5 Differences Between Managers and Leaders | How Coaching Develops Leaders

Many professionals have a diverse set of skills but often focus solely on one.

Like using just a wrench from an entire toolbox of options.

It’s common for individuals to start with a singular approach but eventually expand their expertise.

This is when a manager becomes a leader.

The key to this transformation? Executive coaching.

In this article, we’ll look at the difference between managers and leaders, and how coaching helps to turn managers into truly capable leaders.

Let’s jump in.

1. Going Beyond To-Do Lists: Thinking Big and Creative 

I’ve always noticed that managers are brilliant when it comes to ‘doing things right’.

They have a knack for ensuring every task is executed flawlessly.

But leaders? They’re all about ‘doing the right things’.

It’s a subtle difference, but a crucial one.

How Coaching Makes a Difference:

Coaches don’t just want you to tick tasks off a list.

They challenge you to think bigger, to rise above the daily grind.

They nudged you to dream, strategise, and come up with innovative solutions.

It’s like they open a door to a world where you can see the broader picture, not just the puzzle pieces.

A Fun Analogy:

Picture yourself as a painter.

You’re there with your brush, paying close attention to every detail, ensuring each stroke is just right.

Now, imagine transitioning into a gallery curator’s role.

Instead of focusing on individual strokes, you’re now piecing together diverse artworks to create a cohesive and mesmerising collection.

That’s the transformative journey coaching can guide you on.

2. Helping People Grow: Being Kind and Supportive 

Managers often find themselves caught up in the nitty-gritty of tasks.

They’re great at ensuring things get done.

But leaders?

They have this beautiful quality of seeing beyond tasks; they see people and their potential.

How Coaching Changed My Perspective:

Coaching helps you understand the significance of personal growth – both for yourself and those around you.

They plant this seed of mentorship within you, pushing you to be more than just a manager.

To be someone who genuinely cares about the growth of individuals in your team.

Here’s An Analogy That Resonated With Me:

Think of a dedicated gardener.

They don’t just pour water over plants and hope for the best.

They understand the soil’s quality, the amount of sunlight each plant needs, and the care required to ensure each one thrives.

With coaching, I learned to be like that gardener, providing the right environment and support to help my team flourish and reach their full potential.

3. Making Choices: Finding the Right Balance 

Managers take decisions swiftly, aiming to get things moving.

But when I look at leaders, there’s an important difference.

They aren’t just making decisions; they’re making well-thought-out, inclusive choices that consider everyone involved.

How My Coaching Journey Helped:

Coaches play a pivotal role in honing your decision-making skills.

They don’t just teach you to decide faster; they teach you to decide better.

With their guidance, you’ll learn to blend analytical thinking with a dash of intuition and a sprinkle of inclusivity, ensuring every choice you make is both informed and inclusive.

Here’s an Analogy That Made It All Click:

Consider a chef.

They could follow a recipe to the letter, measuring each ingredient precisely.

Or, they could be the kind of chef who tastes, adjusts, and experiments, creating a dish that’s not just by the book but has their unique touch.

Strive to be that second kind of chef in the world of leadership.

4. From Working Alone to Working Together: Teamwork Matters 

I often see managers deeply engrossed in their work, keeping to themselves, driven by the need to get things done.

However, when I think of leaders, they’re normally surrounded by a dynamic team thriving on collaboration.

My Coaching Experience Opened My Eyes:

Coaches help you realise that while individual brilliance has its place, there’s something truly magical about the collective genius of a team.

They instill in you a belief that together, you can achieve more than you could on your own.

A Thoughtful Analogy That Stuck With Me:

Picture a solo musician.

With their instrument, they can create enchanting melodies that captivate our souls.

But now, imagine an entire orchestra.

Each musician, with their unique instrument, comes together to produce a symphony that’s rich, layered, and simply breathtaking.

In the world of leadership, value and champion such harmonious collaborations.

5. Being Strong and Flexible: Key Parts of Leadership 

Managers worry about how to handle setbacks.

They see them as roadblocks, often feeling the stress of faltering.

Leaders don’t just endure setbacks; they embrace them as opportunities to learn and adapt.

How Coaching Reinvented My Approach:

Coaching can be a game-changer.

Like someone handing you a pair of glasses that change the way you see challenges.

Coaches teach resilience, not just to withstand the storms but to dance in the rain.

To find new avenues when the old ones are blocked.

To be strong yet flexible, firm yet adaptable.

The Bamboo Analogy That Resonated With Me:

There’s a reason people admire bamboo.

It’s strong, yes, but its real power lies in its flexibility—it bends with the wind but doesn’t break.

It thrives and grows regardless of the conditions.

Through coaching, you’ll learn to embody this bamboo-like resilience, bending with challenges but never breaking under pressure.

In the journey of leadership, it’s essential to be both resilient and adaptable.

If you’re ready to go beyond merely managing to truly leading, remember that it’s not about having one tool but being equipped with the entire toolkit.

A good manager ensures the work gets done, but a great leader?

They inspire the team to chart new territories and reach for the stars.

Are you a manager wanting to become a leader? I want to help you.

Sign up for Executive Coaching with me today.

Picture of Natalie Brown

Natalie Brown

Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach, and Group CEO at Select Training.

Work with me
Picture of Natalie Brown

Natalie Brown

Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach, and Group CEO at Select Training.

Work with me

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