When starting and building your own business, you may have the relevant business knowledge to rise and grow, as well as feel confident in the sector and about the product or service you’re providing.
However, managing a team or being an effective leader that your employees can rally around may be a concept alien to you, or with which you have limited experience. While a lot of great leadership comes from natural qualities such as being able to listen, being kind, and being hard-working, leadership and good management is still a skill that can be learned and honed.
Here are seven tips for improving your management and leadership skills.
This is a well-known concept, but one that is essential for leadership success. There is nothing wrong with delegating in a managerial position; expecting others to fulfill certain functions is naturally expected in business. However, you, too, need to make sure you are effectively doing your job so that others can use you as an example of the behavior that’s expected in the company. Be sure to practice what you preach: show up on time, be willing to put in the extra hours where necessary, and be professional.
Leading by example does not only mean with a focus on specific tasks, either. It also means by the traits you show, such as leading with compassion, care, and a willingness to listen. In the most basic sense, treat others how you would like to be treated and set an example that everyone can follow – both in business and as a person.
Great leaders need to be able to effectively communicate at all times. You cannot lead a team if there is miscommunication or if you are failing to discuss tasks or objectives. In order to propel your business forward, be sure to explore all great practices of communication, including listening to your team when required and offering opportunities for others to speak and give their input.
You could also present regular opportunities for feedback and ask questions of your team to learn more when needed.
These communication skills should also translate into other forms of communication. If your team regularly speaks with you via email or messaging, be sure to be prompt and clear in your replies. Vague emails or failing to respond promptly to crucial communication will only have a negative effect on the operation of your business and on the perception of you as a manager.
Just because you are in a senior position does not mean that there is nothing left to learn. Managers or leaders who think they know everything will neither progress nor earn respect from their team. Show an openness to new knowledge and learn from mistakes or problems to build your skillset. Equally, show humility within your team when it comes to areas you may not know much about.
That being said, as a manager, you are expected to have a certain level of skills and knowledge appropriate to your level. If you ever feel as though you would like to sharpen your skillset, gain new qualifications, or build upon existing business knowledge, you can always seek further education in your field, such as gaining a DBA with Aston University.
Being a manager and leader who has positive relationships with their team is always a bonus. However, it’s imperative to maintain the balance between being a manager and being a friend. There is nothing wrong with being informal with colleagues and employees, or even having friendships with them outside of work. However, problems arise when these boundaries are blurred, such as employees failing to respect your leadership due to a closeness or casual relationship they feel they have with you, or employees being unclear regarding rules and limits simply because you have failed to be firm or disciplined enough.
It is still possible to be a caring and compassionate leader who will also not tolerate certain behaviors. When striving for great leadership, it is not only about being liked; it is about being respected and being understood when it comes to appropriate practices.
Being a capable manager means knowing when to delegate and when to rightly trust that your team can handle its own responsibilities. Trying to do everything yourself and constantly checking in on your team will only serve to increase frustration and disrupt the natural flow.
While you should always make sure that employees have a task and that they understand their own roles, you should also be comfortable and confident in leaving them to fulfill their responsibilities.
While the secure and productive running of the day-to-day business should, of course, be at the forefront of everything you do, you should always be aware of the other side of your management role: namely, managing people as individuals. It may be that personal problems arise with your employees, whether in their own lives or through their relationships with other employees, but it’s essential that you’re attuned to this, too.
Be sure to let your employees know that you’re open to listening to any personal issues they might want to discuss, especially if it directly affects their ability to work.
Touching base with everyone and having productive meetings is essential for communication. However, being a good manager doesn’t mean having as many meetings as possible, constantly forcing discussions or implementing too many reviews – especially if this is cutting into the valuable working time of employees, or even their personal time, if you’re asking everyone to stay back at the end of the day.
This will only breed frustration, as well as wasting time for no reason. Only have meetings and discussions when necessary.
As an effective leader, you should always be looking to improve your skills, whether in business, in your own education, as a listener, or as a communicator. Be an inspirational figure to your team and lead by example, and the rest will follow.