Getting From Manager to Leader

Joe Weinlick
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You might think the words "manager" and "leader" are used in the exact same way, but the differences between the two roles can differ greatly. When you think about trying to go from manager to leader in your professional life, your focus changes. Read on to learn how to turn your managing skills into fantastic leadership.

Managers and leaders share some basic qualities, and both try to inspire teams of people to accomplish a common goal. When you transition from manager to leader, it's important to know the practical variations between the roles. Managers work with the day-to-day operations of a department, which entails moving a team forward in small bits to work towards a larger accomplishment. For example, a manager of a sales team makes sure each team member contacts potential customers at the right time, makes appointments and creates sales presentations.

Business leaders, on the other hand, have a longer-term strategic vision. Leaders must see the big picture and fully understand how daily work leads to an end game. When going from manager to leader, you have to know how the success of a sales presentation affects the company six months into the future. A sales presentation can affect production schedules, staffing levels, winter holiday sales and even stock prices further down the road.


Jumping from manager to leader means letting go of some day-to-day tasks. Instead of trying to meet daily goals through your work, you turn to setting daily goals by understanding and analyzing metrics. Rather than setting appointments for a sales team, you determine how sales staff can work more efficiently to generate more qualified leads and earn more revenue. Your vision for the future can turn a company into a powerhouse in its niche market if you examine the right data properly and figure out how teams can optimize that data. This means you have less time for the daily tasks that you used to do as a manager.


The ability to inspire people to follow your vision is essential when you transition from manager to leader. You have to communicate your vision properly so that everyone sees the big picture you create. You must understand why every role in the company is important and why everyone's daily tasks create the outcome you see for the firm. Open yourself to honest feedback as you assess how to move forward, since the very people who buy into your vision also understand what happens on the front lines of your business model.


As you inspire the people around you, you learn to develop talent in key areas. Help reach the business's goals by helping valuable employees reach their individual goals. Reward trusted talent with more responsibility, and surround yourself with people who can get the job done right.

Going from manager to leader is a process that takes time. However, if you have what it takes to delegate, inspire and develop your co-workers, the rewards in your own career can be wonderful.

Photo courtesy of suphakit73 at


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