What turns a good manager into a great leader?
Someone might land in a management role due to their accrued skills and technical experience/expertise, but they might not have any experience inspiring, motivating and engaging a team.
However, with the right support, the enthusiasm and drive those people have shown for their own professional development can be turned into a passion for inspiring others.
Here are some simple ideas that can help support your managers into becoming strong leaders who bring out the best in others:
Plenty of managers say ‘my door is always open’. How many of them really mean it? Connecting to your team members as individuals, rather than just parts of a team, helps you understand what motivates them, what their ambitions are and what their hidden strengths are. Regular one-to-ones help build the habit, but chats around the water cooler or a walk to get a coffee help build a culture of trust and openness.
To build trust, the people in your team need to know who they’ll get when they come to you with an idea or problem. A volatile, unpredictable or moody leader will make a team feel uncertain and less likely to share bad news or good. It doesn’t mean leaders must be emotionless robots, it just means responding with a clear head and a calm demeanour, so everyone gets the same response, rooted in your strategic goals.
It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot these days, for good reason. Empathic leadership is about recognising that the people in your team bring their “whole” selves to work, not just their work selves. If somebody is short-tempered with others or their performance has slipped, they may well have “life” things going on that are distracting them. Finding ways to support those people, rather than criticise or micro-manage them, gives them the space to address their situation and come back better than before.
Giving feedback, especially when it can be taken as criticism is one of the most challenging parts of good leadership – and it requires a combination of connection, consistency and empathy. The crucial thing is to address issues as quickly as possible, be specific in what you want to address and be constructive rather than critical. Approach the feedback as an opportunity for development for the person involved.
All of these approaches work together to help leaders develop social and emotional intelligence to sit beside their technical and intellectual talents. They apply equally to executives and human resource teams trying to build leaders, as they do to leaders trying to develop teams of employees.
Managers who understand how to lead others are crucial in a business as they are an important connection between strategic decisions made at executive level, and the successful execution of those plans.