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Don't Manage, Lead - How To Become a Top Manager

Managers responsible for business units or teams using a “Traditional Manager” management style are not successful in this new business environment. Managers must transform from a “Traditional Manager” to a “Leader” management style to become successful in this new business environment.

Think of all the challenges you face on a daily basis: Motivating teams who are harder to mold and direct than those in the past. Introducing new services more swiftly to keep up with competitors. Managing change in all its variations from new company regulations, methods, policies, etc. Successfully completing complex projects quicker and with less resources. Managing higher customer expectations. Managing higher company expectations. Managers responsible for business units or teams using a “Traditional Manager” management style are not successful in this new business environment. Managers must transform from a “Traditional Manager” to a “Leader” management style to become successful in this new business environment.

Let’s take a look at how you can improve team and organization performance by transforming oneself from a traditional manager to a leader.

Traditional Managers vs. LeadersSo why are there so few leaders? Many believe the “Traditional Manager” management style based on ordering people around, kicking butt, and taking names gets results quicker. This can work, but there is a huge negative impact to employee morale, team performance, and long term success.

Meeting the new business challenges demands leadership. Why would you want to change your management style?Who is the best motivator? A Leader. Who gets the greatest effort and most insightful thinking from people? A leader. Who always meets stiff challenges and goals? A leader. Who summons from people virtues like loyalty, commitment, and on-the-job exuberance? A leader. Who gets promoted? A leader.

Today’s managers have been trained since childhood to manage people using traditional manager tactics. Changing this paradigm is difficult but necessary for their success in the future. A Leaders Core Competencies provides a framework for the traits and skills found in successful leaders. For managers to advance their career and improve team or organization performance, they will need to understand the differences between the traditional management and leader management style.

Do executives really believe leadership skills are important?In a 2004 survey by CIO Insight Magazine, 43% of executives surveyed stated “Strong Leadership Skills” was the most important thing to look for when hiring or promoting managers.

Leadership Transformation - 4 Step PlanFollow these steps to move from a traditional manager to a leader.

1. Review and understand a leaders core competencies 2. Identify the traits and skills you DO NOT demonstrate consistently 3. Develop an action plan (steps/timeframe) to develop these new traits 4. Review your progress quarterlyLeaders Core CompetenciesTo successfully transform a traditional manager to a leader we must first identify the common core competencies and then describe the traits and skills demonstrated by each management style.

The following is a list of core competencies:

1. Managing People 2. Meeting Goals 3. Thinking Style 4. Communication Style 5. Emotional State 6. Trust In Others 7. Openness Toward Others 8. Ability To Take Action 9. Staff Mentoring 10. Managing Change 11. Attitude 12. Value System 13. Measuring PerformanceNext, lets dive into the traits and skills demonstrated by leaders.

1. Managing PeopleLeaders: Strategize project and team direction, building a roadmap to the future. Inspires employees to perform at their best. Motivate employees, keeping morale up. Get things done, but also develops a sixth sense “gut feeling” which can be more valuable than mounds of data when it comes to decision making. Figures out the right things to do. Hates bureaucracy and all the nonsense that comes with it.

2. Meeting GoalsLeaders: Think and act like an owner of the company. Recognizes the importance of long term goals. Has a vision, the ability to see things as they should become, defining the team and organizations future. Never misses an opportunity to pass along their vision. Involves employees in goal setting, gaining greater commitment from the employees. Committed to succeed, wants to win.

3. Thinking StyleLeaders: Constantly searching for new knowledge from new places. Willing to learn and is committed to education and training. Makes sure employees expand their knowledge base. Continuously redefines the team and organization.

4. Communication StyleLeaders: Reprimand employees in private and praise them in public. Encourage free flowing interactive communication. Let the other person speak first showing they are though of as equals. Listens. Receptive to feedback, both positive and negative. Recognize clear and honest communication is essential in today’s fast paced business world.

5. Emotional StateLeaders: Produce emotional energy. Inspire employees and customers to consistently achieve goals. Motivate employees and customers to perform at their best.

6. Trust In OthersLeaders: Maintain a high level of trust with their employees. Maintain a high level of commitment to their employees. Surround themselves with competent, responsible, ambitious and supportive people. Leave proven performers alone to do their job.

7. Openness Toward OthersLeaders: Embrace diversity. Are highly receptive to new ideas and people who are different. Realizes new, young, original or off the wall ideas could evolve to become the cutting edge solution needed. Let the group know they understand their viewpoint, whether they agree or not.

8. Ability To Take ActionLeaders: Are self starters and action oriented with a “Just Do It” attitude. When new ways of doing things should be implemented, putting them into action will fall on the shoulders of the whole team. They think quick on their feet. Come up with solutions to critical situations. Anything worth doing does not have to be done perfectly, at first. Allow mistakes and uses them as a teaching opportunity. Takes calculated risks.

9. Staff MentoringLeaders: Stay out of the detail and focus on higher order tasks such as vision, strategy, and planning. Help the individual employee develop the habits he or she needs to be more successful at communicating, planning, organizing, and contributing to the goals of the business. Empower employees to make decisions, take risks and take action. Observe performance and provide feedback. Identify and groom a successor.

10. Managing ChangeLeaders: Stimulates and relishes change. Adapts to change quickly to maintain high levels of productivity within the team. Does not become frightened or paralyzed with fear. Sees change as an opportunity.

11. AttitudeLeaders: Realize the impact of a positive attitude on customers, employees, and superiors. Treat everyone as unique and special. Offer welcoming words, smiles, and is courteous. Remain objective and nonjudgmental. Apologize and admit mistakes. Maintain a positive frame of mind.

12. Value SystemLeaders: Values are documented, displayed and referred to daily. Values are something considered worthy in and of itself. Values guide people. Values identify what behavior is acceptable and what behavior is not. Values form the team foundation and guide employees daily. Keep it simple, example “The Customer is King”, “We do flawless work”.

13. Measuring PerformanceLeaders: Performance is always measurable. They measure current performance and then track progress. Take the guess work out of the employees performance. Involve the employee in tracking their own performance. Measurements are meant as training tools as well as nonjudgmental methods of feedback. Measurement to performance is always known.

The Value PropositionTo meet new business challenges, organizations have realized traditional managers do not have the skills to dramatically improve performance. Leaders have proven they add value and can:

1. Increase productivity 2. Reduce costs 3. Lower staff turnover 4. Quicker time to market 5. Increase innovation 6. Improve customer satisfaction 7. Improve company satisfaction 8. Successfully complete more with fewer resourcesCan You Become A Leader ?Were you born a leader? Of course not. Can you be a leader? Yes.

Leaders are made rather than born. To be successful and meet the new business challenges, traditional managers must concentrate on developing a leaders core competencies. Leadership training, mentoring, experience, and daily dedication to the core competencies will be the key to your success in the future.

To get started on your path to becoming a top performing managerPsychology Articles, you need to take the first step.

Good luck with your future success.

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Dennis Sommer is a widely respected and world renowned authority on sales, business development and leadership performance improvement. He is a leading adviser, author, and speaker providing clients with practical strategies that improve personal and organization performance. He has held numerous consulting, sales, and leadership level positions with Accenture, Jo-Ann Stores, and CA, Inc. Please contact Dennis at: or

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