Here are some ideas to help you wear both hats of leader and manager, to navigate both roles.
First, try to separate leadership meetings from management meetings. I understand we’re all pressed for time, and I’m definitely not in favor of meeting just to have meetings. One way to navigate going from leader to manager, or manager to leader, in any meeting, is to use your words. Say, “I’m taking my manager hat off and putting leader hat on here,” or, “I’m taking off my leader hat and putting on my manager hat.”
I know that sounds a bit cheesy, but it works. Your people will listen and respond differently. YOU will also notice you communicate differently. That takes at most 10 seconds to say, and it’s one of the best ways to navigate this territory.
Second, instead of thinking or saying, “I have to manage my employees, the team,” start saying, “I get to lead my team and manage the great work they do.” This helps you make the mindset shift and really accept that you lead people, but that you can’t manage them.
Finally, one other action you can take has to do with the tools you use at work. Know which tools you use for management, and which tools you use for leadership. For example, tools like project management software or laptops would fall into the management category – it’s the stuff used to get the work done. Tools like assessments, your own professional development trainings, or the mission, vision, culture, and core values documents would all be leadership tools. Know which tools you use for what role will help you define that line between the two, AND it will help ease you into knowing when and what to communicate.
Those 3 tactics can really help you start to think of yourself in both roles, and distinguish between which person – the leader or the manager – needs to show up.