experienced and heard of horror stories where associates or co-workers botched deals because of their carelessness. But as a leader, and not a manager, it is your prerogative that your employees know that you value their skills and that they feel responsible for certain aspects of the work being accomplished.  

A Solid Sense of Responsibility. As a manager it is your job to make sure that projects are finished and handed in on time. As a leader it’s your mission that every member of your community takes responsibility for projects and actions and that you help them implement that larger ideas into realistic everyday choices. If an employee doesn’t feel invested in a community then when times get tough or a disagreement ensues then they will simply walk away or reach inappropriately. If however, you are seen as a leader and influencer of your corporate community, then employees take it upon themselves to seek more responsibility as they want to be a part of the “tribe”. This is the whole difference between working for a paycheck and working for the grandeur vision. And the investment, on the part of your employees, makes all the difference.

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