Leadership is not the same as management.
Employees respect, trust and follow good leaders, not bad managers. Leaders are examples to rank and file employees and inspire team members to embrace the organization instead of just showing up every day and completing individual tasks.
They are mentors and by example lead others to work harder, faster, better and more productively.
Leadership doesn’t magically descend on managers as soon as they are promoted.
It takes a lot of hard work, respect for team members, trust and even humility.
Yes, humility. Mangers willing to work in the trenches show employees they aren’t special or exempt but will work hard and function within the team to help the organization and the employees grow.
Leaders focus on employee well-being more than their own title or status.
When employees work for managers who flaunt their credentials or title, they are less motivated, less productive and may even be openly hostile.
In contract, leaders inspire loyalty and hope for the future. They work for positive change instead of offering team members negativity in the form of fear-based or “just do your job and make me look good” management.
Making employees feel important is much more effective than trying to make everyone else treat the leader as important.
Employees who feel important, valued and appreciated will work harder for that manager. Instead of looking at workers as cogs in the wheels of the organization, just to be used to perform specific tasks, leaders treat each employee with respect and as a valuable contributor to the team.
Judging each situation fairly and dispassionately may be hard, but a leader sets his or her ego aside and assesses each decision for the benefit of the entire team, not just the manager.
Control versus collaboration
It’s not easy to put aside ego when you’ve reached a management position you’ve worked tirelessly to obtain. But exerting the heavy hand of control and obsession with goals only spreads fear, not loyalty through your team. Positivity wanes and innovation and positivity dwindles.
Increased focus on end goals and not workers contribute to employee stress and leads workers to feel used and not important to the organization. Resentment may build when team members only hear about what they are doing wrong and how they can push harder (as if they weren’t already).
Hardline management presents the manager as more important and in control without help from employees. When that happens, managers lose talented team members to other departments or organizations and foster a culture of “just good enough” among workers who stay and pit team members against one another.
Leaders motivate, value, energize and inspire employees, not as means to an end, but as part of a team valued for its contribution to the organization.
Becoming a leader won’t happen overnight but reducing your ego and highlighting your team is a good step forward.