Managers can become Leaders

Managers can become Leaders

Can managers really become leaders? To get the best from any team, you need to transition from being a manager and become a leader.

Getting extraordinary performance out of ordinary people – Sir John Harvey-Jones


Managers aspire to be great leaders yet they fail to make a successful transition. There are many leaders out there that are still not leaders, and we all know who they are. How, you may ask? Well, we usually don’t want to work for them, that’s how.

It may sound a little harsh, but they don’t listen to us because they believe they know everything and others don’t have anything of value to add. Then we don’t listen to them because we feel they don’t have a clue of what any of us need –as employees, customers, or investors. It’s a cycle of doom for all involved.


The seven seismic shifts


To make the transition successfully, executives must navigate a tricky set of changes in their leadership focus and skills. According to Juan Carlos Carrillo, there are seven seismic shifts you need to make in order to become a leader.

  • Specialist to Generalist
    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.
  • Analyst to integrator
    Analyst to integrator

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

    • Understand how to analyse 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.
  • Problem solver to agenda setter
    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
  • Warrior to diplomat
    Warrior to diplomat

    • Proactively shape the environment in which the business operates by influencing key external constituencies, including the government, Non-Government Organisations, the media, and investors.
  • Supporting cast member to lead role
    Supporting cast member to lead role

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


In closing Making the transition means a change to your perspective. Leaders must move out from the wings and get used to living on center stage in the full spotlight. To make the transition, managers must acquire new capabilities quickly. And though what got them to the top may no longer be enough, there are steps that they and their organisations can take to prepare them to succeed


Question: What is your experience with transitioning from Manager to Leader? Do you have any words of wisdom you would like to share? Leave your comment below or contact us at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *