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5 Leadership Tips: Making the Transition from Manager to Leader

5 Leadership Tips: Making the Transition from Manager to Leader

Leadership is difficult to define. There are millions of articles on the subject. I heard one CEO say, “I know it when I see it.”

It is safe to say that leadership is collection of behaviors, an attitude that is not always related to the status or title one holds. This post offers 5 tips on making the transition from manager to leader.


1. Lead BEFORE the promotion.

Act when you see the opportunity. Many people mistakenly believe that they can better show their leadership skills after they receive the promotion, but that’s not how it works. When you show up ready to act, offer solutions, support others and take responsibility for your results, you are leading without the title.

2. Think big picture. Think vision.

Being a manager means you manage tasks, processes and ensure certain jobs get done. You set goals and encourage your team to achieve these goals. Transitioning to a leader requires a deliberate shift in your perspective. You still have to manage, but as a leader, you are focused on inspiring people to follow your vision rather than working for you, to accomplish the goals.

Leaders know how to balance both.

3. Engage people emotionally.

This may sound like a contradiction, when many are told to “leave their emotions at home.” Yet, inspiration happens when people are touched at a deeper level – the level of emotions. As mentioned in tip number 2, you want people to follow your vision. This means you are tapping into your own sense of purpose and can articulate that to your team. You inspire them to follow your lead on making your department the best in the company, for example.

What is your higher purpose as a leader?

4. Celebrate your uniqueness.

Leaders recognize they have something unique that will advance the agenda and bring about a positive change. Leaders are aware of how they show up and the impact they have on their team.

Begin an inventory of your strengths. What makes you unique in your role? Continue to grow this list. Resist getting stuck in your weaknesses. When you focus on your strengths, you are energized and will have a positive influence. When you focus on your weaknesses, you may have a problem focus and become negative.

5. Be willing to grow.

Leaders recognize the power of building relationships. The more comfortable you are relating to a variety of people, the stronger your network of influence. Succeeding as a leader means you embrace personal development.

Be your best, personally and professionally.


These are only 5 tips to make the transition from manage to leader. It is a personal journey and requires awareness and reflection. Check out our article, 5 Steps to Creating an Authentic Leadership Brand.

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About the Author Cynthia Howard RN, CNC, PhD

Performance Consultant. Unleashing potential in leaders and organizations through innovative performance development.