There are very few transitions managers make that are more challenging than moving from leading a function to manning the helm of an entire enterprise. The truth is that life is very different at the top and shifting from the person who deals with the specifics to someone who deals more generally with company objectives can be tricky.

You need to go from being task-oriented to being people-oriented, move beyond analysing data to integrating knowledge from multiple sources, and become preoccupied with developing strategies instead of implementing tactics.

It’s no wonder that a lot of managers who make this leap into a leadership role end up feeling overwhelmed.

Not only is it crucial for you to be prepared to navigate this turning point for the good of your career, but it’s also vital for the unity and performance of the team you’re leading. Not to mention for the sake of retaining your best team members. After all, you’ve heard it said that good people leave bad managers – and this is very true.

I’ve covered the differences between managing and leading in a previous post, but today, let’s unpack how you can evolve from a managerial position to that of a strong leader.

Just Because You Can Do the Job Well, Doesn’t Mean You Can Lead a Team

As a manager, you were a warrior who fought for every sale and milestone. But now you need to make the appropriate changes in your leadership focus and skills so that you can go from the battlefield to the boardroom and take on a more diplomatic role – engaging with range of stakeholders.

To make this transition, you need to acquire new capabilities – and quickly. Thankfully, there are steps that you can take to prepare yourself.


Ask yourself, what can you do to make the individuals in your team feel heard and seen? People want to feel that their ideas are valued and that they have a voice that will be heard. This doesn’t necessarily have to relate to a particular task.


It’s not good enough to say, “Well, if you don’t hear from me, you know that you’re doing a good job.” When employees feel that their contributions go by unnoticed, they tend to get frustrated and ultimately will leave for a job where they’ll feel appreciated.


It’s rare to find an employee who doesn’t have a skill they can transfer or develop, so think about the people in your team and consider what resources and tools you can provide in order to help them grow (and avoid them taking their skills to another business).


When did you last take your team out for coffee? You might read this and skip over it, because it seems far too simplistic. But as a leader, your role is to be people-oriented and that means finding ways to connect with your team in person. This may include adjusting your communication style and approach to get to know people.


There’s tremendous power in expressing gratitude – genuine and specific gratitude that demonstrates an acknowledgement for the contributions that your team makes. The alternative is that you run the risk of them becoming resentful and looking for a different job.


It’s shocking to find out, but did you know that male suicide is the highest killer among men under the age of 50? I can’t stress just how important it is to take the lead and create ways to promote wellbeing.

Go From Metaphorical Bricklayer To Organisational Architect

The reality is that the scope and complexity of the job vastly increases when you go from being a manager to being a leader. And while not every manager can make this transition, I can assure you that without developing your leadership skills, the likelihood that you’ll succeed in your new role decreases dramatically.

Talk to me about how you can develop these skills and evolve into a better leader today.