By Philip J Reed – December 23rd, 2015
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In addition to the traditional challenges of leading teams, today’s managers are facing emerging trends that are changing the way they operate. Disruptions and changes in the global marketplace are forcing leaders to take a new approach in various realms in order to help their organizations stay nimble and competitive.
Whether young or old, good managers exhibit qualities like humility, clarity, and agility. Flexibility and adaptation are growing needs for any organization, and the qualities of a good manager are no different. Knowing how to lead a team (not just assign tasks) and how to keep an eye on global trends will help both experienced and inexperienced managers excel.
Here are four ways good managers can become great:
Three-quarters of managers from around the world said their ability to change is their most significant competitive advantage, according to a study by Bain & Company. When situations change, effective bosses encourage and value the process of transformation because they know their teams must adapt to stay competitive. This is true in the U.S. and throughout the globe. Demographics are changing, populations are aging and resource scarcity is pushing deep shifts throughout the world markets. Technology changes the way we work, yet also brings more volatility. Sometimes change could be a threat to the very position of a manager, but responsible leaders know transformation is quickly becoming the norm and they embrace the transition wholeheartedly.
Nearly 40% of the workforce is now being managed by millennials, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. Most of those surveyed said they don’t think the age difference is a problem. But those who expressed issues with their younger bosses cited a problem that can actually affect managers of any age. About half of their employees said young managers think they know more than their senior employees.
Let’s pause for a quick reminder. Ego knows no age. No matter your generation or background, you can’t possibly know everything. When you surround yourself with the most talented people who have conversations you can’t always understand, that’s a good thing. You don’t have to understand the intricacies of their daily jobs because you’ve got a brilliant team of these type of folks who are taking care of many tasks. You know that because you check in with them throughout the week and only step in if they have a problem.
Be supportive from the sidelines.
Global shifts, new technology, and industry regulations are forcing some companies to gut their management layers, leaving more employees to supervise. The ironic challenge here is that managers who spend more time with their employees and less time with spreadsheets are considered more effective team leaders. That’s why it’s more important than ever to reach out to your employees when they need your help, but not much more. You delegate work to your trusted, talented team with the confidence and understanding that they’ve got things under control.
Good managers have to spend time measuring the productivity of those under their purview. However, they gain effectiveness when they can balance that time with coaching and investing in their employees when they need it most.
When you assign projects, speak in exact terms about what you expect the outcome to be. Tell your employees exactly what you want and set clear expectation to ensure they spend their time working toward the desired objective. Tell them how the project is going to be measured. Engage in a conversation about the outcome to ensure your employees understand the goal. Monitor their progress, but by all means, only step in if they need support.
Whether you’re just becoming a team leader or if you’ve been honing your managerial qualities for years, it’s important to stay abreast of changing market dynamics and how they can affect your job. And don’t forget to be honest with yourself. Anyone can slip into a rut, but it takes a great leader to do sometimes tough self-reflection to adapt for your team or try something new. There are also many training opportunities out there for managers looking to develop or hone their leadership skills. From short seminars and certificates to full bachelor’s and master’s degrees, getting out of your own environment can give you a new perspective as well as some practical tips to help you go from being a good manager to a great one.
Building a successful business is not child’s play. One should have excellent managerial skills and leadership qualities to become the strongest pillar of their organization.
But many owners are dubious about whether they have the personality of a manager vs that of a leader. Little do they know about what it actually takes to be a manager or a leader.
What is Manager vs a Leader?
Basically, a manager is a designation provided to a person in a company or organization for his contributions and achievements. They manage the team to deliver its best for the company’s betterment.
On the other hand, a leader is a person who has these leadership skills built in them. They work with the team towards a vision and helps them develop along with them, both personally and professionally.
What Makes a Leader and a Manager?
You can analyze the characteristics that a manager and a leader should have by going through the following:
What Makes Managers
Managers work for short term goals. They maintain the employees focus on work and controls or minimizes the risks. They work on brushing up their skills and copy the successful methods or strategies that worked previously.
Ability to Direct
The main role of a manager is to lead a team to execute a vision. So they should be able to direct team members towards that vision.
Managers should be able to manage the process of the work in the organization. This requires them to look after the task allocation, work on progress analysis, and developing new strategies to improve work quality.
What Makes a Leader
Create a Vision
Leaders need to create a vision. They take the people in their team and motivate them to look up to same vision.
