Are you a leader or a manager?

Are you a leader or a manager?

There are so many books and information out there that you can learn to be an effective leader, but whether you can implement it to your leadership style or not, is a different story.

I have been in the management role for over 16 years, and it took me a good 7 to 8 years to really understand the difference between telling people what to do and showing them what to do. One of the most important lessons any leader will learn is that even though we’re leaders, we can still fall back to being a manager that just think of short-term goals only.

At this point, you might be questioning, what is the difference? Aren’t leaders and managers the same?

Most leaders create visions, are self-aware and work actively to build their differentiated personal brand. They are also willing to take risks and try new things. Leaders have long-term intentions. And most importantly, leaders focus on people, they build loyalty and trust by delivering what they promise.

On the other hand, most managers focus on setting and measuring goals only. They establish their authority by telling their team what and how to do things. They want everyone to follow the rules. Managers sometimes come across as micromanaging because they want to be in control of everything. And at the end of the day, the team members will end up not feeling inspired or motivated to do the job as they don’t understand the ‘why’ and they don’t feel like their voices have been heard.

It is certainly a life long journey to constantly learn how to become a better version of yourself – a conscious leader. And in order for you to do it, sometimes you have to learn how to pick up those little bad habits of you falling back to being a manager again.

Here are 3 possible mistakes you can easily make when in a leadership position and some useful tips you can follow to give you leverage in this area.

1. Lack of self-awareness

As human beings, we don’t want to fault ourselves and we feel uncomfortable taking on feedback. I’ve come to realise that this is probably the most important thing that all of us need to improve on, especially for leaders.

Nobody is perfect. And it is essential to understand that there is a constant journey of building your self-awareness.

It still amazes me how I’ve come across a lot of people that think they are confident to know what is resilience and self-awareness. But there is a difference between expectation and reality. We all need to have a high level of self-awareness, it is a skill we constantly need in order to level up.

Even for the most successful executives, sometimes they still fail to communicate effectively with their team members and team leaders.

Tip: Establish a circle of trust and regularly have an honest two-way feedback session with your team members. As much as you love to give them feedback, allow them to also give you feedback. The more transparent you are, the better results you can deliver to the business.

Reminder: It is a leader’s responsibility to understand how to give feedback to individuals. While some people love to take on feedback, others might not take it really well. ‘Sandwich feedback techniques’ are often used in giving constructive feedback sessions. But once you come from a place of love, it’s always make it easier for others to take it all in.

2. Lack of self-improvement

When I came to Australia at the age of 15 by myself, I didn’t have any guidance or support. And so I had to learn how to be resilient on my own and I’ve learnt in a very hard way. The reason for that was that I didn’t have a mentor or a coach that would guide me through, and most certainly I didn’t even know that was an option.

It is undeniable that there is so much information out there, but what we are missing is we don’t have direction. Each and every one of us are so eager to learn many different things, but we don’t realise that we need to learn and understand ourselves first.

You can’t lead others better if you can’t lead yourself. You can’t understand others if you can’t understand yourself. Most importantly, you can’t love and support others if you can’t love yourself. Leadership is all about Self-Awareness, Self-Discipline and Self-Mastery.

Tip: If you want to fast-track your career and better yourself, get yourself a coach or a mentor, because you don’t know what you don’t know. Your coach or mentor, they have walked your path and they will know exactly what you need to do to get there.

Reminder: Understanding yourself is a forever learning journey. Some people take months to figure out and others take years. Once you think you’ve got it, it’s just a new beginning for the next level. So just enjoy the ride.

3. Lack of purpose

Everyone has their purposes before they start to do something. Being in a leadership position for so many years now, I realise it’s not always about your ability to be a leader, but also about the reason why you are a leader.

If you are just simply seeking power and money because it makes you feel good, then I can tell you right now that you are here for the wrong reasons.

Having the ability to understand yourself is essential, but being able to communicate with your team members is also needed.

It is important to keep in mind that you have a team with many different profiles and in order to have a good team performance, you need to be able to have different approaches as well.

When you are willing to understand your team members, and willing to overcome all the challenges that you are having then you can start identifying your purpose.

Tip: You need to start asking better questions. And you need to be an active listener, listen like your life depends on it.

Reminder: Leader is not a label, there is a lot of responsibility involved.

Whether you have been in a leadership position for a long period of time or you just started yesterday, it’s important to understand that it is a long journey of learning and you are constantly evolving.

There is always room for improvement in everything, especially yourself. If you are working with a team, allow them to give their feedback to you, and then in return they’ll accept your feedback. This way, not only you can learn from your team, but you will also learn about yourself at the same time.

It is also crucial to discover about your personalities as much as you can. In order to lead a team, you need to be able to lead yourself first. There are several tools that actually provide you a broad understanding of your personality profile, identifying your strengths and weaknesses. However, having your personality profile done without a coach to guide you through can be confusing. So ensure to have someone coach you through what your personality profile actually means. Being a Self-Discovery Coach for a while now, I’ve helped hundreds of people to realise their strengths and weaknesses. And from there, they have a leverage to fasten goals and objectives.

Great leaders will definitely make the greatest impact on life and in the workforce. Understand what motivates you and your ability to lead yourself.

If you are looking forward to advance your career, the time is now.

If you are passionate about leadership just as much as I am, come and have a chat with me so I can help you accelerate your career. You can either shoot me a message on Iris Du Facebook or send me an email through

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