In our daily lives, the term management means any activity that is undertaken to keep things up and running. In the corporate world, the definition doesn’t change much. In the new era, the most important leadership skills for managers are going through a phase shift in 2019.
To have well-oiled management, you must have all the pre-requisite leadership skills for managers. And with the advent of technology and inclusive work structure, the leadership skills for managers are also going through a phase shift.
Before going through with the do’s and don’ts, let’s look at the origin of the word 'Skill'. The word skill comes from the old Norse literature which means discernment and knowledge.
So it gives us a decent idea of what these skill sets for managers must include. Effective leaders must have the ability to judge well and must have a repository of in-depth knowledge.
But that's just the gist of it. To have an appropriate idea of the skill-set a strong leader must possess to solve problems, we first need to take a few preliminary peeks.
Firstly what exactly a manager does.
Secondly what problems might arise in during your managerial campaign.
The Job Description
Before taking the baby steps you must learn how to crawl. This is the preliminary stage. You need to understand the roles of a manager. As you would know, the answer is not straight forward role.
Here is a compilation of the most obvious or rather misinterpreted roles that managers have.
This is probably the most crucial bit of a manager’s task. The manager needs to plan and strategize his course of actions with his team. Good managers are strategic leaders who strategize months of work beforehand. Management and leadership go hand in hand. If you don’t manage your tasks and time, you won’t be a good manager. Period.
Your strategy should follow a definite course of action.
Describe to your team the goal, plan, resources, and budget.
Introduce some form of accountability with the distribution of task and resources.
The missing element in previous endeavors(if any) should be identified.
Don't miss our podcast on: Exploring the differences between Leadership and Management
2. Balancing, Coordinating And Being A Good Manager
This part involves organizing your company’s resources and to efficiently reach the team goal.
Being a good manager involves undertaking a few tasks efficiently.
Collection of feedback and working on them.
Risk analysis of the project at hand.
Controlling the finances and optimum allocation of the finances.
Organizing teams and departments.
Good managers support the efforts of their subordinates and guide them to be efficient members of the organization.
3. Dealing With Clients.
Probably the most important part, because this one drives sales and business.
Since you are the face and ring leader of the team, you will have to deal with all the clients and drive results for them. You will be the one who will be giving the presentation, the one who will be pitching.
Any shortcomings and you have to face the music. You have to strategize the direction in which the project is going to run and have to develop methods to optimize your organizations’ action plan.
Dealing with clients is one of the must-have leadership skills for managers.
The Associated Problems
Most of the task undertaken by managers are solving problems and making decisions. So, it is of vital importance to understand the kind of problems that can affect the industry or the team. The mistake happens when problem-solving becomes a reactionary process.
Young leaders and managers often get stuck in a loop. The loop of reacting to a problem the same way they had reacted the previous time. And the previous time. And so on. This is due to a reactionary approach to the problems taken by managers.
Good managers often take a rational approach rather than a reactionary one.
So, it is vital for management and leadership to have an organized approach to problem-solving.
Here are a few problems faced by new managers and also by veterans.
1. New Role, New Mindset, And A Great Manager
This is the first problem faced by all new managers. A sudden(or is it ?) change in a role often leaves new managers perplexed regarding their role.
Suddenly you are no longer a regular entry-level employee and have to now manage a team of subordinates.
It is vital for you to handle all the flying egos in the room properly to be a great manager. Your soft skills and daft approach will work as scissors to cut the tension in the team.
Listen to your subordinates and don’t let your ego come in the way. Developing your soft skills and emotional intelligence will go a long way in fitting in with the new role.
2. Effective Communication, Effective Leaders
Having a culture of effective communication is of utmost importance for new managers( also the veterans). A team which listens is a team which is effective.
Optimizing the communication nuances will help the team to work on its strengths and also fix its weakness. Having an ineffective communication in the workplace is a for disaster.
If you are already an experienced leader and manager don’t take for granted the methods implemented by you. Every team is different and have to dealt in a unique way.
What worked 2 years ago might not solve the communication problem between Ross and Rachel today.
3. Quality Or Productivity?
This is one of the more serious issues to be addressed by the managers. Most managers make the mistake of identifying the relationship between quality and productivity as inversely proportional.
The view of ordinary managers is that if the quality is to be improved then productivity will decrease and vice-versa.
What separates great leaders from ordinary ones is their ability to strike a fine balance between the two. The ultimate aim for an organization is to increase its revenue and that is possible when quality and productivity gets balanced.
4. So What Do We Do With The Underperformers?
There are good employees and there are not so good ones. The better employees are an asset to the company( isn't it obvious?). But how do you deal with the not so good ones?
The first step is obvious, you will help those employees with any personal issues and motivate them to perform up to the mark. One of the tasks also involves sitting with them and understanding where exactly the deficiency is being created.
If the employees are putting enough effort but not generating adequate results, then you need to reconfigure the working strategy and help them.
If its the effort that's causing the problem, then the problems run deeper. You need to understand why the effort is not adequate. You will have to motivate them and help them work harder. They should consent to receiving criticism due to their poor work.
If in the end, you cannot find a way out to solve this problem, then you have no other but to ease them out of the organization.
5. The Hiring Problem
It doesn’t matter how large your company is or how effective your employee engagement is. Employee turnover(what about attrition?) is bound to happen.
