When our students ask if leading and managing are the same thing, the answer is “no!” resounding. Managers are officially appointed and titled employees who take advantage of their legitimate positions of power. Leaders may have no formal authority at all and can be found at all levels of an organization.

A successful mmanager sets goals and ensures their team’s work meets performance standards that tend to be measurable, whereas a leader sets a vision for the future. Managers are often risk averse to ensure that the quality of work they are responsible for is as good as they themselves could get. Leaders, on the other hand, embrace and adopt sets of values ​​that their followers identify with, management and motivate others to take action. They behave in a way that inspires others to follow them. Leaders influence people, while managers manage work.

There are also clear differences between what we expect from managers and what we see from leaders. For managers, work is an activity that people and processes perform. They allocate tools such as budget, plans, and staffing models to produce consistent results. Leaders, on the other hand, are expected to set long term goals and generate an alignment of energy to mobilize forces towards the achievement of these goals. They motivate and inspire people to produce change and ultimately to execute efforts towards common goals. Even before the pandemic, we knew that workers wanted to feel like their job allow them to grow and make a difference.

Yet, in a circular argument that explains a lot, when an individual contributor performs well, is appreciated by their peers, and/or shows strong leadership potential, they are often promoted . . . a boss. This title is meant to indicate that the employee is valued and has authority. Then we tell managers that they are responsible for ensuring the work that a group of people (who may have been their peers the day before) gets done. So apparently they know what to do, but How? ‘Or’ What they do is the question.

To make matters worse, in 2020 the world has drifted away without a plan. As researchers of flexible working arrangements before the pandemic, we can say that what the global workforce did in 2020 was not what any expert would advise. There was no time to create a transition plan, there were often no agreed limits set for the employer or workers, and there was significant confusion about the difference between flex space and flex time. Managers had to wrestle with figuring out how to bring their teams together for basics like communication and bigger issues like ensuring work was completed as needed for organizational success.

Managers who thought their job was to control and activate the productivity of their teams could no longer to see what their teams were working on or how they were doing. There have been significant upheavals as many organizations worked to establish new routines, or trial and error until something worked or people gave up and just accepted the situation. Additionally, often to avoid losing more talent during the Great Recession, those who rose to the occasion and whom the company felt it couldn’t do without were likely to be promoted to positions themselves. of management.

While some companies have made the investment to perfect one’s talent, many others did not. Even before the pandemic, many managers felt they did not have the necessary training do their job and they still lack it. Many set their own performance rules based on what they have observed previously. In their own way, managers tell their teams that they need them to work as hard, efficiently and effectively as they have done because people expect that of them.

Managers may forget that what got them to their positions probably wasn’t because they were successful. Talents that stand out have behaved in a way that stood out, proving they could be successful in achieving their own goals and objectives at work. New managers must remember that the next generation of top talent does not need to be micro-managed; they want a leader who connects employees’ interests and abilities to their own opportunities to shine. They want a manager who can to permit allow them to execute their own goals and objectives.

To enable growth, maximize engagement, and even foster retention, managers must be leaders. Here are four strategies to achieve this.

Acknowledge and accept the situation, then act

Gaining this clarity not only allows you to lead the team through any challenges, but also to be aware of what they need from you besides marching orders. Understand how your professional responsibility has amendedand adapt to new demands, both for you and for those you lead.

For those unclear about shifting expectations between remote, hybrid, and in-person work, improvisation is not the answer. Although you may feel the pressure to keep an eye on your collaborators if you can’t see them, has anyone asked you to? If something has changed and you haven’t been told, that’s a problem. But you don’t have to invent ways to make sure your employees stay focused on their work (for example, busy work or detailed status reports). If you think your superiors want something like that, ask them. Structure and orientation are important, but only micromanagers require control of minor or routine issues. As managers, this means let the results speak for themselvesnot micromanaging day-to-day tasks or proving how busy your team is.

Foster positive deviance

The workers want the opportunity to identify options for themselves and to innovate in the way they do their work. Recognize that there is probably an effective and efficient working pattern, then recognize that some molds are made to be broken, or at least bent. Instead of managing a team by sticking to a schedule or budget, encourage your team to act creatively in ways that recognize they can improve a technique, streamline efficiency, or even achieve better result all together.

If your day-to-day processes are to remain constant, remember that in a world where the majority of companies had little or no experience with remote or hybrid working three years ago, no one is still really expert on how things work best. Whether you’re seeking status updates from your team or rehearsing for a big presentation, why not ask the team for their ideas on how to make things better? Not as part of their job, but rather as an opportunity to try to innovate and show confidence in ideas.

Strengthen your team

If all your fingers are stopping the leaks in the dam, you can’t leave to do new things or other important things. Many managers, especially those new to this role, fear giving up control and end up micromanaging their direct reports.

Delegating tasks is a common method used by managers to break out of their micromanagement habits. Delegation of tasks, however, is different from empowerment of authority. Moving from task delegation to empowerment is the transition from management to leadership. Consider determining which opportunities are low-risk components (to begin with) of overall goal achievement, and then empower a member of your team to make decisions.

Empowerment will also come with responsibility if something goes wrong. Therefore, empowering a team not only distributes the wealth of roles and responsibilities, but engages them to think like owners of personal and/or team success. Not only does this free up the manager for other responsibilities, but it also allows team members autonomy and orientation on their own work and direction in the ultimate achievement of the team’s goals.

be brave

You clearly did something right if you were promoted to manager. While that might mean your code was perfect or your analysis was thorough, chances are you’ve tried something that sets you apart from your peers. You took the time to learn the tricks of the trade, honed your methods, and then gave it a shot. Why stop now?

Managers can be risk averse to mitigate the risks of something frustrating progress or execution, but leaders see opportunities and seize them. Be ready to take the initiative and opportunities to ask “why” and do something different. Subscribers seek inspiration from their bosses. Leaders are not afraid of listen and act feedback, allowing their teams to come up with an inspiring vision.

Managing a team too tightly does not lead to success, it leads to resentment and contempt. In the new age of work, we simply don’t want or need more managers. We implore leaders to show us where to go, then step aside.


Tiffany Danko is an assistant associate professor at USC Bovard College and a rear admiral in the US Coast Guard Reserve. Susan R. Vroman is a lecturer in management at Bentley University and is also a consultant in organizational effectiveness and leadership.