There are several key factors why leaders are able to keep talent and managers often cannot.

Throughout my career, I’ve noticed several key differentiators between manager and leaders and why the former often cannot keep talent within their organization. During my six years of active duty in the U.S. Navy, at one point I had three different bosses. I learned first-hand of the characteristics of each one’s management style and how they led their teams to success. From leading from behind the desk to walking the floors and getting in the trenches with the people in the field, I’ve seen what works in terms of retaining and developing top talent. In my current role, I try to incorporate specific skills I’ve learned and witnessed to lead my team to achieve and thrive.

Above all, leaders are able to inspire others. Rather than having employees who show up just to get the job done, leaders motivate their teams to excel and thrive because the individuals want to succeed on their own. There’s a sense of pride in their work that stems from the leadership they see at the top. In my time as a recruiter, I’ve come in contact with many managers but fewer leaders. The main differentiator is their ability to inspire and motivate their employees to want to perform at the highest level possible.

Next, leaders act with love. Meaning, they treat their employees with respect and empathy and are looking out for their best interests. Recently, I worked with a hiring manager who recommended one of his own employees for a position I was filling. Surprised at his suggestion, he explained that he wanted what was best for the individual’s success, even if that meant moving on to a new opportunity. As the saying goes, if you love something, let it go.

Likewise, be able to hand over the reins to your team to let them feel challenged and have worth within your company. Employers want to feel cared about and that their opinions matter. Thus, managing with a sense of love can lead to greater success and results within your team and organization.

Lastly, communication is key. Don’t assume your employees can read your mind or know what you need from them. Be specific in your goals and objectives and inspect what you expect from them. Follow up on tasks and provide a sense of accountability in order to make sure they are performing at their highest potential and working toward achieving the desired end result.

Just because someone is a manager, doesn’t make him or her a good leader. However, if you consider these key traits and characteristics in your management style, you’ll see your own management style develop as well as the personal and professional success of your team.

Have you worked with a manager or leader in the past? Share your experiences below.


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