What is the ultimate leader? Many have debated this for a long time. What these clever people have decided upon is that a leader and a manager are not the same thing.
What is the difference between a leader and a manager then?
A manager is someone who does just that – they manage. This could mean managing people or work among other things. They are someone who delegates work to their team. Managers push people to do their jobs but the difference here is that a manager lacks the will or capability to instil any vision of their own to help lead the team. Managers are just going through the motions.
A leader on the other hand is someone who shows through their actions how others should act and work. They do not instruct from a distance but rather they get involved on all levels working towards a common goal. A leader works with their team instilling a common vision. Having a vision and a purpose are fundamental when you want to establish yourself as a leader.
Being the ultimate leader includes 6 elements:
Purpose and vision
Goals are an important part of many facets of life. Being goal-orientated means you have an advantage over those who are not. A leader is goal-orientated. They have a purpose and a plan to reach the objectives they have set out with the team. This purpose and vision must be kept at the forefront of all efforts and this is what a leader facilitates.
Thomas weighs in here and says transparency is not about asking your team what they are doing every minute of every day. Rather, it is about you and your team coming together and demonstrating to each other how each of you plans to improve and achieve results. Transparency goes with accountability. Leaders should be able to take responsibility for their own actions and inspire others to do so. A leader and their team should be transparent about their mistakes too as well as the steps they are going to take to fix them.
Leadership is a journey, and it is also a learning process. Consistency is key when you want to implement a successful vision. And as a leader, it is important to be careful when you are working with people. It is important to have a consistent attitude and approach when a problem arises.
Like in every professional environment, you work with people that are different from you. You’ll naturally form better relationships with some people more than with others. So, it is easy to let your personal feelings come in the way when a situation comes about. If you employ a consistent approach when dealing with problems and people, you will be a leader who is fair in the workplace.
Communication is key whether it is in the form of documents, emails or face-to-face. It is important to consider the right time to communicate, what you are communicating and the appropriate method to use when communicating. Keep this in mind when you want to communicate something to your team, you should think about the possible impact it will have on them.
Note that it is also important to set boundaries when you are communicating. Do not bombard and suffocate your team with information. Choose the appropriate time and method when communicating.
Empathy is about understanding people’s personal situations and accommodating them to help them to go above and beyond in their professional lives. It shows that you care about the people you are working with. An important trait in a leader. It is going to pay off in the long term because they’ll want to stay and be the best they can be in order to achieve the best they can. As a leader, you might think you have to be harsh, rarely show emotions and make cut-throat, critical decisions. But the majority of people will not react positively to that behaviour. You want your team to feel professionally comfortable and cared for.
As a leader, you should not ask your team to do something that you would not do yourself. Unfortunately, there is a culture that has been created where most leaders dump the work that they don’t want to do on someone else. The higher up they get, the easier it becomes for them to say, “I am not doing that, you can sort it out” says Thomas.
Leadership is not just about delegation and giving work to your team – it’s about understanding their strengths and weaknesses and understanding that everyone’s methods are different. Your team should be able to have the space where they can figure out what works best for them and what makes them comfortable in order to do their job the best that they can.
The cultural environment you create also comes back to accountability and as a leader you naturally get credit for the success, but you and your team should share the success because they also made it happen. It is about empowering your team and saying, “This is what we have done, we achieved success”.
As a leader, you should take responsibility for your mistakes and reflect on what you have done. If you are not admitting that you made a mistake to your team, you’ll then damage that professional trust. It is vital to have that humility and be vulnerable with them.
You should aim to create a culture where there is no judgement and where you and your team can admit you’re wrong and then ask “How do we move forward?” without the fear of being judged. Do not hold each other’s mistakes against each other because it is part of the learning process.
Lead don’t manage.