It is commonplace to see individuals in organizations use the terms managers and leaders synonymously. While there are similarities between the two, calling them out as identical would be an over statement. The difference lies in the way the individual approaches his/ her role as well as the way others around react. Developing leadership practices to transcend from a manager to a leader is most sought after among those who are new into seniority positions and seek to go an extra inch. Often managers feel that despite complete commitment, efficient delegation, meeting deadlines i.e. doing everything right, they are not able to inspire confidence in their team members.
That’s where the difference between a manager and a leader comes in. While a manager is an execution specialist and can ensure everything is in place, a leader comes with a vision to motivate and inspire everyone to go beyond the paper and achieve excellence.
Do we not need managers then?
In the first instance, most organizations believe that this distinction between managers and leaders makes managers a wrong fit for them. However, that is not the case. Managers are undoubtedly important parts of any organizational functioning. In fact, their executionary prowess is extremely important. The idea is that sooner or later, managers should adopt leadership practices to create impact and results.
Building leadership practices
Building leadership practices and transforming managers into leaders is an organizational imperative. In any organization, the engagement quotient of those who are able to inspire confidence in their teams is higher than those who don’t. Consequently, the engagement of their respective teams is also high. Thus, retention, motivation at work, commitment, etc all increase in proportion. While most organizations invest in leadership development programs, there are hardly any initiatives to develop leadership practices to aid the transition. Here are a few practices that individuals and organizations can collaborate on to develop leaders that inspire impact:
- Faith, confidence & freedom: A manager focuses on efficient execution and, therefore, is particular about delegation in a controlled environment. A leader on the other hand seeks to play on people’s strengths and has faith and confidence in them. To develop leadership practices, a manager must let go of micro-managing every part of the work for his/her team members and give them the freedom and autonomy for experimentation and self discovery. This is not to say that there should be no order or structure, rather there needs to be trust and confidence that allows room for flexibility.
- Empathy & emotional quotient: Managers, generally, are practically driven and seek logical reasoning. Leaders, on the other hand, don a cape of empathy and are high on emotional quotient. They do not simply rely on rational logic to make decisions. Additionally, it is not only about being able to connect and sustain with employees on an emotional level, but also about personal emotional fitness. In positions of seniority, there are bound to be ups and downs and the way one deals with them makes all the difference. Leaders are calm, composed and do not freak out when things go south and are emotionally resilient. To nurture leadership practices, emotional stability and fitness is a prerequisite.
- Mentoring, purpose & responsibility: Finally, most managers focus on getting things done, without much attention to individual development and growth. Leaders believe in developing their people via mentoring, coaching and upskilling. Their focus is on aligning the organizational goals with the professional goals of employees to create the purpose of work. At the same time, leaders leave their ego at the door and take complete responsibility for their team’s performance. They also inspire this quality in their team members by taking ownership of anything they do that doesn’t work out. Invariably, leaders come out as genuine and authentic.
Leadership practices: Making all the difference
To cut a long story short, developing leadership practices is equally important for organizations and individuals. While it spells professional development and rising the career ladder for individuals, it brings organizational success, unlocking team potential and augmenting the bottom line for organizations. However, nurturing leadership practices is not an overnight game. It requires consistent and subtle changes in one’s outlook, behaviour and personality. Budding leaders and organizations must experiment with external partners and platforms like SuperHumans to facilitate behavioural nudges towards becoming effective leaders.