By Nicole Estrada
There are plenty of managers, but few true leaders. Employers that can find someone with the qualities of both know they’ve hit the jackpot. I recently attended a management seminar, and the topic of leadership versus management sparked a conversation about the differences between the two. We identified the three key traits of someone who is both a manager and a leader, and how we can all start to embody these qualities.
1. A leader develops her team.
Leaders see their employees beyond their job descriptions. They understand that each team member can offer different skill sets and viewpoints, and they use that information to everyone’s advantage.
My takeaway: Encourage team members to teach one another. Where one might be an expert, another could be a complete novice. Pair the two together to foster a team attitude, build camaraderie and set your team up for success. Don’t count yourself out of this as a manager. There are plenty of opportunities to learn from those you manage.
2. A leader listens and communicates.
When your team feels comfortable coming to you with their ideas and concerns, it not only makes them feel valued, it also helps to spark out-of-the-box thinking.
It’s also important for leaders to be able to communicate the tough stuff. It’s not easy to have those harder conversations. Doing so sets you apart as a leader, rather than just a manager.
Takeaway: Allow the people you manage to be open; it can be the push you and your team need to solve problems and work better together.
3. A leader breaks barriers to improve processes.
Leaders encourage change and reward action. Rather than sitting around and complaining about what’s going wrong, they come to the table with solutions. They also recognize and reward those who do the same.
Takeaway: When you inspire and motivate your employees, they will put forth the extra effort to get things done more efficiently.
It takes time to grow from a manager into a leader. By leading by example, building relationships through mentoring, and creating cohesive teams, every manager can push her team to do its best work and bring the company as a whole to a new level.