Managers are Leaders too, right?

In my career, I held many roles where the title was “Manager” or “Senior Manager”. The position descriptions for these roles focused on the responsibility for the performance of my team, setting and achieving the budgets, the Key Performance Indicators and generally making sure things got done safely and efficiently.

Did this make me a leader?

I used to think so.

The key difference between the two is that a manager is effective in getting the things that need to get done completed. They are often a subject matter expert or a technician. They focus on the details and the micro.

A leader looks less at the detail and focuses on the overall vision of the organisation or department. They look at the capability of their people and create strategies to support, motivate and develop to get the best from the team whilst on the path to achieving the goals.

A study by the University of Adelaide found that 25% of small businesses fail due to the lack of people management and leadership skills.

How often in your busy week do you take time to reflect on how you’re tracking toward your goals?

A manager will know if the team is on track to meet the sales target for the month but will they know the standard and quality of the sales being made?

Is your team creating wow for your customers like you promised in the initial meeting or consultation?

Are you people living your company’s values all the time?

Do you even have company values?

The value of a true leader is not measured by the work they do, but the work they inspire others to do. Simon Sinek

A leader is focused on the Why we do it, Who we do it for and the How we do it.

Because taking care of these means the What we do and What we want to achieve happen seamlessly.

When making the shift from manager to leader, there are a few key things a manager must become aware of.

The cool thing is that you can use these in any area of your life.

1. I accept that I don’t have all the answers

For some people, this is a very hard concept to grasp. For some people, asking for help or guidance can trigger Imposter Syndrome or a fear of being found out. Feelings of “I should know this” and defensive behaviour can come up.

I know this coz this was me for so many years!

In reality, when you ask someone for their help or guidance, it can have the opposite effect.

It can serve to elevate you in the mind of the person you seek out for help.

It makes them feel good and creates engagement, empowerment and trust.

It opens up channels of communication and collaboration.

Develop a culture of high achievers in your team and you create the motivation for people to stay and play with you.

Asking for the help of others also helps to broaden your own world view. And anytime you can get a different perspective is a gift that can be used over and over.

You never know what you’ll learn.

2. Stop. Think. Act. Reflect

Most of us default to the doing. It’s natural to want to get stuff done - tick off the to-do list, post on the socials, create that product, do, do and more doing.

Have you ever asked yourself for what purpose are you sharing, posting, creating or doing? What is the intention behind doing it? Who is this thing for? Is it meeting the needs of the audience we want to attract?

Or is it meeting your needs?

If your goal was to fly around the world, would you drive or sail between destinations? You’d want to fly the whole way. If the weather turned bad, you’d stop for a while til conditions improved, make some updates and tweaks to the plan.

You’d review the effect of the delay on timing and resources and you’d make changes. And your focus would still be on the original vision to fly around the world.

A leader keeps their eye on the ultimate goal. Before acting they plan, and using these plans, they create strategies, structures and guidelines for the team to follow.

A great leader takes the time to reflect and review AFTER the action has been executed. They seek out the thoughts of others on all aspects of the planning and execution. The team makes the changes and the quality of the outcome improves.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”. John C Maxwell

3. Become a Self-Manager

“We cannot change what we are not aware of. And once we are aware, we cannot help but change” says Sheryl Sandberg.

Becoming self-aware is not easy.

It’s confronting to see, then to accept and change the aspects of your behaviour that are holding you back or not serving you.

It can be hard to change the behaviours of a lifetime.

It can be a kick in the guts or a slap in the face. I hope for you it’s a wake-up call that triggers a desire in you to start understanding yourself more completely.

Self-awareness comes from being coached. Here are a few great questions to ask yourself to increase your self-awareness:

I help my clients become self-aware by bringing awareness to their primary behaviour types.

The Leadership Quotient Assessment tool can help you to easily understand your leadership style and become more aware of your areas for development.

If you adopt even one of the three steps I’ve shared here, your team and business will grow.

While your head is down, buried in the tasks and the doing of stuff, you’re not going to be able to. or have the time to see what’s ahead.

A leader needs to be ready and able to seek out new opportunities and have new conversations. They need to be proactively forward planning to avoid the bad weather ahead.

Give your team the opportunity to join you on your big adventure, to support you and your business goals. Share your goals with them so they can contribute to your growth.


Emma Taberner is a qualified Leadership and Executive Coach, Speaker, Facilitator, author and self-confessed Human Behaviour nerd. With over 20 years Supply Chain industry experience and 10 years coaching and mentoring frontline leaders, she is passionate about helping people to understand how their behaviours determine their effectiveness and success in business, relationships and in life. Emma works One to One, with groups, both face 2 face and online. She focuses on small business owners and their teams to create engaged leaders and sustainable business growth.

When she’s not building future leaders you can find her flying small planes, being in the outdoors, growing her own food and hanging out with her husband of over 20 years.


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