There’s a huge difference between management and leadership. In an ideal world, your managers will offer a balance of both – the skills to organise workloads and projects, and the inspiration that drives teams to excel.

Often, employees are promoted to management level in a company because they have been successful in their role, not because they have shown particularly strong management or leadership traits. This means that when they move into management, they fail to live up to expectations. It’s not just new managers that can fall short. Managers who have been in role a long time can become stuck doing things the same old way and slip into complacency. Whether new or established, all managers need the right support to succeed.

Management in its basic sense is about organising people and workloads, and completing all those tasks that keep operations flowing. But what takes managers to the next level? How do you turn them into leaders that drives business growth and inspires innovation? Here’s a look at the attributes of good leadership, and how to transform your managers into leaders…

What Makes A Good Leader?

Management is telling people what to do. Leadership is showing them the goal and supporting them to get there themselves.

If you want your people working at their full potential, coming up with creative solutions and new ideas, and fully engaged with your business goals and values – you need leaders.

Leaders get the best from their teams through empowerment, engagement and trust. They go beyond those day-to-day tasks of administration and organisation to inspire others, encourage creativity and challenge the old way of doing things. Leadership is about connecting the dots between corporate goals and the people who get you there.

Leaders are the ones that will take your business to the next level. They know when to stand back and let their team get on with it, and when to offer support. Managers tend to focus on output; while leaders focus on outcome. In other words, managers place importance on the amount of time that people put in and how much stuff they produce, rather than the result of that. Instead of clocking hours, leaders think about whether their people have converted more leads into sales or delivered more for less.

To become a great leader, you must continue learning and developing your skills, take decisive action when needed and be a good communicator. A great leader shows enthusiasm, commitment, determination and consistency.

You need to use compassion and a human touch. See your employees as real people; get to know what makes them tick, their different attitudes and abilities. Show that you value their contributions and view them as a vital piece of the business machinery, not just another cog grinding out profit.

Some people may seem born to lead, but with the right training and support, anyone can become an inspirational leader.

How To Turn From Manager Into Leader

Leadership and management skills aren’t dependant on your role or position. They are learned behaviours, and behaviour can be changed with the right attitude and support. Here’s some qualities to try to develop or actions that you can put into practice to turn yourself into a truly inspirational leader.


Great leaders empower their people. Empowerment is about trust and engagement. Whereas managers tell their teams what to do and when to do it, leaders trust their teams to get on with the job and produce results. They trust them to make decisions and solve problems. They stand back and give them the space to deliver and be creative. Only when employees feel empowered will they reach their full potential.

Over-managing, or trying to dictate exactly how something is to be done, leaves employees feeling stifled and under-valued. It breeds a fear of failure that will kill any innovation and creativity, leaving complacency and disinterest.

Show teams they are valued and trusted and they will feel more engaged with what the company is trying to achieve. An engaged workforce will invest themselves in your culture, goals and values, and work harder. They will want to stay with your company, perform to their best and achieve enhanced results.


Coaching and mentoring involves so much more than appraisals, reviews and one-to-ones. Good leaders never stop offering support, guidance and inspiration. Their door is always open, not just during a specific pre-booked session.

Coaching lifts performance to a whole new level for the leader and the employees. You have to be a good listener, be regular and consistent and light a fire of passion and ambition in your employees.

It needs to be more than a box-ticking exercise; you have to really invest your time and energy. Done well, coaching can be a rewarding experience for mentor and mentee, inspiring both to keep learning and progressing.


Managers keep operations moving along. Often this means maintaining the status quo; not rocking the boat. Their daily administration responsibilities can become the entire focus and leave little room for looking at the big picture.

It’s important for leaders to challenge, to question, and to disrupt. Leaders are always looking at what we do and how we do it. They ask ‘How can we do it better?’, ‘How can we do it differently?’, ‘What else should we be doing?’, and ‘What should we stop doing?’

For a business to grow and maintain success, you need leaders that don’t just settle for doing things the way they have always been done. They need to shake your people and processes out of their comfort zone and always be looking ahead.


The vast majority of people have a huge amount of talent and ideas within their minds, which often is stilted by the culture in which they work.

Great leaders tap into this talent. They inspire their people to reach higher, to think differently, to shake off complacency and achieve goals. They inspire them to believe in themselves and their abilities.

They create a culture that allows them to try out new ideas without fear of failure. Fear is the enemy of innovation, and it’s the businesses that evolve and innovate that will still be around in 10 years’ time.

It’s also important to adapt your style and behaviour to the situation and person.  Leaders realise there are often multiple solutions to a challenge and encourage people; listening  and giving credit for their ideas.

Managers will get things done. Leaders will inspire the next generation, look to the future and drive sustainable business growth. Becoming a great leader takes compassion, dedication, good communication and tonnes of energy. The good news is that these are all qualities that can be learned and practiced with the right guidance and support.  Empathy offers flexible, bespoke coaching and training to turn your managers into great leaders. To find out more sign up for my free video series on The CPR Method and how it can transform your business…