Managers Become Leaders with a Shift in Focus

By Brian Braudis

Brian BraudisSenior leadership at the corporate headquarters of a large retail chain was entertaining succession planning. What started out as an exercise turned into a sweeping new protocol for transitioning managers into leaders.

For the organization, it’s vitally important to get this right. Managers sometimes trip on their way up. Senior leaders can mitigate stumbling with an aggressive strategy.

Managers are typically promoted into leadership roles with the thought that their effectiveness will continue; but rather than assume, senior leaders are wise to put into place a two-pronged approach. The first prong is to place the right candidate. The old cliché applies: “Hire for attitude and train for ability.”

The second prong is to cultivate the well-selected candidate. This involves extensive training opportunities and environments that promote growth. New leaders typify the shift from a working manager to a learning leader. Click To Tweet

Transitioning managers into leaders should ideally start long before the switch is flipped. Early on, candidates should be “groomed” through extensive training, cross-program experiences and leadership development. Preferably the training, experience and development will culminate by equipping the candidate-leader with a view and an understanding of the “leadership landscape.”

Placing an incumbent leader in a productive environment is less precise.

The context of leadership can be polarizing, ambiguous, volatile and complex; so out of necessity, strong support systems must be in place. A network of colleagues to model the way and offer reassurance along with mentors, coaches and careful monitoring will serve as the classic challenge/support system to promote a productive transition while cultivating new leaders.

New Leaders Must Shift in Five Broad Areas: The biggest difference to grasp for new leaders is the change in role that entails a focused shift in five broad areas:

1. Production to Outcomes: The immediate challenge for managers is to shift their thinking and operating from a “making widgets” mindset to an influencing outcomes mindset. It is inherent in the leadership process that the leader influences the outcome. As the new leader begins working with department heads and stakeholders they need to be operating from a new perspective, a long-term view with idea of short-term, stepping stone implementation. The role of the leader is to influence the long-term with organizational strategy in mind.

Rather than making and counting widgets, a new leader must have both eyes toward efficiencies now and necessary adaptations toward the future.

2. Specialist to Visionary: Managers thrive as specialists. They know their department, their people, and their function. That’s not enough for a leader. Leaders must know the language of all departments. They must be able to translate information, patterns and trends from departments into the language of efficiencies, profit and direction. The vision of the organization is up to the leadership. No one else will take the reins here. Leaders must harness what is known now with the trends they see in the telescope and provide direction. Vision can be complex and multifaceted, but nothing can beat everyone pulling in the same direction. This is one big advantage that is difficult for competitors to duplicate.

3. From One to All: Managers have the responsibility to manage the day-to-day on the floor. They are embedded with the staff. Leaders don’t manage things as much as they lead direction. Whereas a manager focuses on employee engagement, a leader has a focus of workforce engagement.

A new leader may have lingering “departmental biases” that show up as baggage that slows meetings and other processes down. The classic mistake is for new leaders to over-manage and under-lead, especially their previous function. Colleagues need to give the new leader their patience while he cultivates an open-minded shift from managing one department to serving all departments in the organization.

4. Solving Problems to Seeing Problems Before They Develop: Strictly speaking, managers and leaders are keen problem solvers. But one of the finer points of leadership—and where leaders earn their keep—is seeing problems before they happen. If a leader can identify slowed growth or a decline in earnings early on and proactively put things in place to avoid the dreaded “workforce planning,” this “seeing” can save everyone.

5. Worker to Learner: Leadership is not about knowing—it’s about learning. New leaders typify the shift from a working manager to a learning leader. As they work to cultivate an open mind and flexibility, they must also demonstrate a commitment to relentless self-improvement—that means applying continuous learning toward competency, excellence and greatness.

When new developing leaders are hand selected, cultivated and afforded the organizational backing necessary for success, it’s more than an exercise in succession. It’s a testament to a leadership strategy and the state-of-the-art demonstration of a leadership culture. Over time the effort builds into the ultimate competitive advantage.

Brian Braudis is a highly sought-after human potential expert, certified coach, speaker and author of High Impact Leadership: 10 Action Strategies for Your Ascent. He has also authored several audio programs from executive leadership development to stress management. Brian believes “leadership” is a verb not a title. Brian’s passionate and inspiring presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of your position or role everyone is a leader. For more information on Brian Braudis, please visit: www.TheBraudisGroup.com.

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7 Secrets That Increase Your Leadership Impact

By Brian Braudis

 A major concern for senior executives is “bench strength”—that is, the quantity and quality of up-and-coming, potential leaders who are in the pipeline. The problem is that too often these would-be leaders “hold back, shrink and play small.” One CEO recently said, “The potential leaders in our pipeline need to show up, step up, and increase their leadership impact.”

True. An organization is only as strong as its leadership.

