During one’s professional career, everyone meets a number of leaders and managers. Each leads with their personal strengths and abilities. Some of them are making a positive impact around them and some aren’t so much. Being a leader is actually something that isn’t dependent on one’s position. Not only the ones with power are leaders. Let’s take a look at what being a leader actually is.
Firstly, leadership and management are not the same things. Leadership is basically an ability to inspire and guide others towards a common vision. It is about influencing and motivating others to work towards something they believe in.
Management, on the other hand, is the process of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling resources in an organization to achieve specific goals. Management involves setting targets and measures, developing policies, and allocating resources to achieve the targets. A manager has the formal authority to make decisions and assign tasks.
Leadership is focused on the future, to where the organization is heading.
A leader may not necessarily be a manager or the other way around. Leadership is often more focused on the future, to where the organization is heading in 6-12-18 months. While management focuses more on the present, taking care that everything runs efficiently.
To summarise: Leadership is the ability to inspire, guide, and coach, while management is the process of achieving goals through planning, organizing, and controlling.
How to become a better leader?
Becoming a better leader requires a big heart. You need to care about your vision, organization, and people. On top of that, you need to develop a strong combination of knowledge, skills, and a can-do attitude. Experience helps too, but it comes in as you do your thing. Here are 7 ways to grow as a leader:
1. Develop your communication skills
Effective verbal, and written communication is essential for any leader. Practice your communication. Communicate clearly, concisely, and persuasively. Good communication skills help you to build trust and clarify your vision.
2. Be empathetic
It is easy to like an empathetic leader. Some call empathy emotional intelligence - and it is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage others’ feelings. It is also a skill to handle your own feelings in different situations. It is important to remember that everything people do is based on relationships. You are better off when you are good at building them. And in building relationships, empathy is a handy tool.
3. Learn to delegate
There is always too much to do for just one person. Learn to delegate tasks and responsibilities to the right people, and then trust them to complete the work. Nobody needs another micromanager. Besides trusting people to do their job will help you to build a stronger team.
4. Study what you do
When you face new challenges and responsibilities, make sure to take time to analyze your actions. Embrace the successes and do not be ashamed of failures. Failure can be painful for a while, but nothing is a better teacher - if you are willing to learn. Keep your mind open to feedback and when something just doesn’t work, be quick to try something else.
5. Behave the way you want to see others behave
Leading by example is the most powerful way to influence others. Your organization’s culture is a mirror that reflects your personal way to lead. If you want to for example create a culture of accountability, make sure to set a good example by taking responsibility for your own actions.
6. Embrace change
Yeah, change is constant and change is inevitable. A good leader is able to adapt to whatever the World will throw at them. Learn to be flexible, and adjust your approach if needed. It’s not the crisis, economical turbulence, or pandemics that define us, but it is how we act when they arrive.
7. Learn and grow as a person
A wise man said that blessed are those like children. The best leaders are childishly curious and their mind is always open to learning new things. Read books, attend seminars, and learn new skills. You never know what you’re capable of unless you stretch your limits.
Remember that leadership is a path of continuous learning and becoming a better leader requires practice and persistence. But if you are a leader taking new steps is your responsibility, because being a leader is a job.