How to Be a Leading Manager, Part 2: Using Your Head vs. Following Your Heart

Welcome back for part 2 of How to Be a Leading Manager, where I will discuss the importance of synchronizing your head with your heart when making important business decisions.

There are countless articles available online that help distinguish managers from leaders, most of which paint mangers in a negative light. Management and leadership traits need to operate cohesively as one unit in order to achieve optimal results, and I believe that there are characteristics of both traditional managers and leaders that are needed to achieve those results.

You may be asking yourself what characteristics set the two apart? Or perhaps you’re simply wondering which category you fall into. Instead of looking at management and leadership as two separate entities, redirect your thinking and begin developing healthy habits that will position you as a leading manager: someone who strives to execute, but also to inspire.

Using Your Head vs. Following Your Heart

A manager will tend to rely on their head in making significant decisions, while a leader might follow their heart, but the truth is, there will always be challenging situations that require the use of both.

Traditional managers tend to avoid cultivating personal relationships with their employees in an effort to keep their work-life and personal-life in separate containers. Alternately, many leaders looking to generate meaningful friendships with their employees may lose focus on important work-related goals when they are consumed in being a great friend. There must be a balance in fashioning these relationships. This balance will allow you the pleasure of creating long-standing friendships, but it will ensure that you and your employees are productive and concerned with the greater good of the company you are serving.

Similar to building relationships at work, there will occasionally be quick decisions that need to strictly be made based on what makes logical sense for your team and your company. However, interesting situations will also arise that will allow you to make gutsy decisions that you may firmly believe will result in a greater payoff. Combining analytical and creative decision-making can result in greater overall success as opposed to drawing a hard line between which is “right” or “wrong”.

Don’t settle. Understand and reflect on the difficult situations that are presented to you as a manager, look at all of the solutions and alternatives that are available to you and then execute on your decision. Perhaps the answer you are looking for is black or white, but maybe it will require you to sit down and really mull through your options. Remember that as a leading manager, you are not fixed on having to choose between the right answer logically or the right answer morally.

Food for Thought

Understanding the importance of utilizing both your head and your heart when making business decisions is not only beneficial to your team and your company, it also reaps incredible benefits on you and your confidence as a leading manager. Stay tuned next week to read part 3 of this series where I will discuss how traditional managers tend to focus on the details of individual projects or milestones, while leaders place their focus on a greater picture or a future goal. I will deliberate on why short-term goals are crucial to delivering on long-term commitments!


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