Transforming managers into leaders

It is a sad fact that most organisations are managed from the top and not led from the top.

Processes need managers; people need leaders

People are uncertain, ambiguous and unpredictable. Processes are designed to be certain, clear and predictable. Managers seldom lead people; they don’t like the uncertainty nor do they know what to do. Managers may not, even, like people!

What is needed in all organisations are leaders, people who persuade others to follow.

Leadership is based on forging relationships through conversations, and for providing overall direction of where the organisation is heading and what its future looks like.

The role of leaders

The role of leaders is to guarantee a psychologically healthy organisation in order to guarantee a successful business.

Without a healthy organisation it is most unlikely that the business will achieve its full and true potential; it will settle for being mediocre.

The obligation of leaders is to get the best out of individuals in the business by doing justice to individual intelligence, and their skills, knowledge and experience. The obligation extends to getting the best from the leader him or herself, for the same reasons – to do justice to the intelligence, skills, knowledge and experience of the leader.

The role and obligations of leaders requires skill; skill in understanding people and dealing with uncertainty; skill in persuasion; skill in empowering and encouraging others; skill in making oneself dispensable whilst working alongside employees to persuade them to do things they may not wish to do, but to do them without any feeling of distress.

Leaders are role models; their behaviour is copied; their behaviour grants permission for everyone else to behave in the same way; they create the tone and culture. They have to be very careful in their behaviour and actions.

Leaders need to understand some fundamental psychological characteristics of people in order to know how to handle them and persuade them to do things without causing distress.

Managers Leaders
Processes People
Direction Direction
Coordination Relationships


Transaction Persuade without causing distress
Certainty Uncertainty


Just how fabulous a leader are you?

Be honest with yourself! Just how fabulous a leader are you?  Take the test! It will identify areas where you could improve your performance.

Please answer the following questions by circling the answer that most closely reflects you.


Your observation

Knowing your team well

I know everyone in my team pretty well

I know one or two really very well and the rest hardly at all

I hardly know any of them

I don’t know any of them

Your team knowing you

All my team know me really well

Some of my team know me well

Hardly any of my team now me at all

None of my team knows anything about me

Being curious about everything

I have a curiosity about everything that’s going on.

I am curious only when things go wrong

I’m not particularly curious about much

I have no curiosity about anything

Being attentive to everyone you meet

I find people fascinating and am really attentive to anyone I meet

I am attentive to people, but not always with everyone I meet

I get bored with meeting people so sometimes my mind drifts away

I have little patience, don’t find people interesting, and avoid meeting people.

Being approachable

I like to think I’m approachable all the time when not tied up doing something

I make it clear I am approachable at specific times

I don’t always want people approaching me.

I really don’t like being available to people and shut myself away

Managing your time effectively

I’m brilliant at managing my time

I am good at time management but run out of time once or twice a week

I’m always playing catch up with things to do, and work over my allotted hours doing this.

I’m hopeless at managing my time, and everything in my working life is chaotic.

Showing agility

I’m pretty good at thinking on my feet and expressing my thoughts

It takes me a little time to think around a problem or issue, but I do come up with alternative ideas

I struggle to think on my feet, and always want to come back to an issue once I’ve had a chance to think about it

I can’t think on my feet at all, and prefer to defer and have a meeting later.

Showing intelligent kindness

I am always kind to people, but also assertive when needed.

I’m occasionally kind to members of my team who need it because of how they are feeling, or because something has gone wrong

If someone is in difficulty, I try to show my kind side.

I don’t think being kind goes with being a leader

If you score anything in the right two columns, you should seek some coaching help to get you onto the straight and narrow as a leader.

You could ask your team to assess you, and then discuss any differences in perception.


Dr Derek Mowbray
BA, MSc, MSc(Econ), PhD, DipPsych, CPsychol, CSci, FBPsS, FIHM, FISMA

This article and accompanying tips have been provided for FICM by leading psychologist Dr Derek Mowbray.

To find out more about Strengthening Organisational Resilience, read Derek ’s Guide to Organisational Resilience

To find out more about in house programmes for Organisational Resilience, email, or download a pdf of all our development programmes.

More information can be found in the MAS Article Library, or why not try the  MAS Questionnaires.

Want to know more?
Browse our Wellbeing resources.