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Why you should focus on becoming a leader first

In today's world, there is a common belief that becoming a manager is the only way to grow professionally. However, this is not entirely true. Leadership is an important trait that is highly valued by companies, especially in recent times. Therefore, it is important to understand the differences between leadership and management, the qualities that define a good leader, and why you should focus on becoming a leader and developing leadership skills first.

Leadership is defined as the action of leading a group of people or an organization. It is an action-oriented role where the focus is on doing. Management is defined as the process of dealing with people or controlling people. Management is a process oriented role where the focus is on producing results through a structure and group of direct reports.

Leadership development is crucial for individuals and managers aspiring to become effective leaders in their respective domains.

Leadership = What
Management = How
become a leader

Leadership requires many actions and behaviors to be exhibited. People are willing to follow leaders even if they don't report to them. Become a leader who inspires trust, demonstrates integrity, and fosters collaboration. Great leaders exhibit the following behaviors:

Advancing Leadership Skills: A Guide to Leadership Development

1. Seeking to solve complex organizational-level problems without being told to do so demonstrates a commitment to personal growth and professional development.

2. Holding themselves accountable to make decisions even when there's lack of clarity.

3. Willingness to build out a vision and motivate others even when there is ambiguity is a crucial aspect of leadership development.

4. Building strong non-transactional relationships and trust for the long-term.

5. Leading by example by seeking 360 feedback to learn from mistakes and grow themselves.

6. Being inclusive, valuing everyone's opinions and making others feel heard and seen.

7. Empowering others to go do their best work while providing the required support.

8. Influencing by showcasing the value and impact to all parties involved.

9. Adapting to oncoming changes and helping their teams be flexible through these shifts.

10. Valuing others through the lens of empathy and humility.

Leadership is a state of mind. It is not a position!

Being a good manager also requires behaviors to build high output teams. These behaviors and actions required are in addition to the leadership skills.

1. Setting clear expectations with individuals, holding them accountable and giving deserved recognition.

2. Matching people to their strengths to keep them motivated.

3. Showing care towards the team and giving them opportunities to grow.

4. Providing timely and honest feedback with facts and compassion.

5. Unblocking the tea by communicating important information and helping them build relationships with important stakeholders.

Not all good leaders are good managers, and not all good managers are good leaders.

Leadership and management require different skills, but they work together in a complimentary fashion. Companies need both to succeed. Good managers need to be good leaders to find long term leadership success. Become a leader who can navigate challenges, inspire teams, and drive innovation. Great leaders can build out the next generation of good leaders.

Focus on leadership first to build out a fulfilling career.


If you want to hear in depth on this topic, check out my podcast where I share my personal experiences around this topic.


Do you want to become an inspiring leader and have a fulfilling career? If you want someone to help bring the best out of you, I can help. Contact me to set up an introductory consultation.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is leadership development important for personal growth?

Leadership development is crucial for personal growth because it enhances self-awareness, improves decision-making skills, and increases resilience. It also empowers individuals to take initiative, influence others positively, and navigate complex situations effectively, all of which are key components of personal and professional development.

How does becoming a leader contribute to professional success?

What are the key differences between leadership and management?

What are some practical steps to focus on becoming a leader first?

How does leadership development benefit organizational effectiveness?

Are there any common misconceptions about leadership?

What role does self-awareness play in effective leadership?

How can aspiring leaders overcome challenges on their leadership journey?

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