Transforming from manager to leader

For newly-appointed CAEs, making the transition from manager to leader can be an exciting, yet daunting move. Becoming a leader is a great achievement but it is not without its challenges. A 2011 report by the CIPD revealed that 56% of UK leaders had transitioned into a leadership role in the previous five years, yet only 22% of UK organisations had implemented programmes to ensure the transition process was smooth. According to the report, this is a major reason why many leaders still find leadership transitions problematic.  

New CAEs may be required to hit the ground running, however, moving up into a leadership role can take a great deal of time and energy, so it’s essential to start the transformation process early to maximise your chances of success.

The distinction between managing and leading

First, it’s important to be clear on the differences between management and leadership. In John P. Kotter’s book, What Leaders Really Do, Kotter highlights three main differences:

  • Leaders set the direction and develop a vision of the future; managers set goals and allocate resources.
  • Leaders align people, communicate the vision and ensure it is achieved; managers organise others, develop job descriptions, recruit and delegate.
  • Leaders motivate and inspire; managers control, solve problems and monitor results.

Managers are often focused on short-term tasks or goals, and could be described as organised, informed, tactical and instructional. Leaders, on the other hand, focus on long-term goals, and would more often be described as strategic, innovative, dynamic and influential.

The CIPD states that leadership and management are linked and often used interchangeably, however, “at the heart of many interpretations, leadership is deemed to involve developing an initial vision and inspiring others with an overview of how that vision may be achieved, while management involves translating the vision into reality by…