Are you a manager or a leader? Some use the words “manage” and “lead” interchangeably, while others talk about the differences between the two. The truth of the matter is this: every leader may not be a manager, but every manager should be a leader. Think of it as managing things and leading people, a concept that is especially true for small business owners who generally must wear multiple hats.
Leadership is about getting people to understand and believe in your vision and to work with you to achieve your goals, managing is more about administering and making sure the day-to-day things are happening as they should.
Transforming yourself into a leader doesn’t happen overnight, but to begin shifting your focus towards leading, here are five things you can do:
1. Listen, then speak. You can’t hear if you’re talking. Effective listening takes practice, but you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to the people you lead. For employees, knowing their leader is listening is an instant morale booster.
2. Learn from the past. If you have a predecessor, learn what worked for them. Then look at your own history, and figure out what’s worked and what hasn’t. Chances are, if you embrace tactics that have been successful in the past, they’ll likely work well again.
3. Build relationships. Leading is a relationship activity, so take more time and focus more energy on building relationships with those you lead. As you build relationships, you give yourself the opportunity to be more effective as a leader.
4. Encourage staff to be part of the solution. You don’t have all the answers, so ask your team for ideas. Encourage their creativity and reward them for successes. Being part of the solution makes people feel valued.
5. Take the lead. Show the way by rolling up your sleeves to help a group with a sticky problem or to help them overcome a time crunch. Maybe you’ve been in their job position and know the ropes, so you can to help in that way. Maybe you help by getting rid of an obstacle or by simply providing moral support.
Effective management shouldn’t be approached through force, but rather through influence. Using these leadership techniques is sure to improve the way your employees perform, and make you a better leader and manager.