27 September 2023

From manager to thought leader: Four ways to take the leap

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Ready to take your career to the next level? Dominique Fluker* says the leap from manager to thought leader within an organisation is a coveted next step and essential to continued success and career growth.

Wherever you are in your career, if you’re ambitious and goal-driven, you may have one question in your mind: will I be a thought leader one day and positively impact my company?

Becoming a thought leader often requires a certain amount of being in the right place at the right time, but attaining certain qualities will also spark your growth within the company.

Read our tips below on how to develop into a thought leader from a manager.

Limit multitasking

Most effective managers are excellent communicators and multitaskers, skilfully owning and juggling multiple projects and handling questions of their direct reports.

However, to position yourself as a thought leader, it’s essential to focus on one project to maintain productivity levels and to limit the confusion of task ownership among the team.

In your journey to becoming a thought leader, it’s important to let go of complete control.

You must do this to focus on making the critical decisions that empower the team to propel the organisation forward while letting direct reports focus on what it takes to bring supporting key projects to life.

Build on transparency

Within organisations, senior leaders play a pivotal and vital role in creating, sustaining, and influencing culture.

When the team grows, thought leaders should shape the senior leadership team, which then influences their own respective teams.

It’s essential to set a healthy foundation for transparent communication, which will help you grow from player to coach.

In a survey from Harvard Business School, 70 per cent of employees said they are most engaged when senior leadership communicates openly.

Being honest, vulnerable, and having the courage to own up to things is essential.

A lack of transparency could also create an environment of distrust that can quickly become toxic and difficult to navigate.

Develop a foundation of transparent communication as you foster relationships with the direct reports on your team.

This will, in turn, make them more open and communicative about dealing with the responsibilities you allowed them to take on as part of your delegation.

Learn how to delegate and trust your team

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to stay cognitively engaged in all aspects of your job – and that can limit how your team grows, thrives, and builds new skills.

To scale your operations more effectively, you must build out and develop a talented team that you trust.

Building trust is an essential part of developing effective emotional intelligence, as allowing others to make mistakes is vital for development.

Allowing and encouraging your team to take on new tasks will lighten your workload for you to tackle more critical high-level tasks.

It will also help foster new opportunities for your direct reports that will bolster their own capabilities down the road.

A Gallup study found that companies with more talented individuals who can delegate have more significant growth rates and higher revenue, and they create a more substantial number of jobs.

Your team’s potential to push its limits will grow with each member that you encourage to take on new responsibilities.

Get out of your own way

Don’t let imposter syndrome negatively impact your career growth.

Don’t drag your feet on your career transition.

Focus on thinking through projects, organisational goals, and team structures holistically and strategically.

This will allow you to really focus on thinking strategically for your entire team and help your direct reports solve their most pressing problems.

You can’t do it all alone.

*Dominique Fluker is a writer at Glassdoor.

This article first appeared at glassdoor.com

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