Leadership is one of the most essential attributes of an effective manager, but it is also the most prevalent shortcoming among managers. It is typical for companies to promote top talent to management positions, but effective leadership is a skill that develops over time though training, mentoring, and experience.
Even if your performance has been strong and you’re considered a good job fit, leading others can be an adjustment for most. Don’t assume that being an effective worker automatically translates into being an effective manager—especially if your new responsibility is managing your peers. Here are 10 leadership tips to help first-time managers succeed in this new adventure and avoid failure.
1. Accept that you still have a lot to learn.
You have worked hard for your promotion and have ample expertise in your chosen field, but you may find that you lack self-confidence in your ability to lead. Be prepared to learn from others—including your new team.
2. Communicate clearly.
Always keep your team fully informed about project goals, priorities, and important deadlines. Effective communication is essential to both establishing your credibility and gaining the support of your team, so be sure to provide clear direction and always welcome questions and feedback from peers.
3. Set a good example.
Demand from yourself the same level of professionalism and dedication that you expect from others. If you expect the team to be upbeat and friendly, then make sure you are. If you expect written reports to be error free, then double check your own work or ask for a second set of eyes.
4. Encourage feedback.
Sometimes employees are unwilling to speak up about certain issues unless they are prompted. Canvass for opinions on issues such as support, training, and resources and maintain an open-door policy. This will assure that your team knows that you are willing to listen to their concerns and ideas and also help provide solutions to any problems.
5. Offer recognition.
There are many reasons to offer recognition and constructive feedback to employees. By publicly recognizing the efforts and achievements of your team, you not only build up their confidence, but also encourage future contributions and effort. Praise does not always have to be formal; praising employees can be part of your day-to-day communication with your team. In the video below, Ken Blanchard suggests that managers take an extra minute to offer praise, criticism, or make sure that instructions are understood.
Ken Blanchard discusses the concept of the "Extra Minute Manager."
6. Be decisive.
A quality leader needs to make decisions and stick to them. People do not feel comfortable with someone who changes his or her mind on a whim. Ruth Mayhew for Chron.com explains that, “Adding value to your organization in a leadership role largely depends on your ability to make decisions without waffling or wavering. Supervisors and managers gain respect from their direct reports by confidently asserting their authority without showing signs of dictatorship.”
A leader that is humbly confident can make decisions without fear of being wrong. Effective managers are not perfect, so using situations that don’t go as planned as learning curves and examples of what not to do are amicable. Employees lose trust in managers if they are in denial of the repercussions of a decision they made.
7. Help your team see the “big picture.”
Take time to explain to your team how their assignments and projects fit into the company’s larger goals and overall objectives. This will help demonstrate how every task they complete can have an impact on the company’s reputation, success, and bottom line.
8. Create an environment of constant learning and development—be sure to include yourself in this process.
Encourage your team to explore new methods for reaching their individual goals and those set by the company. Allow them to make and learn from their mistakes, and be sure to reward new and innovative ideas.
9. Provide professional guidance.
A good manager and leader should also be a mentor. Make yourself available to staff members and show interest in their career development within the company. Don’t overlook the motivational power of positive reinforcement because your staff will appreciate your commitment to their progress.
10. Be patient with yourself.
Developing strong managerial and leadership skills takes time, especially as you adjust to your new position. Seek guidance from colleagues, your line manager, or your professional network when you need it. In doing so, you will enhance your leadership skills, abilities, and also make strides toward becoming a great manager.
While this list is intended for new managers, these tips can benefit tenured managers and remind them of the basics. As it is true with most things, the longer the person stays in a role, the more set in his ways he becomes. These leadership tips serve as reminders that help give new managers a unique focus or outlook on their daily job, which will not only improve their own effectiveness, but increase the performance of those whom they lead.
Share some of your leadership tips for new managers in the comments section below.