You can lead without being a manager. You can manage without being a leader. Leadership is always a choice. Choose to lead.
I’ve managed, I’ve led, and I’ve coached managers who’ve aspired to be stronger leaders. I can distill my experience and advice down to five simple things that I think every manager, at any stage of their career, can benefit from recommitting to in order to be a more effective leader.
(Note: Even if you don’t manage, you still lead – this guidance can be useful to you, too!)
Here it goes:
1. Stop doing. Start thinking.
When you get promoted to a managerial or supervisory position, it’s not only your job title that changes – you need to change. You need to stop doing the work and start inspiring the work among your team. You’re now a coach, a teacher, a thinker. Your greatest asset is your ability to translate your ideas into actions your team can take to drive results and achieve success.
2. Develop a Leadership Philosophy.
One of the greatest things I learned in the Corps was the fundamentals of service-based leadership; these ideas were at the core of how I led. My philosophy was that my job was to serve those around me – it was on me to make my team better, more successful as a result of my leadership. A lot of managers lack a philosophy, so they struggle with how they can engage their teams. Spend time thinking about your philosophy on how you want to build teams – this is an important time investment to make.
3. Get Some Rhythm.
This isn’t about dancing or playing a musical instrument. It’s about finding a predictable pattern that ensures you’re doing the things managers must do – hold team meetings, have 1:1 conversations, give routine performance updates, deliver feedback on an on-going and as needed basis. These are the disciplines of management and leadership. Find your rhythm and you’ll find a process that gives your team clear expectations about what they can expect from you as a manager and a leader.
4. Learn How to Coach.
I love football. In the wake of the Super Bowl, I think we can all appreciate what a good coach does – they know their players, know their strengths, and give them useful feedback to help them achieve to their fullest potential. Also, when a player isn’t working with their system, they make a cut – that’s not always the easiest thing, but if it’s not working, and the player isn’t responding to coaching, then difficult decisions need to be made. You can’t make the cut, though, if you haven’t done the coaching. Hold yourself accountable to being a leader who exhausts all options before they let someone go.
5. Talk About the Future.
Many managers fail to see that they have a role and an opportunity to connect with their team members and help them achieve next-level success. As a manager, you need to know that your team members have unique, specific goals and aspirations that they’re striving toward. You can either help them or ignore them. If the latter, know that you run the risk of disengaging them. You can be your team’s hero if you help them level up.
For the managers out there, don’t miss out on daily interactions that can enrich the lives of those looking to you to lead. Your role is both an honor and a privilege. Remind yourself each day that you’ve got a chance to lead. What a great responsibility!
One of the greatest opportunities we have in our life is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those around us.
Ready to recommit to leadership fundamentals?
Download our free guide, “3 Ways to Instantly Improve as a Leader.”
Then put these ideas into action! Forward this guide to those in your network who value leading and managing well.