So in the end, you have to hire new people. And we know how hiring the right talent can be a headache.
Don’t get us wrong, hiring is probably the easiest( also fun?) part of your managerial campaigns. But hiring the right fit is the real hassle.
Strong leaders and successful managers have a knack for finding great talents.
This is probably due to enhanced soft skills and high emotional intelligence which enables them to gaze through the applicants' personality.
Also, your team members should be happy with the new employee. On top of having the essential skills, the new talent should also have superior soft skills and also interpersonal skills.
Gain more insights on: 8 types of Leadership Styles
The Essential Skills For Successful Manager
Now that we went through what the job description and what the problems are, we can tackle the skills required by managers. The skills will definitely hover around the job description and the problems faced.
This will help us relate the skills with the practicality of the situation. Your journey to being a good leader starts here.
1. Plan, Organise And Solve Problems
Mid-level managers or junior managers may not be directly involved in drafting and planning the company’s policies but still, managers have to plan and strategize to some extent.
The planning and organizing are generally to solve problems that might occur in your team. In addition to that, you might have to strategize according to personal plans and changing circumstances in the organization.
Simplifying, planning involves identifying your objectives and setting realistic goals. What separates great leaders from the mediocre ones is that they take their leadership roles seriously. What we mean by “seriously” is that they plan months( sometimes years) ahead.
There are a few key deliverables which you need to address when we mean planning and organizing.
Optimizing your business goals and methods.
Identifying the risks and compensations for all the stakeholders.
Solving Problems and optimizing the solutions.
Study and research the previous plan and the flaws associated with it.
When we talk about leadership skills for managers, effective communication takes the cake. Successful managers possess adequate soft skills and emotional intelligence to amplify internal communication in the team. Having good communication skills help you to drive your point home with your team members.
It is often seen that there is discrepancy within team members regarding the objective and goal. This is generally due to ineffective communication both from your side and within the team
Also, during the hiring of new talents, attrition in the workplace spikes due to misinterpreted job description. This misinterpretation is often due to ineffective communication on your part.
A proper and clean communication channel allows you to delegate tasks, command and communicate effectively. Proper inside communication also makes your employees consent to receiving criticism and feedback.
The key deliverables when we address an effective communicator are-
Non-Verbal Fluency i.e. business mails, business proposals etc.
3. Distribution And Delegation
Great leaders have the skill of proper distribution and delegation of tasks to their subordinates.Superior distribution and delegation skills are great leadership skills for managers.
A leader or manager cannot be expected to do all the work for the team. So it is vital that managers have delegation and distribution as one of the must-haves in their skill sets bag.
You can identify that all these skills are connected with each other and you are not wrong. With proper communication and superior emotional intelligence, you are likely to identify the skill sets of your employees. This enables managers to optimize their delegation process.
With proper identification, you can also delegate or identify your second in command. This enables you to focus on stuff that needs urgent attention.
The key deliverables in distribution and delegation are-
Resource allocation to your subordinates.
Identifying skill sets of your subordinates.
Prioritizing the tasks at hand.
Measuring previous distribution and delegation efficiency.
4. Essentially Flexible
No matter how rigid your plan and structure might be, mishaps are bound to happen. These mishaps escalate in its severity when it is last minute. Your leadership skills will be appreciated when you are flexible in your approach and solve problems creatively.
A very rigid office structure often fails when faced with a contemporary problem.
Flexibility can be enhanced by receiving constant feedback from your employees and working on them. Both management and leadership must work on the feedback received.
If employees are dissatisfied with any aspect of the organization, then appropriate steps should be taken.
Feedback and flexibility must get incorporated with the business model too.
If any standard business model doesn’t seem to be working in the contemporary market, then you should revamp your business strategy.
Also, your office culture must have an attitude of constant learning. Conduct regular session to educate your employees on new business practices.
Learning about the latest business practice makes your business foolproof against changing winds.
One more ignored facet in this area is that businesses and managers are not aware of the new problems. New problems which didn’t exist a decade ago often creeps up without warning. Few areas which you should look out for in 2019 are-
The key deliverables in the area of flexibility are-
Learning new skills, both for yourself and your employees
Promoting a feedback culture in the workplace.
Being adaptable to new problems and circumstances.
Identification of new problems.
5. Be Creative
As a leader, being creative is one of the leadership skills for managers. Often you will have to face a lot of situations where there are no definite answers. You will have to break the gridlock and look for answers beyond the conventional.
In fact, being creative is one of the key ways in which you can impress your subordinates. Employees generally look up to people who can approach a problem in a non-conventional way.
Also being non-conventional will also help you climb the ranks in the corporate ladder as the executive tier appreciates people who stretch their job description.
The key deliverables in this area are-
Visualization of problems.
Connecting abstract ideas during the planning of a new project.
Identifying patterns in all the problems.
In-depth analysis of the task at hand.
We Get It, It's Not That Easy
Yes, we do, it's not easy being a great manager. There are a lot of challenges that have to be dealt with to develop these leadership skills for managers.
You have to keep track of everything in your team for proper functioning. Take more responsibility if needed. Develop new skills. Do everything you think will benefit your team.
The best thing is that you are the leader and you have the required flexibility for experimentation. You don’t have to stick to your job description.
Stretch out. Explore.
In the end, the main leadership skills for managers are to solve problems and drive sales(in one way or another), isn’t it?