In thinking about leaders and managers, it is easy to romanticize leaders and treat managers with just a little bit of snarky derision. The leader’s ability to inspire with a grand vision is seductive and compelling. A manager hopefully offers competence, which is valued but not inspirational. Thomas Edison understood the value of both leadership and management and summarized the dependency between them, “Vision without execution is just hallucination.” For managers, think execution. For leaders, think vision.
This dichotomy of manager and leader focuses on the skills and styles that push organizations forward, but the reality is that most of the work is done by people who are neither leaders nor managers. What about their preferences?
The needs of people are highly varied. Those with a high need for novelty will likely prefer leaders. Those with a preference for predictability will likely prefer managers. The career stage of an individual will also make a difference, with early career employees typically preferring leaders and late career employees typically preferring managers. While these generalizations may serve as guides, people are amazingly varied and individual.
Both leaders and manager should recognized that their goals will not be met without the hard work of subordinates. Keeping employees happy needs to be an effort, not an afterthought. Both leaders and managers can help themselves by considering employee appreciation ideas and making gratitude part of their style.
The prime goal of a manager is execution, and a good manager will use all tools of business to delivery performance. Applying a people and process framework to a manager, can reveal how a manager will behave. To a manager, a person is a vital unit of production. The manager starts the people piece of the equation with competency. Once the task or job is defined, it must be tackled by an individual with the correct knowledge and skill.
This well-fit individual must then have clear goals and objectives. In turn, the execution of B&O’s must be assessed and ranked for both reward and future improvement purposes. A good manager is not simply mechanistic about employees but recognizes that people must be treated well so that they remain engaged and relatively trouble free, allowing the organization to smoothly move forward.
In the world of process, managers are most at home. The focus of business processes is how things are done. This world is about structure and understanding which person or group is accountable for various components of the structure or system. While a manager views the correct administration of the rules as paramount, he or she will also relish the possibility of revising obsolete or ineffective rules. Process improvement to a manager is steady progress, moving from a current adequate state to a future improved state in a controlled way. A manager believes in evolutionary change.
In the domains of people and process, managers are driven by value and proof of performance. In turn, this leads to a slightly mad respect for Key Performance Indicators. A presentation with one line showing current performance variation and a second trend line showing sustained movement in the right direction is management heaven.
The very definition of leader implies that there are followers. This could lead to a logical conclusion that leaders must be focused on people, which is incorrect. A leader is focused on the vision. It is the only driver. The followers are simply joint participants, drawn by the power of the vision and the leader. Leaders do appreciate followers because followers, properly inoculated, validate the vision and the leader. Leaders also understand that a vision of change is a basic human need. A leader believes in revolutionary change.
Followers are also critical in bringing the vision to fruition, which is the ultimate goal of a leader. Under the guidance of a top leader, followers will make things happen willingly and with zeal. They provide the detailed labor that is needed.
Concerning business processes, leaders will be less disciplined and systematic than managers, possibly even to the point of even being disrespectful or dismissive of structure and process. This trait can be a double-edged sword. Is disregard for established business process a challenging or destructive behavior? It depends. There may be a fine line between the two side of this trait, and that nuance, along with the flexibility and tolerance of the organization, will determine if the leader is creating chaos or transformation,
Tom Edison did not hallucinate. He was an effective manager with the discipline to take care of business. He was also a leader, with visions that created the 2oth century. While he may have been a rare individual who was both a leader and a manager, his success illustrates that an enterprise’s needs both styles and skill sets if it is to succeed.
In order for a business to be successful, it is critical that it implements an effective leadership development strategy. Indeed, within any organisation, the managers should be competent, inspire confidence and set the standard for their team. Ultimately, without strong leadership, it is impossible to achieve peak performance.
With this in mind, we take a closer look at five of the most essential leadership skills for managers to develop.
1. Ability to Motivate
Perhaps the single most important skill a leader must have is the ability to motivate others, and this is why leadership training programmes should place a strong emphasis on motivational strategies. If you cannot inspire other people to work hard and push for results, you will simply fail as a leader.
However, motivation means more than just giving the occasional inspiring team talk. You must foster strong relationships with your team, provide the right incentives, make sure team members feel valued and leverage their own individual qualities, so that they feel willing and able to go the extra mile.
