Leading without Managing

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One of the interesting things I have heard a few times during the Pluralsight Tech Skills Day was growing your career, and moving into a leadership role, but without becoming a manager. I've tried to this the last few jobs, helping others and even managers learn to be better at their job of, well, managing.

Part of that job is leading. That means inspiring employees, and helping keep them motivated and on track without penalties or pressure. Maybe the best definition I've seen in the past is that leadership is convincing people to get things done when they have no reason to do so. It's influence and inspiration.

Managing is often dealing with day to day issues. Scheduling vacation, salary reviews, tracking progress of work, dealing with HR issues, running meetings and more. Those are skills managers really need, and often aren't well trained on. Hopefully you get a manager that has spent time learning these skills.

Leadership is different, and it's something you can do in any position. You can inspire others, set an example, and believe in yourself. Those qualities often bring others along, especially when you have success. Even if you don't always succeed at your task, learning and trying new approaches can convince others that they should follow your lead.

As a manager you can force others to follow your direction, but leading them is a different skill. I've had many more managers that couldn't lead than could, but that wasn't always a problem. As long as someone is providing leadership, the team has direction and focus. If you don't have a manager that's a leader, perhaps you want to be that person. Step up, be a role model, and guide others along a path that meets the goals your organization has set.

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