An Evolution to Leadership


The transition from manager to leader can be daunting and it comes with unexpected challenges and rewarding insights.  As I transitioned into the executive team and leadership role it made me pause for a minute and reflect back on what this position means. As the COO of HASA, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the profound transformation that it takes to go from the manager role to that of a leader in the organization.  In today’s dynamic business landscape, the traditional role of a manager, characterized by control and oversight, is rapidly evolving into that of a leader, marked by empowerment, trust, and collaboration.

At HASA, we’ve embraced this change, emphasizing effective delegation and open conversations about trust and expectations. This shift allows us to place our trust in our talented team members, confident that they will rise to the occasion, and we empower them to make decisions autonomously, with the knowledge of when to seek support from the COO.  And, like any organization, we’re continuing to learn how we can best communicate and implement these tactics.

The Changing Landscape of Manager vs. Leader

Historically, managers were tasked with micromanaging every detail, dictating processes, and closely supervising their teams. This approach often stifled creativity and hindered employee growth. Today, the modern leader recognizes that their role is to inspire, guide, and support their team members, empowering them to take ownership of their work.

At HASA, we firmly believe in the power of this transformation. Our journey from a traditional managerial mindset to a leadership-oriented approach has yielded remarkable results, enhancing employee satisfaction and boosting organizational performance.

The Art of Effective Delegation

Delegation is the linchpin of effective leadership. It involves entrusting your team with responsibilities and authority while retaining a supportive role. Transitioning from a managerial perspective to a leadership perspective can be challenging, but it’s essential to understand that delegation isn’t about relinquishing control entirely—it’s about reallocating responsibilities strategically.

To facilitate a transition, here are some great tips:

  1. Clear Communication: Open and honest communication is paramount. Leaders transitioning from management roles must effectively communicate their expectations, provide necessary resources, and explain the significance of each task.
  1. Understanding Team Skills: Knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses is critical. Effective delegation involves assigning tasks that align with an employee’s skills and growth goals.
  1. Continuous Feedback: Regular and constructive feedback is key. It not only helps employees improve but also reinforces trust by demonstrating your commitment to their success.

Fostering Trust through Open Conversations

Trust is the cornerstone upon which successful delegation is built. At HASA, we encourage candid conversations about trust and expectations between leaders and team members. Here’s how we nurture trust:

  1. Setting Clear Expectations: Defining expectations ensures everyone is on the same page. Discuss desired outcomes, timelines, and potential challenges upfront.
  1. Active Listening: Leaders must actively listen to their team members’ concerns and ideas. Demonstrating that their input is valued nurtures trust.
  1. Transparency: Trust thrives on transparency. Share the reasoning behind decisions and be honest about uncertainties or challenges the team may face.
  1. Encouraging Questions: Foster an environment where questions are welcomed. When employees feel safe seeking clarification, trust flourishes.

Empowering Employees

Empowerment is at the heart of the leader’s role. Trusting employees to make decisions autonomously and take ownership of their work is essential for cultivating a culture of autonomy and accountability.

At HASA, we believe in providing our team members with the autonomy to make decisions within their areas of responsibility. This autonomy not only bolsters their confidence but also promotes creativity and innovation. However, it’s equally important to establish boundaries to ensure that decisions align with the organization’s values and goals.

Knowing When to Seek Help

While we advocate for autonomy, we also emphasize the importance of recognizing when to seek assistance. Employees should feel comfortable reaching out to leaders when faced with challenges beyond their expertise or when a decision may have significant consequences.

As the COO, I am here to support my team when they need assistance. However, I also trust them to exercise their judgment and problem-solving skills to the best of their abilities. This balance fosters a culture of shared responsibility and continuous learning.

The evolving roles of managers and leaders mirror the changing dynamics of today’s workplace. At HASA, we have embraced this shift by learning to delegate effectively and fostering open conversations about trust and expectations. We trust that once given clear communication and expectations, our employees will perform their tasks diligently.

The journey from manager to leader is not without its challenges, but it is a path that leads to greater employee satisfaction, enhanced performance, and a thriving organizational culture. By empowering our team members, building trust, and knowing when to seek help, we are establishing a solid foundation for success at HASA. We invite other organizations to join us on this transformational journey toward leadership excellence, confident in the knowledge that fostering trust, autonomy, and open conversations is the key to a brighter future.

By Emilie Aguilar

Learn More About HASA

HASA connects people to their worlds and aids individuals in their ability to understand and to be understood. HASA has grown into an organization that serves more than 4,000 children and adults every year, helping them communicate more effectively. With programming both on our Baltimore campus and through community-based programming, we provide education, access, and medical support to anyone who needs it.

We envision a society where everyone can understand and be understood and where everyone is treated with integrity, compassion, and equity. Join us.