The Relationship Between Leaders and Managers

Developing as a Leader Requires You to Align Your Values and Actions

Business woman leading a team meeting
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It is tough to be in the one in charge. Expectations of you are high, and those that report to you call for not only management skills but leadership abilities and personal values that require time and experience to build.

Management is a description of a job, in which the people that perform the job plan, organize, staff, direct and control all aspects of work that are accomplished in an organization. Leadership is less tangible, where the influential qualities of a person such as communication, persuasion, empathy, vision, and many other abilities are used to shape the thoughts and actions of others.

You have to be able to lead as a manager and manage as a leader. The skillsets for each concept are related to each other, in that you should practice both to be effective.

Managerial Skills

The promotion to manager is a significant time in a person's life. Most people have been working for some time before they are given a chance to lead, and it can be a terrifying transition for some.

Generally, there is no reason to be apprehensive about a promotion to manager, because you will need to have demonstrated at least the following skills to be considered for the position.

You should be technically proficient in most or all of the aspects of the work that you will be managing. This gives you the benefit of having your employees regard you as someone that knows how to do the work while managing the workforce and productivity.

You'll need to focus on your interpersonal skills to be able to function in a management position. Some example of interpersonal skills are active listening and communicating. Of all the skills that are considered vital for a manager to have, these two stand out as the most important. People need to be listened to and clearly communicated with to be managed effectively.

A good manager should be able to plan strategically. You'll need to plan schedules, coordinate work, give feedback sessions, meetings with higher management, and many other activities. With the ability to plan comes the ability to expertly manage your time.

Time management is the ability to identify, track, and prioritize your work; then, you control the work and time by scheduling the work you need to do. The crucial ability in time management is discipline. You need to have the discipline to keep yourself on the schedule you create.

Leadership Qualities

There are many leadership qualities discussed in multitudes of studies, papers, and theories. These qualities can be used at different times based on the managerial style and skills of the leader, and the situations that they find themselves in.

Of the many qualities attributed to good leaders, empathy stands out as one of the most desirable characteristics of a leader. Empathy is an ability to identify and understand another's thoughts and feelings.

A popular term used to describe empathy in leaders is emotional intelligence—the ability to discern and manage emotions of oneself and others. Emotional intelligence is associated with highly effective leaders because they can adapt their communications and methods based on how people react.

Integrity is vital to someone in a leadership position. The ability and discipline to stick to a code of morals and values are essential to the success of leaders. You don't need to look hard to find examples of people in positions of leadership demonstrating their lack of integrity, or the effect it had on others.

Effective leaders have great communication skills. They are able to clearly voice what is needed and do not mind letting others know why. They are personable in nature and communicate sincerity in their actions and decisions.

Leaders and managers should hold their employees accountable for their actions. More importantly, they should hold themselves accountable for their own actions. Leaders should operate at a higher standard than the people they lead, setting an example for them to follow.

The characteristics of effective leaders are aligned with values that the majority of people deem important. This alignment and positioning of values creates a relationship between leaders and followers that contribute to the leader's effectiveness in influencing others positively.

Leaders should not have to give orders—through value positioning, they are able to persuade people to want to do something. When people are energized in this manner, they are more creative and productive. Inspired employees are more able to overcome obstacles and create results.

Combine Your Skills and Values

As you move into management positions, you'll notice that there will be times when you need to be inspirational to motivate your employees. Other times you may need to tell them exactly what they are going to do. Some employees will strongly resist, while others will buy-in to the work and methods you are selling them.

Different techniques will work at different times, and with different people. As you transition from manager to leader, work to discern the different methods that work for you and the personalities of the employees you have.

Learn to flex between leading and managing while aligning your values with those of your employees. When you can do this, you'll have taken large steps toward a more productive, happy and creative workforce while establishing yourself as a leader/manager that can be trusted.