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News & Blogs: New Gen Leaders

5 ways to be a leader (not a manager)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015  
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By Jo Miller

Want to advance your career? Knowing the difference between a manager and a leader will help.

Jennifer Hill, Bank of America's CFO for global banking and global markets, knows the difference. Having held leadership positions with top global financial institutions, Hill has learned a thing or two about what leadership is — and isn’t. "We shouldn't confuse leadership with management," Hill says. "There is a big difference. I have been led by some great people and I’d been micromanaged by some horrible people."

Related: 3 missteps that hurt your career

Here are five lessons on leading, not managing, Hill learned during her career and shared during my "Poised for Leadership" workshop in New York City:

1. Listen more and speak less. Being a good listener and hearing the thoughts and inspirations of others can help you, even when you’re the one in charge. People feel good when they feel heard.

2. Consensus is good, but direction and decisiveness create action. Leading by consensus will rally a team around a common goal, but doesn't create change. You must guide consensus.

3. Anyone can identify a problem. A leader is part of the solution. Leaders don’t sit around and complain about what’s wrong. They drive solutions. They figure out how to make it right.

4. Apologize publicly and gloat privately. True leaders don’t just praise publicly and criticize privately. You don’t see leaders bragging about their success. They talk about their team and their team’s contributions. A leader will apologize and take accountability their actions.

5. Give the hard message. It's very easy to praise somebody. It's easy to give somebody a raise or a good review. It can be much harder, however, to have the tough conversations. It may sound harsh to say, but not everyone does an outstanding job all the time. You've got to tell them, and then you’ve got to move on.

"Learn to inspire and motivate, as opposed to dictate," Hill says. "At the end of the day, good leaders often don’t do the work, but they make you feel like they did."

Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc. and founding editor of, facilitates the NEW Leadership Academy webinars designed to help emerging leaders build core skills and prepare for top management roles in their organizations.

 Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.

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