Chances are, if you’ve spent any time at all engaging with the corporate world, you’ve got the word management bursting out of your ears. At some point in our adult lives, we’ve all had to deal with some kind of manager. You may even be one yourself. Within this world we know to be normal, everything is managed. It is important to understand how crucial management is, as it sets the framework for how a business needs to function. If it is done right, it can mean a fantastic work environment and the exponential growth of a company. However, as a role it is rather poorly understood by most, remaining limited to doing just what the title states; managing a situation, a project or a team. Managers tend to overlook the importance of their own character and the value of having employees follow them, rather than merely work for them. Consequently, for employees, dealing with managers can often feel quite systematic and impersonal. Problems seem to be tackled by following strict protocol. Loyalty is underrated and new ideas only materialize with great difficulty, largely due to barriers in communication. To top it off, life outside of anyone’s role in the company is often made out to be totally irrelevant. The bottom line for the business? Everybody feels like a mere number, performing their function, and nothing more. Growth is stunted and innovation is a pain point.
In their role as manager, many do crave better results but seem to feel quite lost within their guidelines. It is rare to find managers who take their duties and make them passions, turning something that is simply managed, into something that is flourishing. How do they do it? Leadership.
I introduce to you a series of 10 tips that will help you earn full trust and respect from your team members. This way, you can become a leader within your role as manager, or get the boost you need to step up to the role you really want.
To open the subject, I will say that the path to becoming the best leader you can be, is tied to that of becoming the best person you can be. Therefore, the advice to come is largely based on calibrating your moral compass.
Leadership Tip 1 – Take an Interest and Listen
First, let’s take the wall down. A great leader is somebody who is easy to talk to and who listens, no matter the rank of the person speaking to them. Don’t fear the ‘waste’ of time that making conversation with an employee might seem to be. A few minutes a day of non-work related conversation will open the doors to easier conversation about everything that is actually critical to the development of the business. Simply taking an interest in what makes your team who they are, and getting to know them on a more personal level, also means that you will be more capable of understanding and fulfilling their needs without them even having to ask for it.
For this series of leadership tips, I’d like to introduce our fictional friend Patrick who is a senior manager, and Stephanie, a junior manager within the same company who works on Patrick’s team. One morning, each on their way to their offices, they cross paths in the hallway. Patrick, instead of walking on with a short “Morning”, as he would usually do, stops and complements the fact that he always sees Stephanie taking the stairs. In response, she explains that she likes to keep active as she suffers from problems with her spine. A few minutes later in his office, Patrick gets thinking, “hmm…desks can be really uncomfortable”, so he organises a standing desk for her to work at when sitting down gets too painful. Stephanie, amazed at how attentive Patrick had been to their conversation, has gained a whole new respect for Patrick.
A couple of days later in their boardroom meeting, Stephanie seems fresh, attentive, and she arrives standing straight as an arrow. Patrick had never known that the pain in her spine was the reason for her distractions, and that she had so much more to give. Besides the extra energy she’s got from being comfortable at her standing desk, the respect she gained for Patrick has also given her a boost in motivation to propose new projects that they could work on together.
The channels for communication are open, Stephanie is comfortable and Patrick has a more motivated team member who is ready to innovate. Everybody wins.