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Top 5 Tips for Making Managers into Better Leaders

A manager has to be a leader, and a leader has to know how to manage. Here are five things you’ll need to do in order to lead and manage effectively.
Image: These top executives learned how to be a better boss by working for bad ones
These top executives learned how to be a better boss by working for bad ones.Photo Illustration by NBC News/Photo by Getty Images

Managers are usually the men and women responsible for coordinating, planning, and organizing activities and tasks within a company. These skills are certainly important, but how managers embrace and apply these skills might be even more important.

If you want to be the best manager you can possibly be, here are five things you’ll need to do.

The Best Managers Are Great Leaders

Some say that managers aren’t leaders, and leaders aren’t managers — that these two jobs are completely different.But the truth is that a manager has to be a leader, and a leader has to know how to manage.

Many people in business believe that the job of a manager should be only about directing or controlling, and that the job of a leader should be only about motivating and setting direction. But we know that this is never the case in any great company.

A manager has to be able to motivate and inspire people. We need leadership in management as much as we need management in leadership.

The Best Managers Communicate

The best way to communicate is to share information with those who need to be in the know. As important as it is for managers to communicate everything with their people, it is just as important to listen. If you are always doing the talking, you won’t have time to listen.

The best managers are great communicators — they make time to speak, but they also make time to listen. When you listen, you can spot problems in your business, you can improve customer service, and you can create collaboration in the work environment.

The Best Managers Know How to Delegate

Effective managers understand that they should not do all the work themselves. If they do, not only do they take on far too much work themselves, they come across as micromanagers to their people. The best managers delegate tasks and responsibilities to the right person with the right talent to get the right job done.

Good managers select employees according to the skills needed for the role, but great managers select people for their talent.

The Best Managers Are Quick Decision Makers

Successful managers are smart, practical, and pragmatic, and they are able to solve problems and make decisions quickly. Doing this takes fast thinking, an ability to gather information quickly, and a willingness to take risks.

But great managers know that when you are able to make decisions quickly, this provides organizations with a very real advantage in the marketplace.

The Best Managers Celebrate Diversity

Great managers understand you have to assess the performance and develop the person — they realize that every person is different and should be treated as such. The best managers celebrate the diversity of their team.

As a manager, you have to be able to recognize people for who they are and who they are not, and it has to be done on an individual basis. What is good for one member of your team might not be good for another.

The best managers make it a best practice to get to know their people for who they are, and assign them tasks that are meaningful and challenging.

Lolly Daskal is the Founder and CEO of Lead from Within, a global leadership, executive coaching and consulting firm based in New York City. Daskal has written thousands of articles and columns for a variety of media, including Inc., Harvard Business Review, Fast Company (Ask the Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today. She's also author of the new book "The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness." Follow Lolly Daskal @lollydaskal.