Manager to Leader – 7 Things That Should Change

June 14, 2012

Good morning!  We are having a nice spell of beautiful weather here in Michigan, just a tad dry though.  Parts of my yard now crunch as I walk across it.

Now, I believe that a manager is a leader – just a different type. However, for the sake of this post I will go along with others who make the distinction.  What I am really talking about is that transition from overseeing a specific department / function within an organization to a role where you have oversight of large parts of or even the entire organization.

That transition is hard for most of us. We want to keep doing the things that got us to this point instead of learning the new skills that are required to lead at that level.  While it seems obvious, it seems so many people miss the fact that leading at that level requires an entirely new skill set.  What is especially difficult is when you are a functional head and sit on an enterprise level leadership team and understanding that you have to take off the functional leader hat and put on the enterprise leader hat.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review blog, author Michael D. Watkins identifies seven things that have to change when you move from being a functional leader to an enterprise leader.

“All the shifts a function head must make when first becoming an enterprise leader involve learning new skills and cultivating new mind-sets. Here are the shifts and what each requires executives to do:

1. Specialist to Generalist

Understand the mental models, tools, and terms used in key business functions and develop templates for evaluating the leaders of those functions.

2. Analyst to Integrator

Integrate the collective knowledge of cross-functional teams and make appropriate trade-offs to solve complex organizational problems.

3. Tactician to Strategist

Shift fluidly between the details and the larger picture, perceive important patterns in complex environments, and anticipate and influence the reactions of key external players.

4. Bricklayer to Architect

Understand how to analyze and design organizational systems so that strategy, structure, operating models, and skill bases fit together effectively and efficiently, and harness this understanding to make needed organizational changes.

5. Problem Solver to Agenda Setter

Define the problems the organization should focus on, and spot issues that don’t fall neatly into any one function but are still important.

6. Warrior to Diplomat

Proactively shape the environment in which the business operates by influencing key external constituencies, including the government, NGOs, the media, and investors.

7. Supporting Cast Member to Lead Role

Exhibit the right behaviors as a role model for the organization and learn to communicate with and inspire large groups of people both directly and, increasingly, indirectly.”

These are some significant shifts – especially in our mindsets.  So if you are making that transition or you are about to promote someone to an enterprise leader, you need to understand just what a shift must take place in your thinking.  In my years of working, I have seen too many people who were stars at one level, become frustrated and fail when they move to the next by not realizing that what got them there does not work in their new role.

Blessings on your day today!
BG