Ability to Challenge
They take risks and never leave a chance to break stereotypes. Uniqueness and innovation is their success mantra. They take opportunities to learn new things, develop new skills, and improve.
They think for the long haul and focus on building relationships with people rather than building processes. They coach people to try something new every time other than following the same routine over and over.
Being a Leader vs a Manager
Be it a manager or a leader, it doesn’t always come naturally. You need to work and develop your skills accordingly to become one.
How to Be a Good Manager
If you want to become a good manager, you need:
The first thing you need to have as a manager is appreciation for your team. This plays a crucial role in your team’s progress. Take some time to appreciate your members for something they have achieved or improved on. This makes their bond with you and the company stronger.
2. Trust Your Team
When you have assigned a task to a member or the whole team, trust them. Do not be anxious about how they will carry out the task and do not fear failure. When you count on them, they realize what their responsibilities are.
Secret tip: If it is their first task or something serious, give them an earlier deadline. This way, if something goes wrong, you will still have enough time to handle it.
3. Be There for the Team
When you are working with a team, many things happen that you need to deal with. Misunderstandings among team members or someone isn’t able to work on a task correctly, or a team project is not going as you planned.
This is when you need to stand with the team, not against them. Motivate them, help them, and solve the issue with them rather than blaming them or punishing them. This encourages teamwork and boosts your team’s energy.
4. Act the Way You Want them To
Act the way you want your employees to, and to have them have someone to look up to and be inspired by. If you want them to be punctual, you should be. This will have them following your example, rather than scolding them.
A very important thing for a team is communication. This is the success mantra for productive teamwork. Organize team lunches, prepare team-talks and other such opportunities where you get enough space and time to talk. This encourages positive vibes at work that can help in to develop a positive company culture.
How to Be a Good Leader
If you want to become a good leader, you need:
1. Be a Role Model
Since you are the leader, you need to be a role model for others. This is how they can look up to you and follow your vision.
2. Make Good and Careful Decisions
Being a leader is not easy. It needs you to make some crucial decisions. So don’t be impulsive about decision making. And be ready to make essential and risky choices at any moment.
3. Understand the Team
You should know your team well. You should have a clear idea of their strengths and weaknesses, so you know what you can expect from each of them.
4. Try Innovation
You should be willing to try new and unique things. You need to be open to innovation and challenges. This is how you can get new opportunities, and how your company can grow.
5. Encourage Growth
You should not restrict your team members. You need to grow together. So give them some space and freedom to grow. If they are learning something, encourage them.
Now that you know what the characteristics of a leader and a manager are, analyse your personality. Understand the skills you possess and the skills you need to develop to become a leader or manager.
A business needs someone with both leadership and managerial skills. For only a leader or only a manager cannot be a strong pillar of any organization. There will be times when they need to be managerial, and other times when they need to show leadership.
How Can You Become a Leader and a Manager?
If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
Managing is a skill that can be learned. Every day, pick one of these 10 ways to improve your skills. Work on it. Then pick another one. You’ll be a better manager before you know it, and others will notice too.
Work With What You Have
As a manager, you are only as good as the people on your team. The majority of the time, you don’t get to choose who works for you. They may not meet your standards or desires for your team, but they were hired for a reason and they are yours.
Work with all of your people to identify areas that need improvement. Once you have identified the areas that individuals need to focus on, develop goals for them to strive for while working.
Motivate Your Team
A desirable trait for a leader is motivation. If you are motivated, your team stands a better chance to become motivated and buy-in to the ideas and tasks you are selling to them.
For team members, the buy-in is a belief in what they are doing. For your team to buy-in to the work, you have to buy into it as well. A leader that does not portray belief in a task will receive shoddy results.
Build Your Team
It is not enough that each person is motivated to succeed. They need to work together as a team to accomplish the group’s objective. If they could get it done individually, they wouldn’t need you to manage them. Develop your team-building skills, and then approach every day as a day the team wins or loses together.
Be a Leader
You have built the best team from the best employee available. You motivated them to peak performance. What is missing? Motivating a team is useless unless you provide direction. You need to turn that motivation towards a goal and lead the team to it. It is the ability to lead others that truly sets a manager apart.
Be a Communicator
Communication may be the single most important skill of a manager. You can’t be a leader if you can’t communicate your vision. You can’t motivate people if they can’t understand what you want. Communication skills can be improved through practice. To work on getting your point across, prepare your points ahead of time, and practice them out loud.
