Friday, January 16, 2009

Moving from Manager to Leader

I have coached people that have recently taken on a new leadership role. One of the most difficult transitions people make is moving from manager to leader. Often, we underestimate the differences in skills needed to succeed in a leadership role vs that of a manager.

I particularly find that Dr. Karen Otazo's advice in the following article is helpful. Read on to see what she has to say about it.

The Gaps in Your Personal Work Habits Show Up When You Move Up
By Dr. Karen Otazo

Moving into leadership is like moving up in school. No matter how smart and motivated you are, if you don’t know how to organize yourself, the complexity of your new environment will overwhelm you.

You probably advanced because you were the best at what you did. But what got you to where you are may not work anymore. In the past, you may have been able to “wing it” by relying on your wits, but the higher you go on the organizational chart, the more complicated things get.

George unexpectedly moved up from managing a small group of twelve salesmen to leading all of 400 employees in sales and marketing for his company. A smart and enthusiastic leader, he found that he could no longer do what he used to do which was to drift around his department as he cajoled, praised, and pumped up his twelve people. Now he had twenty-nine direct reports and a total group of 400 people reporting to him. The little things that he used to do, like going out with some of the members of his team for happy hour, didn’t go down well with the new team.

Your new leadership position will require you to hone your personal work habits.

Keep up with scheduling: Ensure that you or someone who works for you puts every appointment and meeting on your calendar and that you show up on time.

Delegate with quality standards and due dates: Give your staff and support functions enough guidance and time to get the work done and then hold them to the deadlines.

Follow up on delegation and commitments: Have your assistant keep a follow-up file so that you are on top of all pieces of delegated assignments.

Make decision making clear: Let others know if your decisions include them and whether they have input into the decisions that you make. Also let them know when a decision is theirs to make.

Follow the money: Have someone keep track of budget figures and expenditures on a monthly basis and balance the inflow and outflow.

Ensure fairness in all you say and do: Use checklists to keep track of which staff members you compliment or coach, so you don’t inadvertently ignore some of them.

Let go of being one of the guys: Find leader-like and appropriate ways to interact in your new role. Spend time with your team and with your colleagues at meetings and meals. You need to forge a new way of working with others that is based on your leadership status, and sometimes that will mean maintaining some distance from your group.

Unless you invest enough time and thought in setting up effective working systems and relationships early on, you will get into bad habits and never be able to completely move up. You’ll get overwhelmed, like George, by the complexity, the meetings, and your inability to control the details that you used to attend to. And the better you were at doing your job before, the more frustrated you will be about not being able to do what you used to do. Moving up as a leader involves a lot of letting go while still guiding others with interest and support. The sooner you stop doing parts of your old job and embrace the complexity of your new job the more effective you will become.
See more on Dr. Otazo t

What do you think?

1 comment:

kenwork57 said...

I very much enjoyed Dr. Otazo's article, and look forward to following your blog.

I recently wrote an article entitled "From Manager to Leader," which was published in the Public Relations of America's Public Relations Strategist. Although the leaders I interviewed for it are all from the PR world, I believe that their perspectives are valuable to all leaders, current and potential. I'm taking the liberty of providing a link to it:

Ken Jacobs
Jacobs Communications Consulting