In Steve Keating’s blog post at LeadToday, he states:

“Here’s a reality of leadership: the vast majority of people are promoted into leadership positions without having demonstrated even a slight ability to actually lead. Many are promoted into leadership positions because they have demonstrated some ability to manage but leading and managing are two entirely different things.”

It’s so true. Have you ever reported to a new manager? It can be painful, right?

Here’s a person who no doubt is great at doing the work and accomplishing great things through their own efforts, knowledge, skills, and talents. Now, the powers that be have decided that because they are so good at DOING their job, they should now lead others at doing their job.

Have you ever been that new leader?

It can be overwhelming. Overwhelming

Dan Rockwell, the Leadership Freak, says that new leaders typically have 5 self-defeating behaviors:

  1. Asking too many questions about the past.
  2. Allowing narrow bands of competence to blind you to wide bands of incompetence. Being great with technology isn’t an excuse to be lousy with people. Being great with people isn’t justification for lousy execution.
  3. Working in isolation – getting lost in doing things.
  4. Holding grudges and clinging to past disappointments. Baggage always holds back.
  5. Giving up on others too quickly. Forgiveness enables growth and strengthens relationships.

You see, what happens is we try to carry over the skills and traits that made us successful in one area say, managing stuff like budgets, inventories, and tasks into our new area of leading people.  The problem is that the skill sets are different and more importantly the mindsets are different. In fact, your focus and your mindset must be completely different as you move from managing things to leading human souls.

Some people can master both skill sets but that’s less common than many people think.

Steve Keating goes on to say:

“The biggest mistake a person newly promoted to a leadership position can make is to believe that just because they were good at selling, or marketing or even because they were good at managing, is that they are automatically good at leading.”

As you have probably found out in your career, this just isn’t true! Yet we see this mistake being made over and over and over again. Even people who have occupied leadership positions for years still sometimes believe that managing “things” is just like leading people.

4 Keys to Your Leadership Success

So, what can you do? Well, Dan Rockwell has 3 ideas and I’ll add a fourth.

#1. Lead feelings. via 3 Surprising Ways to Lead – Even if You Haven’t Led Before

We have so often been told that feelings don’t belong in business. Feelings are “personal” and business is, well, business. Yet, a truly great leader knows that emotion leads to motion and motion is necessary for things to get done. You can find out more about this in my previous blog post at

#2. Look around and out. via 3 Surprising Ways to Lead – Even if You Haven’t Led Before

Whenever you feel threatened or uncomfortable, your natural reaction is to look at yourself and concentrate on the discomfort or the threat. This causes us to narrow our focus and delve into the details. This IS NOT where a leader wants to be. You must learn to focus on growth and look outward, onward and upward from where you currently are.

#3. Intentionally choose the direction and impact of your influence. via 3 Surprising Ways to Lead – Even if You Haven’t Led Before

People won’t follow an aimless person for long. They want to know where you are going. Many managers have a plan of tasks but not a plan of influence. How are you going to win their hearts? What stories will you tell that will move them and direct their emotions? A true leader will think about how their lives will be different. How would you help them to become a better person?

#4. Master Self-Leadership! In order to be able to respond appropriately to all of the situations that you will encounter as a leader, you MUST be able to lead yourself. You must be able to understand how to recognize when you cognitive biases are triggered so you can find the choice and not simply react. This is all about mastering your own thinking. Mastering your mind is a SKILL. It can be learned and, dare I say, MUST be learned if you intend to lead people.

“Your position or title doesn’t make you a leader. Even being a good manager doesn’t make you a leader. … Only leading makes you a leader.” (via Managing Stuff, Leading People)

Register for Upcoming Web Events to Grow Your Leadership

Want to learn more about this topic? Register for my upcoming web events at We’ll be having one next month on building your trustworthiness using the CONNECT cycle… a step-by-step process to build trust.

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