How Managers Can Move From Management To Leadership

Your goal is to be both inspirational and clear
Your goal is to be both inspirational and clear Image Credit: nist6dh

Congratulations, you are a manager. Your job is to use your manager skills to determine what the company needs to have done and then get your team to do it. Along the way, you need to work with each member of your team to keep them on track. Your goal is to make sure that everyone knows what they need to be doing all the time. This is fine, but now it’s time for you to jump to the next level. It’s time for you to become a leader. Just exactly what does this mean and how will you go about doing it?

Modern Challenges To Being A Manager

Nobody ever said that this being a manager thing was going to be easy to do. What used to work yesterday, no longer seems to work today. It sure seems like the task of being a manager has been transformed by technology. Digital transformations live or die on the basis of a manager’s ability to use their manager training to shift from a management mindset to a leadership mindset. A leadership mindset is one where they’re providing the vision and supporting the team but not necessarily delivering top-down instructions.

This leadership mindset is more about driving disruption and encouraging you team to reach as far as possible into the realm of what’s possible. Your job as a leader is to find ways to inspire innovation and to anticipate what your people — your customers, partners, and team members — will need and want as their lives change. You need to find ways to lead through those changes.

Managers Need To Make Their Goals Clear

Digital transformations can go off the rails when leaders don’t clearly define and articulate their goals. We need to understand that this requires more than an outline of your anticipated business outcomes. You are going to have to use your next team building opportunity to talk through what you’re doing and why and making sure the why matches up with your customers’ needs. Nothing ever stays the same and so it’s also about making your team feel in the loop when goals or strategies evolve.

Managers Have To Get Everyone Speaking the Same Language

Nothing is ever simple and in many industries, there are multiple terms for a single thing and multiple ways to approach challenges. When leading a digital transformation effort, it’s crucial for a manager to get everyone speaking the same language. You have to make sure everyone is clear about the terms and definitions being used and avoid the use of jargon that may confuse nontechnical departments or vendors who aren’t familiar with your acronyms. No digital transformation can happen without help from technical implementers. As a leader, your role is going to be to help technical implementers clearly articulate what they’re doing and why and to help nontechnical people understand what’s changing and how they may need to adapt to it. You must understand enough to clearly communicate what’s happening to your team, even when you can’t do the work yourself.

Managers Have To Manage Expectations

A big part of what stresses team members at work is the feeling that they don’t know what’s going on. This can be especially true during times of transformation. Employees desperately want to be in the know. You as a leader need to listen to their questions, stay patient while clarifying confusion, and be straightforward with them about the challenges that will inevitably come up. It’s your responsibility to make sure team members understand project outcomes in more than just a business sense and to build trust with them through regular updates.

Managers Have To Acknowledge What We Don’t Know

It may not be your technical acumen that’s landed you in your manager job. If that’s the case, then this is a good time for you to exhibit some humility and vulnerability. Don’t be afraid to tell the technical experts on your team that you are consciously incompetent. Ask them to help to educate you. Tell them that you value their ability to contribute to your regular upskilling. When you demonstrate that you’re willing to learn from them, you’ll increase the level of trust within your team.

Managers need to understand that as many as 85 percent of digital transformation projects fail for lack of vision, communication, and collaboration. No digital transformation can happen without the managers who are the technical implementers, but those people also need to connect with and communicate with nontechnical leaders. You need to be proactive in opening up communication from your vantage point.

What All Of This Means For You

I can only speak for myself, but I don’t particularly like change. As managers we have worked hard to build a team, create processes that work, and focus on the tasks that have to be accomplished. The concept of implementing major technical changes can be scary not only for us, but also for members of our team. What this means is that when it becomes time for a change to be implemented, we need to step up from being a manager and become a leader.

When a manager becomes a leader during a time of change, they need to provide both vision and support without having to provide the details about what actually needs to be done. Your goal is to inspire innovation within your team members. You can do this by making sure that the goals of the change process are clear. You need to ensure good communication by making sure that everyone is speaking the same language. In order to keep everyone on the same track, you need to manage the team’s expectation. We don’t know everything and so we need to admit this and seek help from team members who know more than we do.

Change is never fun. Its disruptive and it can be a bit scary for everyone who is involved. However, change always seems to be happening and so as a manager we need to prepare for it and step up when it arrives. When a change is being implemented, this is the time for us to take on a leadership role and help our team to be successful. We need to understand that as leaders we will be called on to do different things. If we can fulfill this role during a time of change then our team can make it through the change and be successful once it is done.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What is the best way to ensure good communication during a period of change?

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As managers, we need to have a number of manager skills in order to be successful in our job. We know what most of them are: ability to communicate, ability to lead, ability to make decisions, and so on. However, it turns out that there is one very important skill that we often forget about – the ability to write well. When was the last time that you took a course on writing? Probably sometime back in high school and even then it was probably only part of the course. What can managers do in order to boost their writing skills?