Most managers are expected to help the company make money, directly or indirectly. That means bringing money in the door and spending less than you bring in. Depending on your function in the organization, you may have more influence on one area or the other, but you need to understand both.
You can help your company, your employees, and yourself by understanding how to manage the company’s money. This could include knowing your part of the budget or researching ways to save the company money in your department.
Monitor the Time
The one thing you will probably have less of at work than money is time. The better you get at managing time, the more effective you will be as a manager. Time management, in a nutshell, is planning the amount of time you and your team spend on tasks. Once you plan it, do your best to stick to it.
Don’t focus so hard on your people that you forget about yourself. Identify the areas in which you need to work and improve them. Some ideas to help you identify your weaknesses are regular counseling sessions with your boss, communicating with your peers about areas you can work on or researching some leadership techniques and adopting the ones you like.
Practice Ethical Management
Corporate scandals of the last half-century have driven home the point on the importance of ethical conduct in business. Strive to be ethical, and expect your team members to be as well. You may have to enforce ethical behavior and at times report unethical actions.
Take Reflection Time
One of the keys to effective leadership and management is setting aside some time for reflection. When you turn down the volume and think, instead of acting, you will usually be able to calm yourself down and create options or actions that will best suit the situation you are confronted with. Take the time to think and consider your actions, reactions, and your next steps.
Company leaders are facing a crisis. Nearly one-third of employees don’t trust management. In addition to this, employers now have to cater to the needs of the millennial generation. On average, after graduating from college, a millennial will change jobs four times before they are 32. Most of them also don’t feel empowered on their current jobs.
It’s clear that many leaders are failing to foster a sense of trust and loyalty in their employees. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case. Managers who show great leadership qualities can inspire their teams to accomplish amazing things, according to Daniel Wang, the creator of Loopring Protocol and founder of the Loopring Foundation. Loopring is a decentralized automated execution system that trades across the crypto-token exchanges. The platform reduces the cost of trading and shields users from counterparty risk. I’ve distilled my conversation with Wang to eight of the most essential qualities that make a great leader.
1. Sincere enthusiasm
True enthusiasm for a business, its products, and its mission cannot be faked. Employees can recognize insincere cheerleading from a mile away. However, when leaders are sincerely enthusiastic and passionate, that’s contagious. For instance, someone who worked with Elon Musk on the early stages of his SpaceX project said that the true driver behind the success of the project was Musk’s enthusiasm for space travel.
Wang says being enthusiastic helps a leader identify existing key problems in his industry. “Any innovation starts from these problems and ends with products and services, with some of the key issues resolved,” he said.
Whether it’s giving proper credit for accomplishments, acknowledging mistakes, or putting safety and quality first, great leaders exhibit integrity at all times. They do what’s right, even if that isn’t the best thing for the current project or even the bottom line.
“When people see evidence that leaders lack integrity, that can be nearly impossible to recover from,” Wang said. “Trust lost is difficult to get back.”
3. Great communication skills
Leaders must motivate, instruct and discipline the people they are in charge of. They can accomplish none of these things if they aren’t very skilled communicators. Not only that, poor communication can lead to poor outcomes. Leaders who fail to develop these skills are often perceived as being weak and mealy-mouthed, according to Wang. It’s also important to remember that listening is an integral part of communication.
The best leaders understand that true loyalty is reciprocal. Because of this, they express that loyalty in tangible ways that benefit the member of their teams. True loyalty is ensuring that all team members have the training and resources to do their jobs. It’s standing up for team members in crisis and conflict.
“Great leaders see themselves as being in a position of service to their team members,” Wang said. “Employees who believe leadership is loyal to them are much more likely to show their own loyalty when it matters.”
A good leader isn’t simply empowered to make decisions due to their position. They are willing to take on the risk of decision making. They make these decisions and take risks knowing that if things don’t work out, they’ll need to hold themselves accountable first and foremost.
Further, bosses who aren’t decisive are often ineffective. Too much effort working on consensus building can have a negative effect. Rather than simply making a decision, many leaders allow debate to continue, and then create a piecemeal decision that satisfies no one.
6. Managerial competence
Too many organizations try to create leaders from people who are simply good at their jobs. To be clear, those who emerge as being very good workers often have important qualities. They are the ones who have a strong understanding of the company’s products and services. They understand company goals, processes, and procedures. All of these are important.
