By Leanna Cruz, Editorial Director
Generally the primary factor which derails managers who have been promoted to leadership positions is that they continue to focus their efforts on monitoring and directing others to execute strategy and achieve goals. Although some leadership positions include those responsibilities, a leader’s priority is to inspire and influence innovation to improve the organizations future position. So, while managers are charged with maintaining the status quo, leaders operate from the perspective of improvement and change, and must influence others to help to develop a vision for the future and feel good about change.
A survey conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership which looked at executives from Fortune 100 firms whose careers stalled found that failure to redirect efforts from monitoring work to inspiring improvement caused career stagnation. It is the smart manager who assesses current skills against those required for the sought after leadership position, and then puts a professional development plan into action.
The Role of a Manager
Planning and budgeting for the immediate future is the manager’s responsibility. Their charge is to establish detailed steps, allocate resources and execute the plan. Staffing and organizing qualified individuals is essential to achieve the goals they are charged with achieving. Their initial success relies on them effectively communicating the plan, delegating responsibility and monitoring progress to ensure the work gets done. To advance the plan they need to rely on problem solving skills including monitoring results, reporting, identifying deviations and organizing solutions.
The Role of a Leader
By contrast leaders are responsible for setting the direction for the future, developing a vision through collaboration, and then analyzing trends to develop a strategy to get there. Rather than direct, leaders must effectively communicate in the abstract yet achieve a vision of the future by motivating and inspiring. It might seem that calling on their skills to develop a vision for the future is the most difficult responsibility, but many leaders will argue that calling on those skills required to minimize frustration of all constituents and creating an environment so that they remain positive about the resulting change is just as challenging.
If you wish to wear the leadership, you must develop all skills of influence. Although your job title may give you some authority to be effective in a management function your most significant function requires you to be able to influence others to willingly and enthusiastically make positive change.
A simplistic contrast between management and leadership is that a manager maintains order, copes with complexity and avoids chaos, but a leader inspires positive change expanding and pushing the boundaries. Success as a leader lies in understanding the details. The first step should be to hone all skills that affect your ability to influence because you will need to motivate employees to make extraordinary contributions toward change while maintaining trust, cohesion, and harmony.
In the January issue you will read about how you can successfully navigate your career toward a top leadership position. The March issue is dedicated to Leadership Skills for the Future. Subscribe now.