By Lee Polevoi
You’ve worked hard to become a great manager. The next step in your career is to become a great leader. First, it’s important to know the difference between the two. Warren Bennis, author of On Becoming a Leader, notes some important distinctions:
- The manager administers; the leader innovates.
- The manager maintains; the leader develops.
- The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
- The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
- The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
To make the leap from manager to leader, keep the following in mind:
Look at the big picture. Rather than focus on an individual task, strive to understand its place in the context of the organization’s overall goals and purpose.
Keep your promises. Only make promises that you can deliver. When you make a commitment, stick to it regardless of the circumstances. Failing to come through erodes yourpotential.
Bring value to others. A good manager can deliver a project on time and within budget. A leader seeks to improve processes and enables team members to grow by taking on more significant roles. This includes providing the training and resources that help ensure their success.
Develop your own skills. Leaders work continuously to expand their knowledge and focus on ambitious, long-range goals.
Be the person others can count on. Leaders gain a reputation for assisting teams throughout the organization. They mediate conflicts, assist in difficult situations, and help others learn to solve problems on their own.
Inspire people with your vision. Leaders demonstrate such a strong belief in their vision of the future that team members feel compelled to follow. Leaders understand that change involves risk, but they willingly take risks to achieve their objectives.
Above all else, leaders are driven to be a positive influence and to use their power to benefit both the organization and the people who work there.