On the other hand, being good at one’s job doesn’t prove that someone possesses the other competencies they need. For example, can they inspire, motivate, mentor and direct? Wang illustrates with major league baseball. While nearly all coaches have backgrounds as major league players, the most winning players aren’t necessarily the most successful coaches.
A good leader has faith in their ability to train and develop the employees under them. Because of this, they have the willingness to empower those they lead to act autonomously. Wang says this comes from trusting that their team members are fully up to any challenges they face. When employees are empowered, they are more likely to make decisions that are in the best interest of the company and the customer as well. This is true, even if it means allowing workers to go a bit off script.
Simply put, people are more likely to follow the lead of those they like. The best leaders are well-spoken, approachable and friendly. They show sincere care for others.
“People at all levels of an organization find it easy to relate to them and follow their lead,” Wang concluded.
Every one of these qualities is absolutely essential to great leadership. Without them, leaders cannot live up to their full potential. As a result, their employees will never perform as well as they can either. Because of this, organizations must learn the best ways to identify and also to develop these necessary traits in existing and emerging leaders.
I am a millennial communication and leadership coach. I consult for companies and help millennials become confident communicators, power networkers and dynamic leaders…
I am a millennial communication and leadership coach. I consult for companies and help millennials become confident communicators, power networkers and dynamic leaders who can push boundaries and inspire action. My background as a graduate of Comparative Literature and Culture from Brandeis University, writer and storyteller uniquely distinguishes me as a leadership and communication coach who inspires a creative, dynamic confidence in all of her clients and every audience. I am out to discover stories of young leaders and draw lessons from their lifestyles, goals, motivations, mistakes, challenges, failures, achievements and prospects. In these competitive times, leadership skills can definitely be the keystone to success – I help millennials hone those.
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When you are promoted into a role where you are managing people, you don’t automatically become a leader. There are important distinctions between managing and leading people. Here are nine of the most important differences that set leaders apart:
1. Leaders create a vision, managers create goals.
Leaders paint a picture of what they see as possible and inspire and engage their people in turning that vision into reality. They think beyond what individuals do. They activate people to be part of something bigger. They know that high-functioning teams can accomplish a lot more working together than individuals working autonomously. Managers focus on setting, measuring and achieving goals. They control situations to reach or exceed their objectives.
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2. Leaders are change agents, managers maintain the status quo.
Leaders are proud disrupters. Innovation is their mantra. They embrace change and know that even if things are working, there could be a better way forward. And they understand and accept the fact that changes to the system often create waves. Managers stick with what works, refining systems, structures and processes to make them better.
3. Leaders are unique, managers copy.
Leaders are willing to be themselves. They are self-aware and work actively to build their unique and differentiated personal brand. They are comfortable in their own shoes and willing to stand out. They’re authentic and transparent. Managers mimic the competencies and behaviors they learn from others and adopt their leadership style rather than defining it.
4. Leaders take risks, managers control risk .
Leaders are willing to try new things even if they may fail miserably. They know that failure is often a step on the path to success. Managers work to minimize risk. They seek to avoid or control problems rather than embracing them.
5. Leaders are in it for the long haul, managers think short-term.
Leaders have intentionality. They do what they say they are going to do and stay motivated toward a big, often very distant goal. They remain motivated without receiving regular rewards. Managers work on shorter-term goals, seeking more regular acknowledgment or accolades.
6. Leaders grow personally, managers rely on existing, proven skills.
Leaders know if they aren’t learning something new every day, they aren’t standing still, they’re falling behind. They remain curious and seek to remain relevant in an ever-changing world of work. They seek out people and information that will expand their thinking. Managers often double down on what made them successful, perfecting existing skills and adopting proven behaviors.
7. Leaders build relationships, managers build systems and processes.
Leaders focus on people – all the stakeholders they need to influence in order to realize their vision. They know who their stakeholders are and spend most of their time with them. They build loyalty and trust by consistently delivering on their promise. Managers focus on the structures necessary to set and achieve goals. They focus on the analytical and ensure systems are in place to attain desired outcomes. They work with individuals and their goals and objectives.
8. Leaders coach, managers direct.
Leaders know that people who work for them have the answers or are able to find them. They see their people as competent and are optimistic about their potential. They resist the temptation to tell their people what to do and how to do it. Managers assign tasks and provide guidance on how to accomplish them.
9. Leaders create fans, managers have employees.
Leaders have people who go beyond following them; their followers become their raving fans and fervent promoters – helping them build their brand and achieve their goals. Their fans help them increase their visibility and credibility. Managers have staff who follow directions and seek to please the boss.
