This article was updated on September 14, 2018.
When you empower your managers to lead, you can build a strong foundation for business growth. But it's important to remember that "empowering" your managers is different from just promoting them into positions where leadership is required.
In general, businesses promote top performers or employees who get results and surpass targets. As such, you may promote your best salesperson to sales manager. While this may sound like a no-brainer, this type of promotion process can sometimes lead to negative results. After all, a sales manager has a different function from a salesperson: A manager is one step removed from customers, supporting the sales team and defining and communicating sales strategy to them. As such, a good salesperson and a good sales manager not only have different functions, they may also have different required skills, reporting protocols and more.
In this scenario, the promoted salesperson would need to learn about the sales manager role, which will take some time. Meanwhile, you've lost a master salesperson and received an apprentice manager in exchange. But there's more: A manager also needs to lead, and leading is a higher-level skill than managing.
As leadership expert Steve Keating explains in his blog, "You manage stuff like budgets, inventories and buildings but you lead people. The skill sets are different and more importantly the mindsets are different, in fact, they are completely different. Some people can master both skill sets but that's less common than many people think."
Here are four steps to help a new manager become a leader:
1. Discuss and Define Realistic Expectations With the New Manager
Since it's challenging enough to make the transition into a management role, you should focus on that first. The new manager will have to master their new tasks, goals and relationships. This type of transition requires time and lots of learning.
2. Monitor and Support the New Manager's Process
This means checking in regularly, offering help as needed and perhaps pairing up the new manager with a mentor who has more experience. You can support the new manager's transition into a management role with formal training and casual weekly check-ins.
3. Communicate the Big, Strategic Picture to Your New Manager (Early and Often)
Once your manager has an understanding of this strategy, you should make sure that they clearly communicates this information with their team. Managers deliver on results and targets, while leaders offer direction and vision. Letting your managers understand your organization's overall strategy and vision can help empower them to start leading themselves.
4. Gradually Involve the Manager in the Creation and Modification of Your Business Strategy
When a manager feels some ownership of the business strategy, he or she can move from manager to leader. Management is about controlling budgets and overseeing tasks, while leadership is about unleashing someone's potential, engaging them around strategic priorities and driving a team forward in a shared direction.
In order to empower your managers to become leaders, you must offer lots of patience and constant support. The end result will be individual and business growth.
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