May 29, 2023

5 Skills That Will Help You Transition from a Manager to a Leader

It’s one thing to be a manager but quite another to truly embody leadership. Paraphrasing Peter Drucker, managing involves “doing things right”, while leadership is about “doing the right things”. The difference lies in understanding not only the technicalities of the job but also the art of leading a team and inspiring success.

Cultivating certain people management skills is crucial to transform from a manager into a leader. These skills can significantly enhance professional growth, team success, and overall business development. Let’s begin by understanding the concept of people management skills and why they matter.

Why are people management skills so vital?

A manager possesses the technical expertise and practical knowledge necessary to guide a team. However, maximising success requires the development of soft skills associated with people management. These skills help leaders align teams towards common objectives and enable individuals to unlock their full potential.

Often, obstacles to success aren’t technical but interpersonal - issues with communication, trust, or motivation. Addressing such issues can spell the difference between a high-performing and an underperforming team. The leader’s interaction with the team and the team’s interaction with each other play significant roles.

So, which people management skills should one develop to become a leader? Here are five key skills to focus on.

5 critical skills for effective leadership

The human experience is complex, and successful leaders need a range of skills to navigate this complexity. Here are five skills to refine your people management abilities. Which ones could you develop further?

Clear and honest communication 

Successful teamwork hinges on effective communication. As a leader, you should set the standard for clear and honest communication. 

Be transparent when setting goals, providing feedback, and assessing progress. This clarity builds confidence in the team, while honesty promotes trust and encourages team members to voice concerns proactively. Frequent check-ins are a good habit to get into when things are going well so issues can be identified and resolved when they do arise.

Constructive and fair feedback 

Progress is fuelled by feedback. As a leader, your role involves monitoring the team’s performance and providing constructive feedback. 

Feedback is often synonymous with bringing up issues but celebrating strengths and successes is just as crucial as addressing issues - both contribute to personal growth and the achievement of team targets. Any problems that do need to be addressed should be communicated as an opportunity for growth to avoid defensiveness.

Empowering and trusting delegation 

Avoid micromanaging when delegating tasks. Allow your team to take ownership and excel in their respective areas – all while appreciating everyone communicates and works differently.

When employees aren’t given the space to get on with their job, they can get frustrated, lose confidence in their skills and feel like they aren’t trusted. This is demotivating and reduces productivity. Encourage your team’s individual strengths and preferences to foster a trusting, productive environment.

Empathetic and transparent problem solving

Problems are inevitable, but how you handle them can set the tone for your team. Approach issues with empathy, encouraging an open dialogue for a comprehensive solution. How the leader deals with issues sets the tone for the rest of the team.

Also, transparency about your own mistakes helps avoid a hierarchical divide and fosters a culture of continuous learning. After all, every issue is a learning experience and an opportunity for improvement and innovation.

Uniting and inspiring through a shared vision

Keeping your team motivated and aligned is pivotal. Inspire them by continuously emphasising the business’s mission and how their work contributes to this larger goal. Through times of success and challenges, keeping the team united under a shared vision is key. This shared vision motivates the team to work productively and engage in self-improvement projects.

While hard skills are essential in the workplace, the value of the human experience cannot be overstated. As a leader, the ability to handle the people aspect of the workplace optimally, especially in the era of remote and hybrid work, is crucial. A robust set of people management skills will make the transition from manager to leader a successful one.


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