21 DEC, 2016

5 Tips to Improve Your Leadership Skills

man giving presentation to group of people

This post originally appeared at TLNT Talent Management and HR.

Gallup estimates that manager’s account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Team effectiveness depends on good managers, which is challenging when you consider that teams are comprised of people with different motivators, needs, expectations, and performance. And the responsibility of making the team effective depends directly on the manager.

“The higher you go in an organization, the more you’re expected to make decisions on which you might not have direct experience or expertise,” Roger Schwarz told Harvard Business Review. “It’s a beginning of the shift in your career.”

If you’re a manager looking to improve your leadership skills, here are five tips to help you on your path:

1. Understand your weaknesses

Contrary to what some managers believe, a smart manager doesn’t have to be the smartest person in the room. Instead, they need to know how to leverage employee strengths and ask the right questions to help the team achieve success. Managers don’t need to have all the answers. In fact, admitting mistakes or weaknesses demonstrates your strength as a leader.

2. Remove barriers

Understand that your role as a manager isn’t to do all of the work—get clear about your role, and what you can delegate, then let your team members utilize their strengths to solve problems. Assist them by removing barriers that arise.

3. Create a cadence of accountability

Be clear about action items and team member responsibilities. When you establish accountability for assignments, employees can stay on track and are more likely to perform. If they don’t perform or meet expectations, hold employees accountable. And hold yourself accountable to the same expectations: if you consistently ignore missed deadlines, mistakes, or underperformance, employees won’t trust or respect you as a manager.

4. Master time management

Nobody appreciates a manager who is constantly “fighting fires” or creating a “fire drill” because they forgot about a deadline or don’t know how to prioritize for the team or themselves. Develop a standard project cycle and use it as a reference when you take on team projects. Facilitate a discussion amongst the team to outline the process from start to finish. This will provide everyone with a guideline for how your work—and theirs—will be managed.

5. Build trust

Trust is one of the most important things you need in the workplace. But if you look at the research, it’s just not there—one in three employees don’t trust their managers. Without trust between a manager and their employees, it’s impossible for a team to thrive. If you’re a manager, what can you do to establish trust? Suggestions from the Edelman Trust Barometer include:

  • Be open and honest with employees.
  • Exhibit ethical behavior.
  • Take action when needed.
  • Share personal history and values.
  • Engage in societal issues.

Most importantly, forget the idea that you can’t develop the skills you need to be an effective manager. With a commitment to personal awareness and a sense of ownership for your team members’ success, you can become a manager who builds engagement and creates a culture in which everyone is encouraged and empowered to succeed.


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