How to be a leader, not just a manager

lol idk How to be a leader ... yet

I'm trying but I don't have a secret sauce recipe for what makes a leader -- let's start with that level of self-awareness. Does that disqualify me from sharing my thoughts? I don't know that either. But I'm sharing anyway because: 1) I want to learn; and 2) I have felt the difference between someone who wants to empower me to be great (ie having a manager who is a leader) and someone who just helps me manage tasks (ie having a manager who is just a manager).

"When I talk to managers, I get the feeling that they are important. When I talk to leaders, I get the feeling that I am important."

Your future motivational poster probably.

being a boss vs being a leader:

Here are the basics -- bosses boss and leaders lead. The problem with bossing is that it brings your team down and you always have to do it to get work done. The great thing about leading is that it lifts up your team and, as they grow, you have to do less to deliver great work. Here's what it looks like:


  • Drives employees

  • Depends on authority

  • Inspires fear

  • Says "I"

  • Places blame for breakdowns

  • Knows how it's done

  • Uses people

  • Takes credit

  • Commands

  • Says "go"


  • Coaches employees

  • Depends on goodwill

  • Generates enthusiasm

  • Says "we"

  • Fixes breakdowns

  • Shows how it's done

  • Develops people

  • Gives credit

  • Asks

  • Says "let's go"

Growing from managing to leading:

Your management career will grow from focusing on the day-to-day to truly leading by empowering. Here are the skills you will develop along the way:

Day-to-Day Management

These managers focus on building daily management habits essential to success:

  • Commit to holding regular check-in meetings

  • Delegate effectively

  • Document processes and outcomes


These managers are starting to flex their leadership skills by getting the best out of their team:

  • Tap into your team’s curiosity and unleash the power of intrinsic motivation

  • Establish an operational framework by setting clear expectations

  • Provide feedback early and often, and always promote strong and clear communication


These managers are now true leaders and are expected to actively engage in the management and development of their team. Utilize the following leadership best practices:

  • Foster an environment of empowerment

  • Engage in long-term development of direct reports

Leadership Styles:

There are numerous leadership styles, and as you grow into a leadership role, you will gain comfort in knowing which style is needed for that moment and executing each when needed.

Directive: immediate compliance

Effective when there is a crisis and deviations are risky

🚫 Ineffective when employees are underdeveloped (following orders limits learning) or when employees are highly skilled (following orders will breed frustration and resentment)

Authoritative: providing long-term direction and vision for team members

Effective when clear directions and standards are needed, and the leader is credible

🚫 Ineffective when the leader is not credible, people won’t follow the vision if they don’t believe in it

Participative: building commitment and consensus among team

Effective when employees work well together, staff have experience and credibility, and there is a steady work environment

🚫 Ineffective when employees require coordination, there is a crisis, or close supervision is required

Coaching: long-term professional development of team members

Effective when skill needs to be developed and team is motivated

🚫 Ineffective when the leader lacks expertise, there is a crisis, team performance is poor (coaches may persist rather than exit a poor performer).

ok, that's it:

You now know how I like to lead a team. If you already knew all of this, holy heck, that's great. If you found something useful, holy heck, that's great too. If you think I would get value from hearing your perspective on this or if you have questions, you can message me on LinkedIn.