How to turn managers into leaders

Written by Paul Glatzhofer, VP of Talent Solutions
Previously published by PSI Talent Management or Cubiks, prior to becoming Talogy.

All leaders are not necessarily managers, but all managers should be leaders. In fact, we depend on supervisors and managers to lead the largest employee population in its goal to fulfil the organisational mission. Unfortunately, many of us know that most managers are not great leaders. 

Misguided selection, poor job design, and the very use of the terms “manager” or “supervisor” all reinforce the culture of the leader who doesn’t actually lead. In my work with organisations, we talk about those who lead within the organisation and often we talk specifically about those leaders who are managers. A common theme I have seen is the organisational realisation that the managers are not really leading – rather, they are managing, just as their name implies they should. They come to this realisation through different means, but often it is shown by the fact that the vision of senior leadership is not carried out throughout the organisation. 

The Cultural Hourglass

This is what we have labelled the “Cultural Hourglass.” The senior leaders have a great vision, the staff wants to execute that vision, but there is a bottleneck that prevents it from becoming reality. And, in many instances, this isn’t the fault of the managers. Their jobs are designed in a way that forced them to be administrators instead of leaders. They simply want to get work done because their jobs depend on it, which doesn’t leave them time to lead and coach their employees by innovating and promoting change.

cultural hourglass

I believe that the lack of leadership from managers is why 360 Feedback became popular. If you report to a good leader, you know where you stand throughout the year. You are giving and receiving regular feedback. In many instances, there isn’t a need for a performance review except maybe to communicate a salary increase. However, because we have many managers that are not true leaders, organisations need to force feedback discussions to ensure they are happening at least once a year. To read more on this topic, download the white paper, Where Has Performance Management Gone?

It’s easy to point out issues, but much harder to come up with a solution

In this case, the solution must have many parts and come from having a culture of feedback and coaching. Selecting managers who have leadership potential and can coach others is half the battle. The other half is giving them access to development opportunities, role models, and regular feedback. Even just helping the managers to see themselves as leaders is a huge step forward. They need to prioritise coaching and providing feedback to their employees before they move on to other, less important administrative aspects of their jobs.

Identifying and selecting high-potential talent

We are facing a talent war.

Great leaders are hard to find and even harder to retain in a competitive global economy.

Now more than ever, identifying, developing, and engaging high-potential candidates is an important part of every successful organisation’s talent strategy. They know that their culture is driven by their leaders and they also know that high-performing leaders can be associated with all sorts of positive outcomes (e.g., increased retention of staff, higher employee engagement scores).

Download our white paper to find out:

  • What are indicators of potential?
  • How to identify and assess for potential
Download Now
high potentials a roadmap for identifying and selecting high potentials cta whitepaper cover