The Manager Who Would Be “Leader”

The Manager Who Would Be “Leader”

How much more effective would your company be if your managers were better leaders? We believe we know what a leader is, but the problem is a true leader means different things to different people. What a leader is to one person, could be a manager to another.

The distinctions between the two worlds are simple, but often overlooked by those on the opposite side of the desk. Sometimes, those in management think of themselves as the person in charge when in truth they are just the person in place. The position does not make you a leader; action does. If you have ever seen the movie, The Boy Who Would Be King, consider yourself as the manager who would-be leader.

If you are attempting to transition from a managerial mindset to leadership legitimacy, you need to understand the differences in thinking. Here are the first 5 actions steps you need to move to the level of leadership. They are not the complete list, but simply the first steps to start you on the path:


Managers take on positions because it provides them superiority by title and gives them additional control of resources and people. They generally believe the power is in the position, but seldom know if they are a good fit. Leaders assess themselves first to determine if the position offered is in line with the ability they possess. It is never about the position of power over people, but their internal gift to empower those people. Become the leader people want to follow by choice. To thine own self be true!


General Douglas McArthur said, “Don’t give directions; give direction.” Managers understand and adhere to the direction the company has set and take the steps to ensure that their actions are in keeping with corporate vision and the directions they set. Leaders understand vision is two-fold; organizational and personal. The people make the organization work and they have personal visions for themselves. Sometimes they are not aligned. True leaders balance the two and give direction for both to be achieved. Everyone has a vision, but a true leader sets the course.


Managers understand the importance of goals and make every effort to achieve them within a timeline. They often focus on the straight and narrow, the cut and dry, and the rules and regulations. They are more task-oriented. Leaders venture into the unknown. They don’t just see the forest; they look for the landscape beyond it. They establish higher goals that are achieved by the whole team effort. For the leader, when one person achieves their set goal, they all win.


Managers understand that it takes human capital to make organizations function. The problem is they see people as resources to manage instead of people to lead. It becomes an environment of “Do this or that.” Managers provide tasks to be completed and set deadlines with consequence for failure. Leaders understand people are inspired in different ways and they match tasks to those who possess the skills to accomplish them, not just to those who are assigned to perform that function. Every experience is an opportunity to learn; even failure. Recognize how the person learns and empower them to cross-train

each other. Further, encourage them to learn processes from other departments. Teams that learn together are team that win together.


Managers hold on to positions because it is a challenge to relinquish power over people. Some feel threatened with this process for fear that the mentee will become better than them. Managers consider training another when they have something to gain. Leaders understand this simple rule, “If they don’t grow, I can’t go.” Leaders never want to stay stagnant in a role. There is always another level. Growth and development are essential for leadership; therefore, immediately identify 1-2 people to groom to be a replica of you. Remember, as a leader, you don’t determine the speed of your elevation; they do!

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