2. Maintaining Integrity
Another important trait shared by all good leaders is integrity. In fact, according to research carried out by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman on behalf of the Harvard Business Review, other leaders rank it as the second most important characteristic for those in management positions to possess.
Integrity and honesty is highly valued by staff members and is essential if you are to gain their respect. You must do what you say you are going to do, avoid telling lies, stand up for what you believe in and be willing to speak out when necessary. You should also avoid misleading people or blaming others for your mistakes.
3. Calmness Under Pressure
Any leader is inevitably going to experience times when things go wrong, results look uncertain, or deadlines look like they may be missed. However, in these times, it is vital that you do not capitulate under pressure. Instead, you need to have confidence in yourself and your team, and try to maintain composure at all times.
“What makes a good leader is the ability to stay calm and in control,” explains Brian Tracy, a sales training expert and the author of the book The Psychology of Achievement. “When you exude confidence in yourself, in the decision, and in the people around you, you instill the same feelings and attitudes in others.”
4. Long-Term Thinking
The business world is extremely results-orientated and this can sometimes encourage short-term thinking, as leaders concern themselves only with meeting the next deadline or meeting their next financial target. Truly great managers, on the other hand, are able to keep the bigger picture in mind.
Long-term decisions are more difficult to make, because they may not pay off instantly. Nevertheless, leadership requires vision and a strong manager is able to make smart decisions and stay the course, with confidence that the eventual pay off will be far greater than if they had implemented another short-term fix.
5. Leading By Example
Finally, the ability to lead by example is paramount. As a manager, you are the role model to your team, so you should be the employee you want to see in the workplace. Avoid emotional outbursts or erratic behaviour, set a high standard of work for employees to match and earn the trust of your subordinates.
Think about the way you dress, the way you conduct yourself, the type of work you do and consider how it makes you look in the eyes of others. A good manager is happy to take initiative and knows when to get their own hands dirty in order to establish credibility and positively shape the behaviour of others.
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director for MHI Global (formerly AchieveGlobal), a global sales training and leadership development company. It specialises in providing exceptional sales management courses and helps organisations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership development training.
Michael Scott, Regional Manager of the fictional paper products company Dunder-Mifflin, is prying, inappropriate, and manipulative. He’s offended everyone he’s worked with or for. And he’s created a hostile working environment time and time again. He’s a great salesman but a bad boss.
But as he would say, he’s not a bad person. He has shown time and again on the mockumentary NBC TV show “The Office”, that there are hints of a good manager in there. He’s risen through the ranks from staff to management. He’s good at recognizing his soft spots (sometimes too good at announcing them). And nobody knows more about his staff and their skills than he does. Here are five examples of traits he showed, ones many bosses could put to good use.
Know the job
Prior to his promotion to management, Michael Scott was one of the most celebrated salespeople in Dunder-Mifflin, winning top sales awards time and time again. He claimed that at least two-thirds of the current prospects for his branch in Scranton were his own personal contacts. Jim Halpert has admitted that he’s impressed with Scott’s skills. So unlike some bosses, he has been in the trenches and walked the walk. Leaders should be aware that the skills one needs to do the job are not the same skills to manage people doing the job.
Admit your faults
Scott is often the first to express his weaknesses and failings. He even declared bankruptcy at one point, albeit by literally standing up and shouting the phrase “I declare bankruptcy”. He did it, though, to the entire staff, a bit of sharing that shows he is well aware how he looks and forges ahead anyway. But he also uses the classic maneuver of turning his weaknesses into strengths. Or pretending to. Same thing, right.
Celebrate your staff
Nobody shows more employee recognition than Michael Scott. He’s ready for a party or celebration or award at the drop of a hat, regardless of what pressing deadline or looming disaster might be coming. Some might say he is simply postponing the disaster, procrastinating, hiding his head in the sand; those people would often be right. It’s still a good idea to stop and smell the roses, and to let your staff know you appreciate them. Scott even leans on someone in his office who loves to plan and set up parties: Angela Martin. Delegation is a great tactical skill for a boss.
Value your skills
When he found out that warehouse manager Daryl was making only slightly less than he was, Scott was unafraid to confront his boss and ask for a raise. At that point, he had been with the company for almost a decade and a half and, despite everything else, had been a productive salesman and weirdly effective manager. He deserved a raise. Bosses should stand up for themselves if they are undervalued, but maybe should champion their underlings, too.
