I have a guest post today on my favorite topic, Leadership. Thanks Jessica for sending this one to me and for your patience in getting it posted. Please add your feedback and comments once you’ve read this.
The manager has been a fixture of the workplace since the Industrial Revolution and the resultant factory- and goods-based economy; it was in that context that the primary role of management—distribution of labor, enforcement of deadlines, and insurance of set production outputs—developed. The economy and the workplace have changed dramatically since, but the concept of management has changed little.
Leadership, on the other hand, isn’t traceable to any particular economy or sociopolitical environment, and its principles remain as relevant today as they were 1,000 years ago. Human beings have always been drawn to leaders, whether in the personal, political, or professional spheres. Leaders have always inspired trust, secured loyalty, optimized output and radicalized entrenched procedure within their chosen fields.
Even though leaders don’t necessarily make good managers and not all good managers make good leaders, it’s not difficult to integrate the principles of leadership into those of good management, improving your management skills along the way. This improvement process is important in any mid to large business and having a human resources management plan or strategy to help people develop those skills is crucial.
Five Tips on Improving Management through Leadership
Model your expectations of employee conduct and output at all times. Remember that your employees are always watching. Want to see more timeliness and efficiency from your employees? Get to work 5 minutes early every single day and stay 5 minutes late. Analyze your own routine for time spent on non-work related activity, such as web-surfing, chit-chatting, or procrastinating. Eliminating these things from your own routine will set a strong and lasting example for your employees.
Also, keep in mind that you are one of your company’s influential representatives. At work and in public, your behavior should embody your employer’s mission statement and core values. Avoid doing or saying anything that could discredit the company’s image. Never go against ethical procedure, and keep in mind that just because you make rules doesn’t mean you can break them. That is the quickest way to lose the respect of your employees, your most valuable asset.
Quick and Dirty: Managers tell their employees what to do; leaders show their employees how to be.
Never assume that passing blame for a mistake onto someone else, whether that person is above or below you on the corporate ladder, gets you off the hook, especially with your employees. When mistakes happen, the fastest and easiest way to fix them is always to focus on the solution and not the problem. The time and effort it takes to shuffle blame is always better spent on resolving the issue. Once that’s done, it’s important to figure out what went wrong and establish measures to prevent future occurrences. You won’t be able to do that if you’ve lost your employees’ respect.
Quick and Dirty: Managers fix mistakes; leaders prevent them.
3- Be Loved, Not Feared
The personal qualities that attract us to leaders—trustworthiness, sensitivity, and enthusiasm—seem obvious, but they’re also some of the most elusive, as they may require an ongoing conscious effort. Don’t be ashamed of yourself if they don’t come naturally. In fact, they rarely do. That’s why leaders are so appealing in the first place.
Start earning the trust of your employees by trusting them first. Don’t micro-manage unless absolutely necessary and even then, take steps to insure that it doesn’t become a long-term practice. Remain cognizant of the fact that for most people, genuine praise is a better motivator than a reprimand or a warning. Find an aspect of your professional life that inspires your passion, whether it’s the opportunity to improve company output, the satisfaction of working in your field, or the basic fact that you are learning how to perform your job well, and let it inform your behavior at work. Your enthusiasm will prove infectious.
Quick and Dirty: Managers keep employees in line; leaders make them happy.
Be aware of what you say and how you say it, at all times. Never gossip, denigrate, or humiliate another person in the workplace, and be particularly sensitive in your delivery of constructive criticism, making sure to do it in a private setting.
Remain equally conscious of your listening skills. Your employees are all experts on their own duties and experience in your workplace. If an employee approaches you with a question, complaint, concern, or suggestion, hear that person out. If you can’t offer your full attention in the moment, schedule the conversation for the near future, and listen carefully for a set period of time, depending on the depth and complexity of the issue, before responding. Try not to interrupt unless absolutely necessary.
Finally, be sure to communicate in the medium most appropriate for what you have to say. All major issues with employee performance or deliverables should be addressed in-person whenever possible; use email, memos, and other written documentation to preserve vital instructions and policies; and reserve use of the phone for times when you can actually converse, not multi-task.
Quick and Dirty: Managers instruct; leaders communicate.
As a manager, you’re in a unique position in the workplace. Unlike your employers, you don’t just have responsibilities, you also have (at least some) flexibility in how you meet them. Your employer shares your long-term goals: improving employee efficiency, growing the consumer base, and saving the company money; your employees share your daily experience and practices. The resultant perspective is an ideal one from which to innovate.
So always keep your employees’ experiences and observations in mind when brainstorming long-term solutions. Don’t forget that you have the power to advocate for your employees’ good ideas, as well as your own. Never hesitate to bring an employee’s innovation to an employer out of fear he or she will wonder why you didn’t think of it first. It’s your job to apply your employees’ ideas to your employer’s concerns so that your employer doesn’t have to.
Quick and Dirty: Managers maintain good practices; leaders create them.
The Bottom Line
While there’s some debate around the finer points, the essential difference between a manager and a leader is simple: managers—whether good, bad, or mediocre—are all cast from the same mold; every leader is different. Your personality, experience, and priorities will play a large part in the leader you become. Take pride in your performance, treat yourself and others with respect, and don’t try to change who you are. The manager who knows how to lead maximizes employee and employer satisfaction, and that makes everyone happy.
This guest post was provided by Jessica Edmondson who is a contributor on strategic management training and online education for the University Alliance, a division of Bisk Education, Inc. You can reach Jessica via email at Jessicafirstname.lastname@example.org.
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