The Role of Manager—Then and Now
Once upon a time the term “manager” was interchangeable with “supervisor.” In other words, managers were traditionally seen as simply the team boss charged with getting things done by implementing directions from their leaders. Managers simply executed against the goals that were handed down by the big-picture thinkers, the strategists.  No one tried to help managers to lead better.

But what about now? Today’s work environment asks much more from managers. We know from thousands of new manager training participants that today’s managers play a more critical and influential role. It’s not just about command and control or tactics and execution. The best managers know how to engage their team members and coach them toward higher performance and connections.

Managers and Employee Engagement
We know that employee engagement is heavily influenced by managers. We also know from our annual employee engagement surveys with nearly 5,000 organizations that engaged workforces outperform their unengaged counterparts with 18% greater productivity, 12% higher customer satisfaction, and 51% less voluntary turnover. Those with the greatest influence on engagement —managers — matter!  

Developing Managers into Leaders
What can you do to give managers the key leadership skills they need to influence their team in the most positive way? What skills will managers need to lead their teams now and in the future?

Based upon decades of management training programs, here are the leadership competencies that have the greatest impact:

  1. Communication
    The ability to provide the right information at the right time in the right way for people to do their jobs and feel good about being at work – especially when the stakes are high.

  2. Career Growth and Development
    The growth mindset and ability to help their direct reports find their job interesting and challenging, see professional growth and career development opportunities, and utilize their strengths.

  3. Influence and Relationships
    The ability to understand, navigate, and impact how communications, information, and decisions flow through the organization.

  4. Accountability
    The ability to fairly and transparently manage and monitor expectations, have difficult conversations, and provide the resources and support required for success.

  5. Decision Making
    The ability to make timely and high quality decisions, often without complete information and under tight deadlines, based upon a mixture of analysis, experience, and judgement.

  6. Change Management
    The ability to understand, lead, manage, execute, and communicate organizational change in a way that aligns with the overall company strategy and culture.

Two Ways to Build Leadership Skills
There are two powerful ways to build leadership competencies that do not involve the expense and time away from the job that training requires. One involves taking advantage of teachable moments and the other entails providing leadership experience.

  • Take Advantage of Teachable Moments
    Be sure you look for and recognize managers when they demonstrate a leadership moment — encouraging an employee to share their idea to improve a process or pitching in when a teammate is under a deadline for example.

  • Broaden Leadership Experiences
    In order to broaden their strategic perspective, provide stretch assignments and opportunities to participate in higher level meetings or to shadow a leader so they understand what leaders must consider as they make decisions. Don’t just reserve high-potential development for upper levels of the organization.

The Bottom Line
Bad managers create bad businesses.  Great managers create great businesses.  Are you boosting the skill levels of your managers so they can help people to perform at their peak?

To learn about how to help managers to lead better, download 6 Management Best Practices that Make the Difference Between Effective and Extraordinary

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