Are you a manager or a leader?
Join me! I’m delivering a special Forbes Webinar with Kimberly Horner: The New Rules for Personal Branding. We’ll share everything you need to know so you can build your brand for the digital age. It’s on September 12 th at noon EDT. Register here.
For many businesspeople, the last thing you want to worry about (or do) is managing people. You want to get out there and meet customers and create awesome products and bring exciting new opportunities through your front door. But unless you’ve hired people to take on the task of managing your employees, then you’re still on the hook.
The good news is that you can make that task a little bit easier for yourself by remembering these 7 essential leadership keys, and your organization will benefit as a direct result.
1. Delegate wisely
The key to leadership success is to learn to effectively delegate both the responsibility for completing assignments and the authority required to get things done. Many bosses feel that they need to control every little thing that their employees do. This is a recipe for disaster. When you delegate work to employees, you multiply the amount of work you can accomplish while you develop your employees’ confidence, leadership and work skills.
2. Set goals
Every employee needs goals to strive for. Not only do goals give employees direction and purpose, but they ensure that your employees are working towards the overall organizational goals. Set specific and measurable goals with your employees, then regularly monitor their progress toward achieving them.
Far too many bosses communicate far too little. It’s often difficult for busy business owners and executives to keep their employees up-to-date on the latest organizational news. Regardless, you must make every effort to get employees the information they need to do their jobs quickly and efficiently.
4. Make time for employees
Above all, leadership is a people job. When an employee needs to talk with you–whatever the reason–make sure that you set aside the time to do so. Put your work aside for a moment, put down your smartphone, and focus on the person standing in front of you.
5. Recognize achievements
Every employee wants to do a good job. And when they do a good job, employees want recognition from their bosses. Unfortunately, few bosses do much in the way of recognizing and rewarding employees for a job well done. The good news is that there are many things bosses can do to recognize employees that cost little or no money, are easy to implement, and that take only a few minutes to accomplish.
6. Think about lasting solutions
No matter how difficult the problem, there is always a quick solution, and leaders are happiest when they are devising solutions to problems. The trouble is that, in our zeal to fix things quickly and move on to the next fire, we often overlook the lasting solution that may take longer to develop. Although it’s more fun to be a firefighter, the next time you have a problem to solve in your organization, deal with the cause of the problem instead of simply treating the symptoms.
7. Don’t take It all too seriously
Without a doubt, running a company is serious business. Products and services must be sold and delivered, and money must be made. Despite the gravity of these responsibilities, successful leaders make their organizations fun places to work. Instead of having employees who look for every possible reason to call in sick or to arrive to work late or go home early, organizations work hard and play hard end up with a more loyal, energized workforce.
Just because someone is in a managerial or supervisory role, doesn’t automatically make that person a true leader. That designation is often reserved for those who display a certain set of attributes in addition to practical business skills. These leadership qualities are in high demand for good reason — they can drive organizational success and elevate employee morale. Here’s a synopsis of the qualities of a good manager.
Of all the attributes that set good managers apart, this may be the most important. The ability to empower members of a team and help each individual strive to excellence is often what drives an organization’s success. 1 Great leaders tap into employees’ desire to make a difference in the world and positively impact their communities.
Demonstrates Honesty and Transparency
Some people talk about how honest they are, but others embody it. Good managers fall into the latter group and usually display considerable transparency about their efforts. Because of that, their supervising executives and their managed employees know that a manager can be trusted. That trust creates loyalty, which is a powerful tool in any business.
Offers a Strategic View
There’s great value in working on the details of a project, but a good manager also has the larger view about why that project is necessary, meets business goals and connects to other efforts. Employees depend on that vision and on a manager’s ability to articulate how their work fits into that bigger strategic outlook.
If employees are struggling to understand what a manager wants then communication is sorely lacking. A good manager has solid communication skills that are tailored to each situation. For example, he or she can relay strategic goals to a boardroom full of executives and also pinpoint very specific objectives to a project team. Demonstrating proficiency in a range of communication styles is a valued soft skill.
Leads by Example
Anyone can issue orders, but a true leader knows what it’s like to be in the trenches. 2 When a good manager works side by side with a team and shows up physically and mentally for every task it’s definitely noticed. Similarly, when a manager sends out project due dates and then goes missing from the office or is unavailable for questions that’s also noticed.
