The single most important tip for aspiring managers is to learn to be a good leader.
Managers vs Leaders
A manager is a functional role that ascribes responsibility for a team and an outcome. It is an organizational assignment that may or may not be based upon skills or a desire for responsibility. Managers often prioritize the pursuit of short-term goals and are willing to sacrifice team growth that is necessary for long-term success. A leader is someone who is well suited to support the individual team members and organize them for maximum benefit of achieving the goals. Leaders help individuals work together in optimal ways for the common objective and are often recognized by their outstanding sustainable results.
Leadership Requires Effort
Although many new managers exhibit raw leadership talent, it is never polished in the beginning. It takes knowledge, hard work, and experience to refine someone into a good leader. Leadership is a skill - one that can be taught but ultimately must be learned through tempering and experience by the individual.
Famous leaders throughout history had to work to become great but they didn’t start out that way. The results they accomplished are what they are remembered for. It is the teamwork they fostered that makes such great successes possible. Managing a staff is far different than leading a team. Knowing the difference is important.
Advice to Managers
Every manager should aspire to become a good leader. It will improve your personal competencies, enhance the skills of whom you manage, strengthen the results that the team can deliver, and improve the overall long-term capability of the organization. Learn the skills, adopt relevant tools, and gain personal experience through mentors. Becoming a good leader is a journey. It starts with understanding your strengths and weaknesses, then those of the team. It requires the knowledge and passion to address behavioral, technical, and process issues that support success.
There are many great leadership programs available. To complement education, mentorship can be a great accelerator. Mentors who are great leaders have a wealth of insights, experiences, and tools that can be passed to others. The journey can be tough and fraught with pitfalls. Having a good mentor can ease the difficulty and help avoid the biggest problems.
Leaders are valued and appreciated because they not only deliver exceptional results, but they do so without causing damage to the people in the organization. They help inspire, lead, and train others to make outstanding contributions. They recognize and celebrate success, protect individuals from caustic situations, help team members grow, and take overall responsibility for failures.
Being a good leader is both tough and tremendously rewarding. If you aspire to be a great manager, then seek to become a capable leader.