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From Manager to Leader: The Transition You’ll Need to Make

You’ve spent years honing your skills and learning your job inside out. No one knows it like you. So naturally, you’re the right person to take the promotion and lead the rest of the team. Congratulations.

But before you jump in, there’s a few things you need to know. Because it’s not about how good you are at doing the job anymore. When you’re leading the team, it’s about how you behave.

Changing your mindset from manager to leader

As a new leader, the first thing you might do is follow the example of your peers. But what works for one person won’t always work for another. You have to find your own groove and lead in the way that feels right to you.

Consider who inspires you and how they do it. What do you like about the way other leaders have worked with you in the past? Can you put your own twist on it? And – what didn’t you like? You don’t have to be an extrovert or a performer to lead, but you do need to identify your own strengths and develop your style.

What makes a great people leader?

Managers control tasks. Leaders motivate people. Spot the important word! Lead by example. You’re in the spotlight – particularly at the beginning – so don’t be a hypocrite.

You’ll find that different people respond to different styles of leadership, so it’s vital that you get to know your team as individuals. What makes them tick, what motivates them, and how do they like to be recognised for their efforts?

Remember how you respond to criticism from your own managers. When you see something good, point it out. Reward the behaviour that you want to see, rather than focusing on the negatives.

There’s a time for relaxing and a time for work

You also need to change your leadership style to suit the situation. It’s great to be approachable and to make sure that everyone feels part of the team. But beware of entering the ‘friend zone’. You can’t be extra nice all the time. You’ll need to be honest with the people around you, and sometimes that might be uncomfortable, especially if they don’t see you as someone who challenges them as well as supports them.

And when a crisis hits, you need to be sure that everyone recognises that the time for just being nice and approachable is over. It’s head down, follow your lead, and get the job done.

Oh – and by the way. Not everyone wants to be your friend anyway.

The important thing about WAIST

Finally – there is a useful acronym that everyone benefits from learning. WAIST stands for ‘Why Am I Still Talking?’.

Good leaders listen to their teams. Ask questions, and make sure you listen to the answers. Ask only one question at a time, and don’t ask leading questions (to lead them to what you think is the right answer). Let people express themselves. If you find yourself talking more than the other person, it’s time to shut up.

Consider, for example, what you could change about the way your team works to motivate them. What’s more important – the amount of time they spend working, or whether the job is finished properly and on time? Measure the output and not the input. Identify when they must be working, i.e., for meetings, and to suit the needs of the clients, and then adjust the working pattern to suit your team and each individual in it. You’ll be rewarded with more productive and motivated teams.

Support in transitioning from manager to people leader

You were the best at your job, and you knew how to deliver excellent results. Now you’re a leader of people, and in a way, you’re new. You need to redefine your own sense of worth and identify how to measure the value you bring. Your new role is to help your people develop and be proud of what your team is achieving.

Don’t think that the transition to people leader is a simple step forward. Everyone needs support at some point, even the most senior of leaders. Just remember that help is at hand – you just need to ask. If you’d like development in finding your leadership style, get in touch. We have a workshop that will help you find the way forward.

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