There’s a shift at play in the world of work. Employees are no longer content to work a lifetime in the same job, tacitly accepting poor leadership from their managers in exchange for a monthly salary.
Today, as companies battle to keep employees engaged and people shift jobs regularly when their needs are not met, the conversation is increasingly moving towards the human dynamic of the workplace, and how managers can develop themselves to get the most out of their team.
For those running virtual teams, it is even more important to brush up on your skills as a manager, as you face the challenging task of keeping your remote workers communicative, content, and cohesive. There are some key attributes and skills that great leaders have, and the good news is that these can all be learnt…… and by you.
1. Be a coach, not a dictator.
The old authoritarian ‘top-down’ style of management is no longer in vogue- particularly with the Gen Y generation of employees who want to be listened to and involved in the company’s future.
Learning to be the ‘coach’ of your team requires that you develop your listening skills (did you know that humans only have about 25% comprehension rate when we’re listening to others?), as well as showing empathy and asking great questions.
If you can break the habit of ‘telling’ people how it ‘should’ be done and instead find out what your team players need from you to do a better job, you’ll find that you rapidly join the ranks of the great leaders and command a good deal more respect from your team.
2. Don’t be scared to be outshone.
Certain managers feel insecure in their position, so they often react badly to those who are more talented, intelligent or skilled in certain areas.
Great managers, on the other hand, actively seek out, hire, and encourage those who are at a higher level than they are, as they see clearly that these superstars only improve the team and are great people to learn from.
Richard Branson is a big proponent of surrounding yourself with people to learn from and emulate- and he’s one of many top-level business managers who see this as a clear route to success.
3. Respond, don’t react.
It can be extremely hard to watch a displeasing situation unfold—whether that’s an employee complaining or a project getting derailed— without getting irritated and jumping into control mode.
As a manager, it’s within your prerogative to intervene; the problem is that many managers go off ‘the handle’ by reacting to a trigger without getting the full story or without stopping to genuinely consider the best response.
Pay attention to the reactions in your body when you start to get frustrated, and learn to insert a pause between the stimulus and your response.
4. Build your self-awareness.
This is a hot-topic in leadership circles right now, and we’ve recently written a blog on this very subject as it’s crucial to becoming a better leader. Ways you can increase your self-awareness include delving into your strengths and development areas, finding out what your dominant leadership style is, and keep a diary of your decision-making process so you can identify certain patterns in the way you run your team.
5. Be eternally curious.
By the time we’ve worked our way up to management, our ideas and ways of doing things tend to be entrenched. This can mean that we block ourselves off to exciting new ideas and processes that might revolutionise our team’s performance or sense of engagement.
Therefore, listen with open ears when someone suggests a different way of doing things, ask for feedback on current systems, and keep learning as much as you can about your team/company/industry so you can benefit from fresh, innovative thinking.
6. Learn to manage your time better.
As a manager, you probably feel like you’re being pulled in many directions at once, and whole days and weeks may pass where it can seem like you aren’t making progress on your key goals and vision.
However, most of us make the mistake of prioritising the ‘small stuff’ like non-essential emails over the ‘big stuff’ like budgeting, project milestones, or performance reviews, and we end up wasting a lot of time on petty distractions.
There is always room for better time management in your schedule, whether that’s answering emails/working on projects in allocated blocks of time, learning to say ‘no’ to non-priority requests, or putting a pause on your social media accounts.
The more efficient you are at managing your time, the better leader you will be to your team.
Becoming an exceptional leader is something you can begin learning today. It’s a lifelong process, and one that you’ll never want to stop once you see how your new management techniques radically improve your team’s performance and morale.
And it will do wonders for your confidence too!
Until next time,