It’s possible for anyone in a company to be a great manager. You don’t need the promotion fairy to come around and tap you with a magic wand and say, “Now you’re a manager!” It’s also possible to be a great leader and completely suck at managing. Think of those executives who inspire the workforce but can’t actually get anything done.
“Manager” and “leader” are titles that sometimes get used interchangeably, but in my experience, they’re very different.
I’ve never left a job because of a manager, but apparently that’s enough of a reason that it’s made multiple top 10 lists. If people leave because they don’t trust the firm, that’s also a leadership issue.
Ideally, companies would be able to hire people who are both managers and leaders. That’s not always possible, though. But even if you don’t have official managerial experience, you have several opportunities each day to demonstrate that you could be both.
I’m not an expert, but here’s my advice for anyone trying to be both a manager and a leader:
- Get shit done. At the end of the day, your productivity and performance are on the line. Even if parts of your job are delegated to others, make sure they’re delivering according to expectations. Actually accomplishing things helps set you apart (instead of looking like you’re just blowing smoke).
- Be honest. People don’t like getting surprised by feedback that was either held back or delivered to someone above them. When you can, be honest with your colleagues. Deliver feedback to the person who can make the change. You also have to be honest with yourself and take responsibility for your own actions. If no one else is holding you accountable, at least hold yourself accountable. People respect that.
- Be part of the solution. We hear this all the time: “Be part of the solution, not the problem.” I think that’s always good advice. Instead of complaining, come up with ways to fix the problems you see. That doesn’t mean don’t notice problems. It’s just you have to contribute to ways to fix them.
These tips seem super simple, but clearly they’re tough to follow. If they were easy, we’d all be amazing leaders and managers. Whether you vowed to spend more time at the gym or eat better in 2013 or didn’t make any resolutions at all, include some of these tips in your work life. They’re worthwhile resolutions you should be able to keep.