What’s the Secret to Becoming a Leader? Stop Being a Boss. by Peter Daisyme
Striving to become a legendary leader? Ditch those management habits — fast — and focus on the bigger picture..
Although the difference between managers and leaders appears almost nitpicky at face value, it’s actually quite distinct. The former control the direction of progress through existing and emerging processes; the latter provide vision and inspiration without getting in the trenches. Think of leaders as premium fuel and managers as an efficient engine: Both are necessary to get a sports car from one destination to another. That distinction, however, is darn hard to implement in most companies.
The basic issue is that when strong managers rise to leadership levels, they’re expected to change their way of doing things. But just because they boast a C-suite title doesn’t mean they can let go of their “let’s all roll up our sleeves and dig in” attitude. In fact, many lean on old patterns of managerial behavior, which destroy their ability to adjust. Yet modern leaders must be willing to bury the management habits they honed and become coaches instead.
As Robert Glazer, CEO and founder of Acceleration Partners, noted in Entrepreneur: “Leading a productive team entails letting go of daily operations to focus on setting a clear strategy and vision — the ‘why’ and ‘what’ — and getting comfortable leaving your team to manage the ‘how.’”
Glazer added that millennials, set to become the largest cohort of U.S. workers by 2019, according to Pew Research Center, are particularly keyed in to how they’re being led from above. Heavy-handedness isn’t appreciated, but motivation is.
The rewards for solid leadership aren’t just anecdotal: Data examined by the Harvard Business Review showed a correlation between exceptional leaders and exceptional workers. In other words, the faster leaders stop managing and focus on leading, the stronger the likelihood of stellar corporate performance. If you yourself are a new leader, such seemingly small actions can help you ditch some of your manager-focused ways
1. Stop micromanaging.
Find yourself wanting to jump into the fray every time your team does something amiss? Remind yourself that leaders who meddle are just micromanaging their employees to death. The more time you spend distrusting people’s motives and movements, the less energy you can spend on your role as a high-level leader.
Is intervention among the ranks occasionally warranted? Yes, but not all the time. If you find yourself putting out fires for your teammates, you may have one of two problems. First, you might be stuck in a management mentality, in which case you’d be wise to wean yourself from those toxic tendencies. On the other hand, you may have workers who are not up to the tasks at hand; that scenario necessitates a rearrangement of workloads, or even the addition of new faces and perspectives.
“I used to be a micromanager, and I’m someone who’s always had high expectations for myself and anybody who works with me,” Rick Nuckols, the president of Container Technology, wrote on his company website page. After changing his ways, he took a different approach: “I always try to be fair and open about what’s going on and where we’re going and how. I try to give them the tools they need to succeed. We try to create an environment where they treat it like it’s their own business. Making people feel appreciated is so important.”
2. Delegate, giving your people permission to succeed — and fail.