Makes Informed Decisions
Although delegation is important for keeping specific projects on track, a good manager understands that there are some decisions that can’t be outsourced to employees. Solid decision-making provides clarity and focus for team members and removes the type of ambiguity that might send projects reeling offtrack. Some decisions might not be so straightforward, so part of a manager’s leadership qualities is the willingness to be creative, intuitive and confident in setting a new direction.
With leadership qualities like these, the results can be profound. Not only will you excel in your chosen career, but you’ll also bring significant value to every project and team that you helm. In every industry, there’s always a high demand for good managers with the business skills that make them great leaders.
If you would like to develop your leadership skills, Benedictine University’s Online Master of Business Administration program can help you take hold of your success. Call 866-295-3104 to speak with a Program Manager or request more information.
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Even if your job title doesn’t include “manager,” there’s a good chance you’ll have to handle some management duty sometime in your career. And, as an entrepreneur, you’re already a manager, because almost every one of your responsibilities has some management element to it.
In short, your employees are the ones making your vision a reality, and your job is to make sure they do it efficiently.
But being an effective manager is about more than just driving your employees to work harder — or more efficiently. Forcing employees to work a certain way can breed resentment, even disloyalty, while being too soft can lead to bad habits, laziness or boredom. There’s no “right” management style, as each employee and company is going to have an individual perspective.
But there are some universally “wrong” ways to manage. Avoid them by following these 10 “golden” rules of effective management:
1. Be consistent.
This is the first rule because it applies to most of the others. Before your management approach can be effective, it must be consistent. You must reward the same behaviors every time they appear, discourage the same behaviors when they appear and treat every member of your team with an equal, level-headed view.
2. Focus on clarity, accuracy and thoroughness in communication.
How you communicate to your team can dictate your eventual success. When relaying instructions, recapping meetings or just doling out company updates, strive for the clarity, accuracy and thoroughness of your communication. This goes for any other medium, whether that means in-person communication, email or a phone call. Clarity, accuracy and thoroughness are the best way to avoid miscommunication and keep your team on the same page.
3. Set the goal of working as a team.
If you want your team members to work together, have them work for something together. Setting goals just for the department or one individual breeds a limited mentality and forces team members to remain isolated. Instead, give staffers a unified focus and purpose, to inspire them together.
4. Publicly reward and recognize hard work.
When a member of your team does something exceptional, reward him/her — with a bonus, a small trophy or even just a vocal recognition. Do this in front of the group; it will make the intended recipient feel good and show the rest of the team that hard work is rewarded. The only caveat goes back to rule one: Be consistent in your rewards so you won’t be seen as playing favorites.
5. Be the example.
As the manager and leader, you should set an example in terms of your behavior. If you show up late, your team will be less punctual. If you lose your temper easily, others will be amiss in keeping their emotions in check. Strive to be your own ideal of the perfect worker, especially in front of the team.
6. Never go with ‘one-size-fits-all.’
Your team is comprised of individuals with unique preferences, strengths, weaknesses and ideas. Never use the exact same approach to motivate, encourage or mold all of them. Focus on individuals, and customize your approach to fit each one.
7. Remain as transparent as possible.
Transparency shows your integrity as a leader, and builds trust with the individual members of your team. If you lie about something, or withhold information, you could jeopardize your relationships and the respect you command as a leader.
8. Encourage all opinions and ideas.
The more people you have actively participating in discussions and attempting to make improvements to the organization, the better. Never chastise a team member for voicing an opinion respectfully — even if it goes against your original vision or isn’t well thought out. Cutting someone down for voicing an opinion builds resentment, and discourages people from sharing their own new thoughts.
9. Help people enjoy work.
You don’t need a pool table or dress code abolition to make work fun. You can make the workday more enjoyable with such new elements as surprise lunch outings, a dedicated break room or even just casual conversations with your workers. Help your people enjoy coming to work, and they’ll do their best work for you.
10. Listen and ask questions.
If someone doesn’t agree with your management style or doesn’t like the direction of the company, don’t silence that person. Listen. And ask questions of your entire team: What do you think of this? How do you feel about that? This open dialogue makes it easier to proactively identify problems and work together to create a mutually beneficial environment. It will also make your employees feel appreciated and acknowledged.
As you’ll notice, these rules leave plenty of wiggle room to apply your own personal “brand” of leadership and management. They stand as fundamental truths, considerations and principles that govern an effective management role rather than a strict instruction manual to success. Stay true to these principles in addition to your own, and you’ll unify your team in a rewarding and enriching environment.
