From Manager To Leader

Ask anyone and they'll tell you. There's a difference between managers and leaders.

Ask them what that difference is and they may have a bit more difficulty. Suddenly the words become amorphous and undefined. Somehow leadership is an intangible - a charismatic component that some people have and others simply don't. That's why, according to the ubiquitous "they", it is such a rarity.


The difference between being a manager and being a leader is simple. Management is a career. Leadership is a calling.

You don't have to be tall, well-spoken and good looking to be a successful leader. You don't have to have that "special something" to fulfill the leadership role.

What you have to have is clearly defined convictions - and, more importantly, the courage of your convictions to see them manifest into reality.

Only when you understand your role as guide and steward based on your own most deeply held truths can you move from manager to leader.

Whether the group you oversee is called employees, associates, co-workers, teammates or anything else, what they are looking for is someone in whom they can place their trust. Someone they know is working for the greater good - for them and for the organization. They're looking for someone not only that they can - but that they want to - follow.

Because it is only when you have followers -people who have placed their trust in you - that you know you have moved into that leadership role. And the way you see it is that your organization is transcending all previous quality, productivity, innovation and revenue achievements. You're operating at such a high level of efficiency that you're giving budget back to the corporation - and you're still beating your goals.

You're achieving what you always dreamed could be achieved. And not only that, but it's actually easier than you thought.

Because you're a leader. Because the classic command and control management model - which, contrary to popular belief still applies even in our most progressive 21st century companies - is no longer in play. Sure, controls are in place. Sure, you're solving problems that arise.

But it's not just you alone. You have the people in whom you've put your trust - and who have happily and safely reciprocated - to help you create organizational success.

First Steps

Where to start? Begin by discovering exactly what your convictions are. Clarify and codify for yourself what you believe in. Then, take a nice step back and see how those beliefs are playing out in the organization as it stands today.

Don't start with an organizational assessment based on the numbers or your opinions about others. This is not about "them." This is all about you.

Ask yourself:

  • What is important to me? What are my values, beliefs, ethics?
  • How am I demonstrating those values, beliefs and ethics every day?
  • Is the larger organization designed to support my values, beliefs and ethics?
  • Where are the disconnects within my immediate organization and for myself with the larger enterprise?
  • What can I do to change how I behave with my immediate organization to demonstrate my belief in them?
  • What additional assistance do my employees need to succeed and how can I ensure that they get everything they need and more to create personal and organizational success?

Realistically, you'll go through this process not once, but many, many times.

This is a periodic reality and cross-check to see how you're doing in your own context and, as you begin making changes, in the larger context.

Because, while you can and should expect yourself and your immediate organization to make changes, you cannot - and should not - expect the larger organization to immediately respond or follow suit. This is a personal journey designed to assist you in being more - and helping those whose lives you touch to be more. Give the organization time. It'll get there. It's just a little bit slow.

What's Next?

As you identify your convictions and begin aligning your behaviors with those convictions, you are going to need to take steps to build a collaborative culture based on where you're going.

To do that, seek input from your employees about what they need and what their dreams are for their jobs and the larger organization. (They have them, you know). Talk to internal and external customers and suppliers about their needs. Find out what more and what else you can be and do to create success.

Enroll and engage in conversation and communication. Sit back. Listen. Take in as much as you can. Look for trends and themes. Find out where the possibilities are - the connects and disconnects that you can effect.

Be more. Be all those things you always believed about yourself - and usually bring to the rest of your life.

Leaders aren't made or born. Leadership is a choice - a belief in and commitment to everything that is good and noble within you.

Be a leader.

About the author:
Leslie Kossoff is an internationally renowned executive adviser, writer and speaker and one of the most intelligent and perceptive voices on executive and managerial leadership today. She advises clients in both the private sector ( and the public sector (

Related Categories

Related Topics

Related Articles

5 Skills of Successful Leaders

This presentation provides insights into 5 key leadership skills - employee empowerment, change management, team building, communications and training. Very Good Read!

A Guide to Transformational Leadership

This report defines the transformational leader and provides an indepth guide on transformational leadership.

Career Management Advice - Get a Life, Not a Job

 The new rules of career management - understand the new employment reality and act. Now!

CIO as Innovation Leader

This presentation discusses the role and responsibilities of an innovation leader - do CIOs fit the bill?

CIO Responsibilities and Challenges

 This report discusses the responsibilities, reporting relationships, tenure, and challenges of Chief Information Officers in the federal government. Excellent discussions that can help guide the CIO role even in the private sector.

Creating People Advantage

This report presents the findings of a survey on 22 key human resource topics. It also provides case studies on specific company initiatives and a supplement on fostering diversity for business value (not just for legal or social reasons)

e-Book - How Leadership Drives Employee Performance

This research study explores the impact of leadership on employee performance. An excellent discussion for the CIO who must understand how to lead teams that deliver business results. (500 pages)

e-Book: Leadership and Ethics

This book provides an in-depth look at ethics for leaders. It explores the issue of ethical leadership from multiple perspectives, and connects it to the different drivers of business from immigration, information technology, to globalization and eve...

Effective IT Leadership

This paper makes the case for IT governance for effective IT value. The authors argue that IT governance provides a good structured approach to management decisions but lacks the creativity provided by good leadership to really be effective. Hence, 

Engage Employees and Boost Performance

 "The more difficult challenge for companies is capturing the hearts and minds of good, reliable employees who are not stars but who are significantly more productive when engaged."

Engaging and Enabling Employees for Success

This whitepaper argues that unmotivated employees create problems but motivated employees unable to turn their enthusiasm into action can be even worse! The solution? Connect employee surveys with business strategy; measure employee engagement but do...

How to Improve Leadership Effectiveness?

What skills and traits make a leader more effective? What does it mean to be effective? This presentation answers these questions and provides guidance to CIOs on how to lead their teams.

Introduction to Leaderhip Ethics

A quick introduction to ethics in leadership - what are ethics? why are they important? how to behave ethically?

Leader Versus Manager

This cheat sheet provides a quick reference to differentiate between leader versus manager.

Leadership Case Study - Corporate Transformation

This case study highlights leadership lessons from a corporate turnaround - what are the leadership qualities that can transform an organization from a failure to sure success? Read On!

Managing IT in an Economic Downturn

 How the Economic Downturn Is Impacting IT Leaders and Their Organizations.

The Future of Corporate IT

How to Prepare for Five Radical Shifts in IT Value, Ownership, and Role? Read On>>

The ROI of Executive Coaching

 This article explores the effectiveness of executive coaching and debates the use of return on investment aka ROI as a meaningful measure of coaching effectiveness

Posted on 06/03/2009 by

From Manager To Leader author sourabhhajela



For ThoughtLeader

CIO Index

Our Focus is On Your Agenda

CIO Index is the world's largest professional network for CIOs - of the CIO, for the CIO, by the CIO. 

Over 75,000 CIOs and other IT Executives use CIO Index to Learn, Network and Share.


Cioindex, Inc.

  • (+1) 800-309-3550
  • Mon - Fri 9:00am - 5:00 pm
  • 375 North Stephanie St., Ste 1411, Henderson, NV 89014