Organizational change first begins with a change in mindset of the organization’s decision makers. The primary decision makers are often referred to as either managers or leaders; however, each of those labels mean something very different. Mangers focus on directing, constructing, and following the processes, systems, and people of a company. A leader is more concerned about why things are happening and where things can be improved so that the whole company realizes the benefits of a change. In short, managers are more “in the moment;” leaders tend to look at the big picture and how it can successfully shift to keep the company prosperous.
There might have been a time when the labels managers and leaders were rightfully used interchangeably. However, businesses are beginning to understand that sustainability can best be achieved by considering businesses as a piece of its environment. The purpose of a business is to serve others, not to be served by others. This shifting mindset among business owners, customers, and communities has caused new expectations and requirements to be placed on business managers.
Managers vs. Leaders
Being identified as a manager or a leader means there are several traits and abilities leading to noticeable behaviors. The overall goal of business managers is to maintain. The overall goal of business leaders is to develop. Managers tend to focus more on systems where leaders focus more on the people in the systems. Lisa McHale adeptly defines managers as being task oriented – giving objectives, details, expectations, rules and duties to employees. Liz Ryan explains that leaders are more transformative – they create a vision and sell it to employees by building trust. They motivate, inspire, encourage, and provide direction to employees.
An article posted by the Wall Street Journal states that managers are constantly focusing on the bottom line whereas leaders take a more futuristic approach. Managers imitate what has worked so that it is replicable and, therefore, manageable because its familiar. Leaders originate. They innovate. Leaders look at what will be needed and if its not there, they look at how it can be created. Because of this tendency to look beyond what currently exists, leaders are often associated with challenging the status quo, mostly because they must. Managers try to maintain the status quo. Managers are usually trying to eliminate risks as they see problem, where leaders are taking risks as they pursue opportunities.
While managing a business is necessary, doing so with a leadership perspective is more sustainable and ultimately better for the organization. When decision makers make the transition in mindset from a manager to a leader, the organization can adapt to changes more easily. It is clear to see that business owners who have a leadership mentality are going to be more successful in changing their companies. Organizational change is risky, it’s unpredictable, it’s heavily reliant on employee buy-in which requires trust. It’s usually initiated to take advantage of opportunities which require a vision, and it involves changing the company’s status quo.
The question then becomes how – How does a business owner make the transition from manager to leader? There are several strategies which have proven successful and have been listed by Ashley Stahl and Sara Canaday to help transition managers into leaders.
- Enhance personal growth and development
- Expand perspectives to reduce myopic views
- Work on energizing and influencing people by being relational
- Learn how to be an active listener
- Constantly step outside of comfort zones
- Develop and apply the principles of emotional intelligence
While these strategies might seem inconsequential and ambiguous, they are not. Each of these helps to transform the perspective of business owners. When the perspective of the business owner changes, the company can begin to change.
If you are seeking assistance with making the transition from manager to a leader or for taking your leaders to their next level of performance to achieve your long-term goals more quickly, consider investing in our Aepiphanni Ascend Leadership Development Program. We would be happy to assist you with any questions you might have.
Megan Miller is a business writer at Aepiphanni, specializing in the fields of marketing, organizational development, and entrepreneurial strategy development. She has an MBA and a Doctorate of Business with a focus on International Business from Liberty University. Megan is currently active in article publications focusing on knowledge management in small and medium-sized businesses. She researches the topics of entrepreneurial cognition, international entrepreneurship, environmental scanning and knowledge acquisition processes of business leaders.
Megan’s professional goals are to help small and medium-sized businesses become established and increase their competitive ability as a means for improving local and regional economies on a global scale. Megan has a passion for teaching and training young women to become successful in achieving their career goals. She currently works with the Wellspring Living Organization as a volunteer in their Women’s Academy to help educate women coming out of human trafficking and domestic violence lifestyles. She also enjoys traveling and experiencing other cultures with a particular affinity for Ireland and Italy.
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