The debate about the difference between a manager and leader has been settled. Without question, there is a difference in both definition and behavior.
Just to ensure we are on the same page, here are my favorite definitions of both in action form:
Management: The manipulation of others for your own success
Leadership: Serving and empowering the lives that have been entrusted to you
Unless you grew up in a place of worship or had really strong figures in your life that taught you about serving and empowering, you most likely default to management. Why? Because it's what's taught in high school, college and organizational leadership development programs. In many ways, our environment is teaching us to be managers, not leaders, but unfortunately, that's not an excuse. Here are six habits that can help change managers into leaders.
1. Find a Purpose Beyond Money
While there is no question that money is important in life, one of the best ways to make a leap towards being a leader is to find a true purpose in your work beyond money. If the only reason you go to work is for money, your people will know and you will never make the leap to serve.
If this is an area you struggle in, pick up Simon Sinek's new book Find Your Why when it comes out in September.
2. Decentralize Decision Making
Most people move into a position of management because they were good at their job. Typically their first actions are to solve all the worlds problems and be a major part in every decision facing the team. The problem is the people they are now leading are being treated as followers and have a sense of being in a subordinate position, thus creating more followers, not more leaders. As leadership expert David Marquet says, "followers have limited decision making authority and little incentive to give the utmost of their intellect, energy, and passion. Those who take orders usually run at half speed, underutilizing their imagination and initiative."
The key here is to not only be ok with your people making decisions make it a core part of their job.
3. Give and Serve Outside of Work
I don't mean to give financially, I mean give your time. Winston Churchill famously said "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."
Look for ways to volunteer in your community or start a support group. The point here is if you learn to give up your free time to serve those that you don't know, you most certainly will begin to serve and empower those that you do at work.
4. Focus on Your Example
The old adage 'do as I say, not as I do' is an awful way to lead and a sure-fire way to erode trust with your team. Leading by example encompasses all your actions, from what time you show up at the office, how much vacation you take, what you wear, to the moral and ethical decisions you make both at work and home.
The choices you make every single day are watched and judged by others. Do your actions exemplify the way you want to be portrayed? One of the most important things you can remember is not allowing your title to effect a positive example you set for your team.
5. Thinking You Have to Be the Hero
Like most professionals, I met my biggest weakness early on. I thought I was the only person who could do things right, and I had to have my hand in every decision. Then someone told me,
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
It was exactly what I needed to hear. From then on, I knew I didn't have to be the hero. Now, I surround myself with talented people, ask for help, give more responsibility, and try to listen more than I talk.
6. Stop Making Excuses
If you habitually struggle with saying or thinking on a regular basis "There is never enough hours in the day" or "this quarter is so important," stop and reflect on what you are saying. Every quarter is important and every day is important but it shouldn't for a minute stop you from thinking critically about how you are leading other people.
I don't care what the circumstance eliminate your excuses, take responsibility and put in the work.
The Windshield Mentality
No matter if you are a manager or a leader, I want you to begin embracing the windshield mentality. All the windshield mentality is, is thinking about what's ahead of you instead of behind you. Start thinking and planning how you are going to implement these habits moving forward and never look back!
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