Developing a leadership mindset, whatever your level, will get your career heading in the right direction. By Lisa Orrell, speaker and leadership coach.

The confusion between the roles of a manager and a leader has tripped up more than one business professional. Is ‘the person in charge’ automatically a leader? If you’re managing other people, are you also leading them? What is the difference between the two?

According to current wisdom, managers are principally administrators - they write business plans, set budgets, monitor progress and manage people - but sometimes without an effective leadership mindset. Leaders, on the other hand, get organisations and people to change.

Most business executives and owners have a mix of management and leadership skills. And quite often both are necessary to run a successful team.

Be a leader at any level

Here is a key point that can settle confusion for you. Even if you manage just one person, regardless of what your role or title is, you are also a leader. Even if you currently manage no one, you can still take on leadership roles such as heading up a project or volunteering to plan the company’s annual picnic. So whether you are actually in a true management role with employees, or assuming a short term leadership role, cultivating a leadership mindset is critical.

Don’t think leadership is something that only occurs once you’re in an executive role. Your leadership mindset needs to start on day one of your very first job.

Not every person in a company wants to be a senior executive or ‘lead’ the whole business. But you should embrace some fundamental, effective leadership qualities within your management style.

Have you ever heard this saying: ‘People don’t leave companies; they leave managers’? You don’t want to be the leader people choose to leave.

10 differences between a manager mindset and leadership mindset

Leadership skills are flexible, responsive to change, and future-oriented.

  • leaders set a standard of excellence – managers set a standard for performance
  • leaders seek employee commitment – managers seek employee compliance
  • leaders are proactive – managers are reactive
  • leaders create change – managers maintain the status quo
  • leaders take risk – managers are risk averse
  • leaders are passionate – managers are controlling
  • leaders create followers – managers have subordinates
  • leaders use personal charisma – managers rely on bestowed authority
  • leaders give credit – managers assign blame
  • leaders care about what’s right – managers care about being right.

Managers who don’t choose to embody important leadership qualities suffer. And their employees and companies suffer.

Be a manager who blends management skills with a leadership mindset, and you will succeed in any role at any level your career takes you to.

Lisa Orrell is a speaker and a leadership coach. This article is contributed by CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) and it first appeared in Velocity, CIMA's online bi-monthly magazine for its students. Visit Advertisement