Every month, the 17th Floor broadcasts live chats with experts in the Human Capital Management field. In our latest panel, we talked with Kevin Eikenberry about leadership, employee engagement and how to help managers become leaders.

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Highlights Summary

Management vs. Leadership

Some people use the terms "manager " and "leader" indistinctly, but the reality is that they are not synonyms. Indeed, both can refer to job positions; a person can have the title of "manager" or "leader." However, if we think about the concept of the role of each, then both terms mean different things.

The terms ‘manager’ and ‘leader’ are related though. If we analyze them as positions, a leader also has management responsibilities, and a manager also has leadership responsibilities.

We manage things such as budgets, projects, processes, etc. On the other hand, we lead people. It’s far more complex to lead than to manage.

Both are critical to Human Capital Management. It’s not a matter of choosing one over the other but balancing and mastering the two.

Must-Have Qualities of a Leader

Everyone may have different ideas or preferences about what a good leader should be or have. Even Kevin's book, ‘Remarkable Leadership,’ lists 13 essential qualities. What is certain is that a good leader must be able to:

  • Listen and communicate effectively

  • Set a clear vision or goal

  • Coach and give feedback

  • Build strong working relationships

  • Build trust and influence

One critical thing that all leaders should do to be more effective is to have more interactions than transactions. We must interact with others and not just talk about work.

Unfortunately, interacting is more difficult to do remotely than from the hallway. Leaders who manage remote or hybrid teams must be more intentional about these interactions. They will need to think about how, where and when they are reaching out to their teams simply because they are not going to run into them by chance in the hallway or catch up at the end of a meeting.

One-on-one meetings can be the solution to this. They don’t need to be scheduled as long as leaders take the time to ask the employee, “How are you doing?” or “I know you had that thing during the weekend; how did it go?”

This can be done after a ‘transaction call,’ if leaders take a couple of minutes to turn it into an ‘interaction call.’ Creating valuable interactions doesn’t have to be a 10-minute conversation, but it is essential that leaders create opportunities for these exchanges and follow up with their remote teams regularly.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

While it can have many possible definitions, leaders with emotional intelligence are self-aware of what they can bring to the table. They acknowledge there is more to the work than the tasks.

Emotional intelligence means recognizing the importance of who we are and what we bring into every interaction or situation. It’s about people, what they bring and recognizing that not all that’s easy is what it seems.

Being emotionally intelligent is being aware of and leaning into the human component of our work and ourselves as it relates to our ability to interact with others.

Many people say you are born a leader, or you’re not. But these skills, like being emotionally intelligent and other leadership skills, can be learned. That doesn’t mean everyone will learn them because this needs to be intentional. This is hard work, but it can be learned and gained.

From Manager to Leader

It starts with having the mindset. Then, organizations have to ask themselves what they want from leaders in their company; what leadership should look like for them. The expectation piece is vital.

Managers can’t live up to an expectation that they don’t know because being a good leader is undoubtedly more than just getting the tasks done.

Another important aspect that will make managers great leaders is the importance of role modelling. For example, if leaders want their teams to be inclusive, they best be too.

The same thing happens with employee engagement. Leaders can’t expect their teams to be engaged if they aren’t.

Engagement is people willing to raise their hand, people willing to do more than what is absolutely necessary, people willing to provide extra effort.

Managers can’t make employees engage; people choose to be engaged. So, leaders should help employees choose to be engaged by showing them all the benefits that being all engaged brings.

About the Expert

Kevin Eikenberry is the founder, owner and leader of The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Kevin is a two-time best-selling author, speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. He spends his days writing, speaking, coaching, consulting and training to help leaders make a more significant difference in the world around them.

He is the author of The Long-Distance trilogy with 'The Long-Distance Leader,' 'The Long-Distance Teammate,' and most recently 'The Long-Distance Team,' a proven and practical guide for leaders to consciously design teams, define and create their desired culture, and encourage and nurture employee engagement—all from a distance.

What was your favourite idea or quote from Kevin on how to go from manager to leader? Tell us in the comments below.

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