How Can a Manager Become a Good Leader?

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Good managers are often judged by the quality of the work their teams deliver.
Good managers are often judged by the quality of the work their teams deliver. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Management and leadership are strongly correlated, but certainly distinct, concepts. Someone can have a job as a manager without excelling at leadership. Similarly, an effective leader may not necessarily have the job title of manager or supervisor. Becoming a good manager without strong leadership skills is virtually impossible. Thus, figuring out how to improve your leadership skills is important if you want success in a management role.

Focus on Coaching

One of the main differences between an average manager and an effective leader in the 21st century is a good manager's ability to coach and motivate employees, according to Dr. A.J. Schuler in his "Leadership Self Test." Leaders understand the importance of getting employees involved and empowering them to grow and develop in their positions. Controlling employees and relying solely on the management title to get things done is not good for long-term organizational morale and production.

Prioritize Integrity

Good leaders inspire trust in their followers. Even simple lies or a lack of transparency in key situations can cause a manager to quickly lose trust from his employees. Employees want to follow a manager they believe in, one who inspires them. When employees doubt the integrity, sincerity and commitment of their manager, they are less likely to buy into his vision and take direction.

Long-Term Goals

In his article "What is the Difference Between Management and Leadership?" for The Wall Street Journal, Alan Murray points out that leaders have long-term vision and goals, compared with other managers that have a more short-term focus. Leaders not only formalize their personal goals and their goals for the company, they have a system that prompts employees to set their own long-term goals. Regular accountability for these long-term goals are important as well.

Innovative Thinking

Murray also notes that managers tend to stick with the status quo with operations to avoid making mistakes. Leadership-oriented managers are innovative, have vision and motivate employees to generate ideas to help move the company forward. Companies that are viable in the long term and that thrive financially are constantly pushing the envelope with new technology, new products and new business developments. Leaders cannot operate with fear; they have to inspire employees to take calculated risks.

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