Effective Leader vs Successful Manager

How To Be An Effective Leader, Not A Successful Manager

EffectiveLeader-AgnesMwilaExecutiveCoachFirst let me explain the differences between an effective leader and a successful manager…

An effective leader is the one who delegates duties down to his team and invests in them by trusting each of them and by being able to understand what each of his teams’ unique skills and strengths are, and to empower each one with tools needed to be highly effective. Effective leaders encourage thinkers, inventors and challenges his team.

A successful manager, gets the job done on time and makes sure to check every project and takes over everything to make sure it is his/her way. He feels successful because he is able to get credit for the work which he did not do. This type of leadership fails because there are no fresh ideas and things become stale and there are no improvements to meet a fast competitive market.

The problem with successful managers is that you have no time to develop your team and even understand what they need in order to grow. Also they will not be able to understand the diverse skills their team can bring to the table because the focus is him.

BusinessBraninstorming-AgnesMwilaLeadershipCoachAn effective leader is open to a variety of ideas. He understands his teams’ diverse skills and strengths and he is able to tap into each of his teams’ skills. The team is excited and looking forward to brainstorming ideas because they are encouraged. Last week I was reading a magazine in that stated “bring me successes and not problems”. I am not talking about major problems which will destroy the business. Actually the answer is to solve recurring problems or get to root of the problem and solve it so that it will not happen again. What is important is to solve problems the right way using the “root cause analysis” method, solve the problem the right way so that it does not happen again. Also to document what the problem was and how you reached a solution for the next time a similar situation occurs.

An effective leader is one who gets out of his office and goes to where the teams are. He is able to communicate at a personal level but he is careful not to be too personal. I worked in an organization which had senior managers and managers and then there was director. The director knew each person by the first name on the factory floor. Twice a week he would come down from his office and walk on the floor and would stop to greet and talk to all the people on the floor and he knew all of us by first name. People talked about how they felt respected by this man, his  0rganization was highly effective and productive.

An effective leader is the one who invests in people. This type of leader includes everyone and encourages people to solve their differences without taking sides.

A successful manager thinks about himself, his growth and advancements but an effective leader builds a relationship with the team, shows respect and confidence in each of his tem.

An effective leader encourages success for ALL of his team. He listens to concerns and trys to solve problems as soon as they occur. Encourages his team to support and respect each other.

For example, I had a difference of  opinion with one member of my team. He went to my manager, and the manager took his side without even talking to me. I suggested to the manager, that it would have been much better if we were given a chance to solve our own issues and encouraged to agree on how to treat each other going forward.


When I coach leaders I find that the common topic most of them want to discuss is effective communication. This is a very important tool to have, because if you are not able to communicate with your team how are you going to know where to start to develop your teams. An effective leader has very good listening skills as well. Listening to understand rather than listening and waiting for your turn to speak makes a difference. There is a saying that “you learn a lot by listening more and by talking less.”

Through my experience in coaching leadership, I have learned a lot about the different approaches to understanding what leading means. Some people think that leadership is something you are born with and others say it is ongoing learning experiences. I tend to agree with the latter, any leader who is not willing to listen and tap into other peoples’ perspectives will not go far.

Here are some tips about succeeding as a leader:

  •  Know each of your team on personal level
  • Know the skills each one brings to the team
  • Understand how you can set these skills to complement each other
  • Listen to everyone on your team
  • Include everyone in the discussion and be patient, some people need time to express themselves. By including everyone, everyone gets the feeling that they matter to the team, also know that a good idea may come from a very unlikely people.
  • Introduce norms for your team that address how they are to treat each other. Let each one come up with at least one of them depending on the size of the team you lead.

Coaching leaders:

When I coach leaders I am interested in leading them and helping them uncover what their concerns are about their leadership style. 85% want to be able to communicate effectively with their employees. However, when we dig deeper into the subject it is clear that the kind of communication they talk about is from up to down. If you want people to listen to you, it’s important for you to listen to them too. Effective leader will have excellent communication and listening skills!

If your goal is to become a better, more effective leader – Please contact me  at 425-879-1677 or email me from my Contact Form.


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