Management skills are important to keep your company running optimally and growing a team of employees who truly enjoy working for you. A happy team with high morale translates to better business all around. Your overall retention will be stronger and you’ll progressively fine-tune your management skills into true leadership skills.
A great leader is different than a great manager in a few significant ways. Leaders learn from everyone by listening and incorporating everyone as a part of one team. Leaders also project an optimistic persona and strive to be a positive role model through their own behavior. The goal of leadership is to bring everyone together to work towards accomplishing the same goal.
There are several effective ways to improve upon your skills as a manager which will prepare you for a great leadership role:
1. Set Expectations for Yourself
Write down your own list of goals so you can monitor your own progress for getting things done. Be specific in what you expect from yourself during the process of becoming a better manager and an effective leader. Keep updating your list as you work with your team and improve your skills as a leader.
2. Learn Directly from Feedback
As a manager, you can learn almost everything you need to know directly form the source. Listen to the feedback both customers and employees are providing. This may involve more interaction with customers or clients on a regular basis. For staff, keep an open-door policy for discussing complaints as well as compliments.
3. Improve Effective Listening Skills
During these meetings you need to learn how to truly listen. This means allowing the other side to speak freely, without interruption, until they are done their thoughts. The discussion can start after they’ve shared their concerns. When your staff knows you are genuinely listening they will be more apt to share their thoughts.
4. Include Employees in Brainstorming Sessions
Offer encouragement to your employees to be creative and bring their own ideas to the table. It is the employees doing the work every day and are most likely to have the best grasp of any situation. People like to feel they have something to offer and by confirming their value, they will be inclined to help your business grow and continue finding success.
5. Be an Effective Role Model
If you are always late for meetings, it’s not logical to expect your team to be on time. Stay on top of your game to set the right example for your employees. Your level of enthusiasm and openness will also influence how your staff relates and reacts to you. Be a fountain of positivity and lead the way for others. Be the role model you would have appreciated having in your own life.
6. Gauge How Others Perceive You
In order to understand how to relate to your team, you need to acknowledge how they relate to you. Take note of how your staff reacts in your presence. Do they seem relaxed? Tense? Nervous? By learning more about how people perceive you personally, you can focus on making positive steps towards changing any negative perceptions to positive ones.
7. Respond to the Needs of Your Staff
Understanding how people perceive you is only part of the equation. You also need to be in tune with what your staff needs. This comes through listening and asking questions. In general, most people need and want to feel appreciated but some groups of employees hold different value sets. They want to know they can trust their leader first and foremost. Find out what your team needs from you and take steps to deliver those things.
8. Understand the Company as a Whole
To be an effective leader, you need to understand the big picture – from the top of the company all the way down. Coordinate with other leaders regularly on a company-wide basis so the entire team is on the same page. Work with the other leaders in the company to ensure everyone is on the same page, using the same strategies. Employees’ confidence will build when they continue to receive the same message from everyone in a leadership position.
9. Strive to Be an Effective Facilitator
As a manager, you have a duty to facilitate communication between your staff and higher management. Being an effective facilitator means you take the information learned from upper management about strategies, expectations, and goals to be implemented and effectively translate that information to your team in a clear and concise manner.
10. Be Willing to Admit When You’re Wrong
Being a good leader means you won’t be right all of the time. Being a great leader means you are willing and able to admit to your team when you are wrong. It takes courage to admit mistakes but showing your team you are only human too can help them feel confident in your abilities. It opens the door for more honesty and stronger teamwork.
11. Be Authentic
If you try to be someone you are not in your leadership role, people will quickly see right through you. This can translate into your team developing trust issues. People respect those who can be their true selves. To be an effective leader, you have to develop your own set of leadership skills rather than act like someone you are not. Being a genuine person can go a long way to positively influencing your staff.
5 Types of Leadership Styles
Leadership styles are not a one-size-fits-all situation. There is a variety of leadership styles and depending on the environment in which you work, the style of leadership you practice could make a big difference in the effectiveness of your direction and the productivity of your team.
Here are five common leadership styles:
- The Pace-Setting Leader– This type of leader strives for excellence in their team with a goal of establishing a group of employees who are self-directed. This style of leadership works best when employees are already motivated to accomplish a goal and the situation warrants fast results. When a team is not yet geared up to complete a goal, the pace-setting style of leadership can be overwhelming to staff and have a negative impact on creativity.
- The Authoritative Leader – This kind of leadership sets a common goal for their team members but allows individuals to work however they need to inorder to get the job done. The authoritative leader is effective when innovation is necessary for developing new ideas and strategies. An authoritative leader’s main goal is to spark enthusiasm and drive the entrepreneurial spirit in team members. It is not as effective when working with highly skilled experts in a chosen field who may be more knowledgeable than their leader.
- The Affiliative Leader – The affiliative leader works from a standpoint of emotion. The ultimate goal of this kind of leader is to bring people together and focus on building a stronger, emotionally-bonded team. Leaders stay focused on nurturing and praising their team for a job well done every step of the way. This leadership style can be highly effective when the work environment is highly stressful or trust issues have developed among team members and management. However, using only this type of leadership style at all times can lead to a team becoming too comfortable and reliant on constant praise which can decrease productivity and morale.
- The Coach – Those practicing a coaching leadership style will focus on developing staff members for future success. This type of leadership is best used when the goal is to build a strong, confident team in general and not just for a specific project. This leadership style can have a negative impact if staff is not willing to learn or make the necessary changes. It can also backfire if the leader is not skilled at utilizing this type of leadership style.
- The Coercive Leader- This type of leadership style is one which relies on the team responding immediately to do what they are told. This kind of leadership style can be useful when emergency situations arise and immediate results and actions are required. This is the most structured and controlled type of leadership style and will be highly effective in the right situations. Using this style all of the time is never recommended as it can quickly reduce the morale, creativity, and enthusiasm of the team. It can also break a team apart as people often feel unappreciated and undervalued.
- The Democratic Leader – The goal of the democratic leader is to encourage the entire team to participate in the planning, goal-setting, and solution to the situation. An effective democratic leader often asks team members for their own personal thoughts, opinions, and ideas. It is an effective leadership style when the team needs to take ownership of project to see it through to completion. This type of leader will not be effective during times of crisis when decisive, informed decisions need to be made.
Possessing a mix of leadership styles is required to be the most effective leader possible. Ideally, being able to gauge a situation and decide what kind of leadership skills are necessary to best handle specific situations or to accomplish general goals, is the mark of a great leader.
NSA has a number of great leaders on our team and we look forward to working with you and your organization. Contact us today if you would like information about our professional services to distributors or cloud-based solutions for all businesses.