There’s a common saying that goes, “employees follow managers…not companies.” Managers are the force that create and maintain a thriving work atmosphere for their employees, engaging and motivating individuals to success, and inspiring them to follow the greater company vision. Good managers are one of the greatest assets to any company and share the common characteristics below.
If you’re new to management, an introduction course on basic management theory is available.
Superior communication skills. A good manager is your classic communication expert. Promoting a work environment where everyone feels valued and heard takes excellent communication skills and practice. Frequent and effective communication through multiple channels (in-person, email, phone, even voice-over IP) strengthens your ties with your employees to encourage trust and limit conflict.
A rule of thumb is to always listen first, ask questions, and then facilitate to direct with the answers and solutions at hand. Listening is especially important when employees are sharing ideas, in a team gathering, or when emotions are high. After hearing what’s said, take some time to ask questions on how the task or problem can be solved. Concentrate on solutions, not problems. Then you should be able to facilitate the conversation into a process to create next-steps for the team.
As mentioned before, frequent communication is important for everyone to be on the same page. Take a proactive approach by initiating a series of positive check-ins, an open door policy, and not waiting until conflict arises to communicate effectively with your team.
Improve or refresh your communication skills with this communications skill course.
Leading with transparency and honesty. Everyone hates being kept in the dark. Whenever possible, update your team on anything from small successes/concerns to large restructuring possibilities so that they are aware of what’s going on at all times. Even if the issue at hand does not pertain directly to them, it helps to assure that they are an integral part of the company and that their support and understanding is valued.
Supporting your employees with clear direction and removing their roadblocks for them. You are on their side and they need to feel that at all times. Be clear with your expectations for them – have them create S.M.A.R.T. goals or something similar and go through it with them. Then help them succeed with all the (reasonable) requests for technology or time that they need. See if there’s any additional training that the company can send them to if the budget allows.
Embracing technology. A good manager always keeps an eye out of technology that will promote the productivity of the team. Though some employees may be resistant to change, the bottom line is that technology may be able to take care of the more tedious aspects of their job responsibilities, which frees up time to be more strategic in their thinking. Assign a few team members to research and sign-up for certain products, such as project management software trials, and report back to you and the team. This way, it is a team decision to adopt a certain system.
Motivating with positive feedback and recognition. You can never praise someone too much! If an employee is doing a great job, be sure to recognize it privately and in the general office space so that he or she feels appreciated. At the same time, if there’s an employee that needs some improvement, let them know that you’re aware of the situation and that you’re there to help through constructive criticism. Never criticize in public.
An expert in the field. Being a leader means also means that you need to have answers to some, if not all, of the questions. A good manager is an authority in the industry and understands each role of the company. Consider some training sessions for your team that allow you to share some new strategies and refresh on methods to keep your team learning from you.
Mediating with productivity and calmness. Unfortunately, many managers report that a large portion of their time goes toward conflict resolution and mediating between employees, and sometimes between employees and clients. Even if it’s more personal than business-related, do not ignore the emotions of your employees. Doing so will create unnecessary and possibly harmful distance between you and the employee, eroding the trust in your relationship and compromising productivity in the workplace. When approached with a situation, be sure to stay calm and use the rules of effective communication to resolve the issue – listen, question, facilitate, and direct. Allow your employees to address their emotions and issues so you can help them move beyond it with an effective solution and get back to productivity.
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Promoting cross-level and cross-functional collaboration. Many companies have their teams “working in silos”, where they only immerse themselves in their whole process without the greater understanding of what’s happening in the company as a whole. Encourage employees to spend some time sharing their projects with other departments or implement a mentorship program. On a recreational level, cross-team lunches or retreats do wonders for employees getting to know each other.
Creating a productive and lively work environment. Team spirit is a wonderful thing. Make sure to set aside time for your employees to get to know each other personally, such as small office celebrations for birthdays, etc. At meetings, create team challenges to get their competitive juices going – nothing bonds a team like a contest. Or have an employee set up a humor board where employees can contribute jokes or funny pictures. Also, emphasize that you are part of the team by consistently asking them what you can do for them to make the office a better workplace.
Trusting your employees. Micromanaging, unless specifically requested by your employee, is rarely a good thing. After you’ve clearly laid the tasks and expectations, trust them to do the best job they can. You are their leader and to acquire their trust, you must lead by example.