Ask for advice
Scott’s effectiveness as a manager is often tied to chance or his impressive talent for avoiding any decision at all. But one of his better quality as a superior is being able to lean on his staff for advice. Dwight Schrute, Pam Beesly, Jim Halpert, or honestly, everyone he’s ever worked for, can recall a time when Scott came to them begging for advice on what to do. This is a great trait in a boss, but maybe don’t blame them when things go horribly wrong.
All and all, Michael Scott can teach a thing or two about good management.
Health has a tendency to be forgotten when we’re bombarded with a million other things to think about. Leaders are responsible for taking businesses, organizations and teams off the ground and ensuring that they continue to thrive well into the future. This requires an enormous amount of work. Many find themselves sleeping less, skipping exercise, and eating in ways that are far from ideal. Their health suffers as their weight rises in a slow descent to obesity. It is only when they hit rock bottom when they realize that this is an unsustainable lifestyle. To live a fulfilling life, we must learn to prioritize our well-being.
The Cost of Obesity
Interestingly, about half of male CEOs are overweight, while it’s less than a quarter for their female counterparts. This can be a problem on a number of fronts. Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. It may limit mobility, especially on the higher end of the scale.
Obese individuals also tend to be discriminated against when seeking employment. Most employers will prefer a more healthy-looking candidate given virtually identical qualifications. Even if they are able to land a job, studies show their annual pay will be thousands of dollars less on average than those with normal weight.
The negative effects extend to the business itself. Leaders represent their company so they must maintain a good image that reflects the brand’s core values. Obesity distracts people from the message. Speakers cannot talk about living a great life with the products on offer if they look unhealthy themselves. There will be a glaring disconnect between the ideal and reality in the minds of the listeners. They will tune out and seek a more convincing pitch elsewhere.
How Physical Condition Affects Energy Level, Emotional State and Mental Wellbeing
Neglecting our bodies will always have negative consequences. Working long and hard is often applauded in today’s corporate culture. If you’re and the first one in and the last one out with little sleep in between then you are considered a hero. Yet sleeping 2 hours every night will only leave you drowsy all day making you ineffective at your tasks. Many combat this by drinking excessive amounts of coffee but caffeine has its ill effects as well.
When we are feeling weak in the physical sense, our emotions often get clouded as well. Some will feel depressed due to their inability to do the things that comes easy for other people or to their younger selves. Others may become irritable because of the little sleep that they get. Their mood shifts may turn erratic such that they are difficult to deal with. Meanwhile, those who are healthy tend to have a sunnier disposition and are calm even in the face of multiple work pressures.
Our mental wellbeing suffers if we are physically unwell. It gets into our heads. We lose our confidence both due to external and internal causes. We might overhear wayward comments about our weight. We might notice other people staring as we walk past them. Sometimes we might feel sorry for ourselves for the state we’re in. In order to solve the problem, however, we have to take concrete action.
Tips Leaders Can Use Now to Start a Healthier Lifestyle
One thing that leaders know they should do when looking to lose weight is to set realistic goals. Much like an important product or initiative, the change does not come overnight. We must be gentle with ourselves and be generous with the time that we dedicate to any weight loss project. Don’t use unsustainable crash diets. Instead, find meaningful ways to positively change your lifestyle for the long term.
Be mindful of what you buy at the grocery stores. The retail industry has done multiple studies to find the best ways to make their products attractive to consumers. They will modify the colors, the messaging, and even the placement just to increase the chances of getting picked up.
Read the nutrition information to learn what you are actually putting inside your body. List down everything you intended to buy and avoid unplanned purchases. Eat well before shopping as being hungry makes you likely to get more food than you really need. Learn all about the buzzwords to differentiate empty marketing hype from truly beneficial products.
Think about ways in which you can incorporate physical activities into your daily life. Exercise can start modestly with a few short walks throughout the week. Gradually increase the frequency and duration as your body adapts. You might enroll at a gym for group classes or hire a personal trainer if you feel that you need professional guidance.
It’s also possible to go solo all the way with the wealth of information that is available online. The walks might turn into jogs, which can then morph into participation in road races. Wherever the fitness journey takes you, make sure to enjoy the activities so that you’ll look forward to doing them for years to come.