9 Steps to Becoming a Better Manager

Are you a new manager? Or an experienced manager whose people skills might be slipping? Take this refresher course in effective management strategies.

In most businesses, many managers acquire their titles and supervisory responsibilities in the absence of any formal training—or, for that matter, any natural leadership skills.

Even trained managers may occasionally get so busy with their day-to-day responsibilities that they neglect the basics of handling people. Whether you are a new manager or a veteran, take some time out to brush up on these essential skills.

Courtesy 123rf.com
Courtesy 123rf.com

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How to Know if YOU have the Heart of a Leader

Need a coach

There is a whole body of academic work surrounding studies about management versus leadership.

Need a coachOne of the best explanations I know states simply:

Management is about the process. Leadership is about people. ~Doug Thorpe

Being a good manager means business goals (or personal goals) are getting met. The process is working close to or at its peak potential. You, as a manager, can influence the priorities, push the right buttons, and get things done. Some managers make good, solid careers operating at this level. However, there may not be any meaningful impact in the lives of the employees subjected to a ‘pure manager’ approach.

Managers can certainly be decent handlers of their people; fair, honest, respectful, and so forth. But frankly, some managers are not good with people. While results are being posted, the people on the team are slowly feeling disconnected and uninspired.

Leadership takes the influence with people to a whole higher level. Leadership definitely gets the work done and meets or exceeds goals. While that is happening, people are feeling inspired. Team morale is building. Loyalty is growing.

Understanding how to be both an efficient manager and an effective leader takes some work.

In his book “The Heart of Leadership”, Mark Miller tells a story of a young business man named Blake. Blake is struggling at work with his duties as a team leader. He seeks some counsel from a close family friend. I won’t tell all of the story, but the core value comes down to this simple acrostic.

H.E.A.R.T.

The initials stand for:

  • Hunger for wisdom –  keep learning new and different things to improve yourself
  • Expect the best –  set a high standard and maintain your expectations for it
  • Accept responsibility – stop the blame game, take your ownership seriously
  • Respond with courage –  be bold with your decisions
  • Think others first –  be willing to be more of a servant rather than a boss

True leadership does in fact have heart. I like the simple way this can be explained. (By the way, Mark’s book is a great read for anyone struggling in this area).

As with Blake in this story, you might need to seek multiple mentors to guide you in each of these areas. Find role models who fully understand these principles. Soak in their experiences. Begin the journey to apply the teachings to your efforts both in the office and at home.

I promise you will be amazed by the shift in those who report to you, for whom you have influence and impact. When all things are said and done, leadership to inspire and guide people will far outperform pure management. Having a heart for leadership wins the day!

Be a Better Boss | Add Recognition to the Mix

In a recent article featured in the Harvard Business Review, recognition was identified as one of the easiest things you can do to be considered a great boss. According to David Stuart:

“Most leaders receive surprisingly little development before assuming their first supervisory roles. In fact, many get no leadership training at all until they’ve been in the executive ranks for nearly a decade—reaching, on average, age 42.”

Courtesy 123rf.com/ iqoncept
Courtesy 123rf.com/ iqoncept

He goes on, “But whether you’ve had formal training or not, there’s one simple action that can dramatically increase any manager’s success in gaining the support and engagement of subordinates: recognize great work. That means calling out excellent accomplishments by your employees right away—and doing so in consistent and regular increments from the start.”

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Advice to New Managers | Complaints Go Up

First time managers face a big challenge knowing how to channel the complaints they feel about the workplace. In a clip from the epic WWII movie, “Saving Private Ryan”, Tom Hanks as Captain Miller answers a question from one of his men about what to do with complaints.

I could not express this topic any better than the advice given in this clip.

[shareable cite=”Tom Hanks as CPT Miller”]Complaints go UP, always up.[/shareable]

[reminder]What do you do with complaints?[/reminder]