In today’s climate of unprecedented change, intense competition and more demanding customers, leaders can’t hold back or shrink. Team members need leadership to model the way because all they see in this modern-day complexity is uncertainty and that leads to anxiety. Team members are looking to leadership for certainty, definitive guidance, vision and a solid commitment. This is an opportunity for leadership impact.

Here Are 7 Secrets to Increase Your Leadership Impact:

1. Shift the Energy of Your Team: With composure, increase and elevate your communications. Share your higher perspective and calm the anxiety with your increased presence and obvious commitment. Neutralize the teardown effect of uncertainty and anxiety. Shift the energy of your team toward purpose. You can’t just remove the deconstructive nature of negativity without replacing it with something. Use purpose to drive the conversation. Strategically use each day to keep your organizational purpose in front of your team members. Talk about your mission. Get them excited about growing and serving your clients, customers and stakeholders. Share the growth you see and the future you envision. When your team has a growth mindset it’s only natural that your organization will grow.

There will always be uncertainty but when you demonstrate resolute certainty in your commitment to your team, anxiety drops, morale increases, team members take note and follow your lead. An organization is only as strong as its leadership. Click To Tweet

2. Collaborate: Bigger results come from bigger efforts. Instill collaboration within divisions and across programs. Use your leadership presence to convert dissonance to connectedness, silos into solidarity, problems into innovations, risk into reward and daily efforts into a dramatically improved future. Set the behavioral norm by becoming known as the leader interested in organizational successover individual success. When you execute on a higher and larger perspective, you instantly increase leadership impact.

3. Cultivate Creativity: Open the floodgates of creativity by asking more questions. The days of one leader with all the answers are past. In all likelihood your team is bursting with new ideas. You don’t have to be Michelangelo, just ask powerful questions and be patient.—the innovation will come pouring out in the discussions. Team members are intimately familiar with problems. They simply need you to provide them the space to contemplate how today’s problems can become tomorrow’s innovations.

4. Use Influence Not Power: No one likes a pompous leader. Rather than relying on the shortsighted and limiting power of position, reap the long-term benefits that come from building trust and influence. If you use power, good people will leave you and other people will get you.

When you rely on the external power of your leadership position you not only expose weakness in yourself, you build weakness in others by forcing them to acquiesce, stifling their growth and the potential for their unique contribution. Ultimately, the entire relationship is weakened. Defensiveness ensues, low trust follows and potential for cooperation is lost—smothered by negative emotion. Fight the imprudent impulse to command, and direct and invest in the higher, more refined skills of finesse, influence and persuasion.

Patience, finesse, influence and persuasion are the building blocks of increased impact.

5. Promote Daily Progress: Leaders are only deemed successful if they get results and they get those results through working with people. The only way people do great things is by focusing on their strengths and possibilities. Leaders set the stage for this focus.

On any given day your team’s efforts will be influenced by a mix of perceptions, emotions, and motivations that can either pull them to higher performance or drag them down. Setbacks can send team spirit spiraling downward to the point where frustration and disgust take over.

Leaders have tremendous influence in promoting daily progress by ensuring team members have the environment they need to make steady progress and maintain momentum. Avoid the toxicity of high pressure, punitive and judgmental measures that constrain momentum.

Rather, set clear goals for meaningful work. Provide autonomy and promote ownership of the outcomes. Nourish your team’s efforts through affiliation, showing respect, words of encouragement and minimizing daily hassles.

6. Build a Body of Behavior: Be more of a model than a critic. Eschew the all-too-common “Killer Cs” that will keep you in the weakness of victim mode. Negativity will rob you of energy, initiative and impact.

Avoid These Killer Cs

  • Criticizing
  • Complaining
  • Competing
  • Comparing
  • Colluding
  • Contending

Don’t criticize. Talk about what went well. Show your team what is possible. Add energy to the context. Be consistent. Your team is faced with being productive in spite of problems and hassles. When they know that they can consistently count on you for support and direction, momentum skyrockets.

7. Focus on What is Right, Not Who is Right: Team members rely on leaders to create an environment that is impartial, where everyone has the same opportunities that are based on merit. Don’t take sides. Use conflict to demonstrate your commitment to organizational success. Model a higher perspective that lifts others from their petty preoccupations and carries them above the fray. Be a stronghold trailblazer that guides the upward purpose of your team.

The unique and distinct actions of a leader create ripples that increase and spread delivering ever-increasing impact that can be felt within and among teams. The greatest impact however, is felt industry-wide as a unique and distinct competitive advantage that is difficult, if not impossible for others to duplicate. When you employ these seven secrets and increase your leadership impact, you set up your entire team for success.

Brian Braudis is a highly sought-after human potential expert, certified coach, speaker and author of High Impact Leadership: 10 Action Strategies for Your Ascent. He has also authored several audio programs from executive leadership development to stress management. Brian believes “leadership” is a verb not a title. Brian’s passionate and inspiring presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of your position or role everyone is a leader. For more information on Brian Braudis, please visit: www.TheBraudisGroup.com

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