Only one in 10 people have the talent to manage, according to Gallup's research.
There’s more to being a great manager and leader than just making decisions on the behalf of a team and pointing people in a certain direction, hoping that you all succeed at some point down the road. Instead, leadership is an art. Leaders are trustworthy, reliable, passionate, goal-oriented, deadline-driven, organized and inspiring. They’re people who motivate those around them, and they’re people who get work done.
Are you ready to move into a managerial — and leadership — role? Here's what it truly entails.
Being a great manager isn’t simple to explain. That’s because it encompasses a lot of moving parts.
Leadership involves motivating others in the direction of a shared vision with common goals, all while celebrating and leveraging each team player’s individual strengths and helping them to advance their own personal goals. This means sharing common goals and getting everyone not only on board with them but also excited about them. It means making sure that those common goals bring value to each individual player. It also means recognizing each individual players’ unique goals of their own and making sure that they get to where they want to be going on the way.
It’s also about taking the wheel to steer the ship, all while understanding that you can’t do it all alone. This means knowing how to best delegate tasks and distribute the weight of the tasks in the most efficient, productive, and successful way possible. It means recognizing when processes aren’t working and understanding how to adjust and adapt to make the most of everyone’s skills and experiences.
It’s important to note the differences between leaders and managers, however. Managers have a more hands-on relationship with their teams and tend to care more about the interpersonal, day-to-day happenings. Leaders tend to work more independently. What they stand for alone is what inspires those around them. They’ve created a name and a brand for themselves that others know, trust, and are willing to follow. While managers can certainly be leaders, not all managers are. And not all leaders are managers. Sometimes, a leader is at the bottom of the totem poll.
Anyone can be a manager, but it’s important to understand that leadership doesn’t necessarily come naturally to everyone. It's tied to your professional performance. So, the more you advance in your career, likely, the more responsibilities you’ll have, and the more others will report to you — seeing you as their leader.
Of course, getting to that point in your career, however, takes time and effort. Even if you’re a natural-born leader, you still need to put in the work to prove to those around you that you’re someone they can trust to lead. In other words: Leadership doesn’t just happen overnight.
If you’re not naturally a leader, you can certainly learn to be one. There are tons of resources out there to help you improve your leadership skills. Lean on your organization’s resources, if any, as well, to advance your career. The more skilled you become in your craft, the better you can help others in your industry, as well. Just remember that you don’t have to look or behave in any particular way to be a great leader; leaders come in all shapes and sizes, even if you haven’t found one who looks like you.
Here’s how to tell who is a true leader from who isn’t.
Someone who is optimistic but still realistic. They understand goals and visions, and they’re excited to get there. But they also understand what it’s going to take to get there, and they act and plan accordingly. So they motivate their team, but they also put people to work in the most efficient and productive possible ways. And they do this in a way that they maximize people’s strengths without burning them out.
Someone who sets expectations and holds others accountable. They’re very organized and know what they need from everyone — and they clearly communicate those needs while providing the resources and support to help their teams deliver. They then hold others accountable for meeting their goals and deadlines, too. This sets a precedent that eventually turns into a standard — and when you have standards, you have success.
Someone who others can depend on for direction and guidance. While they may not have the time to talk to everyone all the time, those beneath them know that they’re at least willing to hear critiques and that they have open minds. They embrace change, and they help their teams navigate it all, too. If they can, they’ll keep an open door to hear others' questions and concerns — and they practice active listening when they do.
Someone who supports team members in both a common goal and their own individual goals. They set and communicate common goals, all while helping each unique player on their team achieve their own personal goals. They know that the most personally satisfied people are the most engaged people, so they make sure to keep everyone happy and working together toward a shared vision that benefits everyone.
Someone who practices what they preach. They don’t ask of others what they wouldn’t do themselves. They set guidelines and follow them. They set expectations and reach them. They set standards and hold others accountable for the same. You know what to expect from them, and you can always count on them as they have a proven track record of reliability.
Someone who is negative and assumes the worst. These people are pretty pessimistic when it comes to achieving goals, which brings down the vibe of their whole team. And that, of course, can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies. So, for example, if they assume an initiative will fail, they’ll likely not put in as much hard work, and, therefore, the initiative won’t be as successful as it could have been.
Someone who is disorganized and doesn’t follow their own deadlines or protocols (if they put any in place at all). These types of people cannot even organize their own calendars, let alone be in charge of managing others. They don’t have two feet on the ground, and their head is in the clouds. This makes it difficult for other people to follow suit and keep on track with them.
Someone who others cannot turn to for advice or inspiration. These are not the kinds of people that others feel safe and supported talking to about their questions or concerns. They are close- and narrow-minded individuals. They don’t accept change very well. And they aren’t willing to listen to construction criticism. Even if they listen, they don’t always hear it.
Someone who does not advocate for their team members’ personal successes. These are not the types of people who care about their teams — or even the team goal. Rather, they care about themselves and their own personal gains. This is evident in how they act and how they celebrate, or don’t celebrate, others’ successes.
Someone who does not lead by example. These people tend to set poor examples for others with both their words and their actions. They don’t act with professionalism and, as a result, their teams have a warped understanding of what’s OK and what’s not. This becomes especially true when they do something but then reprimand someone else for doing the same.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.
© 2022 Fairygodboss