The Transition from Leader to Manager

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Bangalore-based tells us what it takes to move up to the position of a manager from that of a leader. Read more about it, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.  

Each of us is a leader in his/her own right. We are experts at what we do and can guide people to do that well. It is the skill we develop as we start getting comfortable with what we do. We become experts and we start gaining recognition. One day this recognition will turn out to be that that one shot at or a group of teams. This is when we realise that how unprepared we are, certain times it just merges well with the flow and most times there will be issues we may have to overcome.

The realisation that most people who now report into you were once your counterparts and colleagues, and being on the other side of the table, can be a situation you may not be completely prepared to face. A few things you need to think about and pre-empt are situations where people would or may take you for granted and some situations where they tend not to follow what you expect them to, as they may be in a revolting state of mind. You will have tremendous pressure in your head, to prove your worth to the organisation that has recognised you and on the other side team that suddenly seems to be in a different state of mind.

The way you deal with it is what will sculpt your character to become a manager. A manager is not just a tag you carry, but also the double-edged sword you carry. It may at first seem fairly straight forward but you need to be prepared for it.

As part of your preparation for this, first, learn to deal with the colleagues who feel that they deserved the position you are in now. The best way to tackle this bull of a problem is by the horns, face them head on. Confront them with the responsibility you have and set straight. This confrontational moment should be more constructive than destructive, encouraging than discouraging. This can be achieved by keeping things simple and straightforward.

The next step is to get the team geared up, some external team building activity can be a good ice breaker session. Interact with one and all so that there is no one who is left out. Once this stage is done successfully, tasks and can be delegated and you will be able to see how things move.

Work on involving the team as much as possible to sort out issues. Brain storming sessions can be utilised to build a good sense of involvement among the team members. Try to be as transparent in decision making as possible.

The difference between a leader and a manager is something everyone needs to understand. Subtle difference but never the less . The manager always has business in mind, a leader is more driven by principle and not necessarily looks at of the organisation. This difference is where you will find that you may have missed an opportunity or a shot at becoming a manager of the team. Leadership is a competency that every manager should possess. But it is the business acumen that actually differentiates him from the rest of the group.

Like I started this write-up with a note that everyone is a leader in their own right. What will it take you to prove that you are a manager, it is about your sense of ownership in whatever you do, your sense of managing time for yourself and others where required, your ability to showcase your contribution and your drive to achieve organisation expectations. You will constructively take up arguments and not try to be about things. You will take up issues and show results. You will seek for the challenge and achieve it. Most of what you do will be what you took on and not what you were comfortable. You will get comfortable being in uncomfortable positions.

What can be observed is that in the happiness of having moved to the next level we tend to forget to prepare ourselves for the challenge. It is the initial few days that have to be managed sensibly for you to make a mark as a manager and showcase your transformation from a leader to a manager. It is dangerous for a manager to get over enthusiastic during this critical initial stage and over commit. They fail to understand that they are still not in the complete hold of the team and may end up pressurising the team so much that there is an air of that develops. Soon the team ends up losing people and it takes much longer to set things right.

Your preparation for this position will develop by learning the business, learning the nuances of managing the work, the places where you need to showcase and how to deal with issues that can potentially escalate into nuisance value. Being a manager also means protecting the people who you are managing, a good manager will always let work flow within the limitations of the team, earns the respect of the team members and at times of need will get the entire team to put in that little push that is required for the overall growth.

A leader becomes a manager the day he starts looking at objective realities and views his superiors’ position as an object to study and help grow within the organisation.

As I try to compare, not all good leaders are managers but every good manager is a great leader. The difference between good and great is the difference I have tried to cover in this write-up. Hope it did justice to the time you have spent on it.

Wishing you a successful chase to get to the next level in your career.


©Preeyan Abraham

Photos from the Internet.

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Preeyan Abraham is a HR professional. He loves travelling and all the little intricacies that it brings. A foodie, he enjoys cooking for relaxation. A movie buff and music lover, he appreciates simple things in life. He comes from a mix of religious backgrounds that has helped him appreciate all the good things of what all religions have to see. He looks at life as a platform created to perform and give the best.