There are many definitions, articles and books about the difference of being a manager or a leader. 
I’m not a big fan of wasting time discussing this difference all the time.
I know that there is, by the definitions, a difference. But I also know that managers can be leaders and leaders often have to manage.

For most part of my working-life I have been an employee with someone to report to. I have also for many years had people reporting to me.

My first “real” job was in a fish-factory when I was 13 years old. The foreman at the factory was my (step)dad. And let me tell you, he gave me no special treatment. In my family we still call him, now retired and 75 years old, The Foreman. He hasn’t retired from liking to boss people around…

Since my first job I have had many different jobs. I have worked at a gas-station. At a hotel, a burger-joint and a supermarket. As a teacher, consultant, coach, trainer, manager and more. I even got fired from one of those jobs. Which I used as a great growth and development opportunity.

This experience of mine:

  • having had all these different jobs, with different managers
  • having worked in Human Resource Management for about 16 years
  • having been a speaker, corporate trainer and coach for about as many years
  • having talked to a lot of employees in many different kinds of organizations

has made me interested in studying management, managers and various management styles. I have also used this experience to put together a presentation for managers. It is titled How to be somebody’s “Best manager I’ve had”. I have gotten good feedback on it. Probably because I use a lot of real stories as examples. And give managers a lot of practical tips.

But enough about me for now.

The employees’ view on their manager

Have you tried to see yourself through the eyes of your employees?

If not, then I recommend you look in the mirror. Mirror in the form of a book I like a lot. Called 30 Reasons Why Employees Hate Their Managers: What Your People May Be Thinking And What You Can Do About It.

I first learned about this book early 2012. From a professor at University of Iceland. He had me come in as a lecturer in one of the courses in their MBA-program. In this course he used this book as part of the course material.

Since then I have asked many of my coaching clients to read it. Most of them are in management roles or company owners. I have also referred to it in many of my presentations and training.

That reading has been a great eye opener for many of my clients. One of them even said “So it is not so hard, or complicated to be a great manager. I just have to be aware of those 30 issues”. That was of course said with some cynicism, but still. I know for a fact that the employees of this manager are a lot happier with him now. Now that he has started to look in the mirror on a regular basis. To look at how he is doing as a manager. Happier employees also perform better so this is a win-win thing.

Next steps for you as a manager

As the book puts it, then it is very important that you treat people fairly. That you respect them as human beings (not only as human resources). Then you have to make sure that they have what the need to be able to do their jobs well. Appreciate them. Do what it takes to make sure that work is something more than a four letter word to them.

So what should be your next steps?

If you want to be able to lead others. And if you want to be able to lead the results of your department or division. I suggest you start by looking at how good you are doing at leading yourself.

Part of being a good manager, or a leader, is to be confident about who you are. For that you have to know who you are, which is one of the main pillars in Self-Leadership. Knowing yourself, know what you want to stand for, what you want your legacy to be etc.

Communication Skills.
As a manager you have to be able to communicate with all kinds of people. Both within and outside of your team. You have to be able to negotiate. Sell your ideas. Settle disagreements. Give good feedback. Give not so positive feedback. If you feel you could be doing better in this area get help. Get professional help, from a trainer, a psychologist or other.

You need self-confidence to make decisions — and to turn them into actions. Also to step into all kinds of situations and handle things the best way you can. And to admit when you make decision that look wrong in the rear-view mirror. Have the confidence to admit when you don´t have all the answers and to admit it when you need help. Hire people that are smarter than you. Give your employees the credit for what they do.


Choose what league you want to play in, as a manager and with your department. Choose the people you need to reach the department´s goals. Don´t be afraid of connecting with them, at the same time as you have clear boundaries. Also choose who you want to be around to grow in your challenges. People that hold you accountable for growing and getting to where you want to go.

Know, and be clear on, what kind of manager you want to be. In general, but also in different kind of situations. You need different approaches in different situations. Be clear on how to use your strengths and where you may need help in your role. Also be clear on what you should put your time into and be strategic in delegating tasks.

How do you approach your employees, or colleagues? I suggest you approach them believing that they want to do great in their job, and their life. Try to see all their potential. Not only as their past performance or experiences but what they want to, and can do. Approach your challenges in the costume of Success. Choose to be positive and happy, and success will follow.

You may have a lot of awesome experience. And all kinds of degrees and letters following your name — or not. Either way you have to constantly keep on learning and developing yourself. Both in your specialty and in how to best manage people and results. Continuously updating your skill-set is essential. Read. Attend webinars and seminars. Have a coach.

I just hope that if you are in a management position you are using it to have a good impact on your people. Also the planet and the profit of your company. The reason why I talk about those three issues, is that they are the main issues in Corporate Social Responsibility. And that matters to us all in so many ways.

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My book; Rekindling your spark: Strategy for better Self-Leadership is available on Amazon.

It includes various tips, tools and exercises.

Please click here to get your copy.

Originally published at on August 2, 2016.

Originally published at