Seemingly similar in interpretation, the terms ‘ Managers' and Leaders’ are often used synonymously. The post of a Manager comes with Positional Power and a huge responsibility to consistently plan and implement strategies while operating with people and motivating them to strive to achieve common goals actively. Most managers are appointed based on their performance in past roles and are expected to help others duplicate their performance or further enhance the output level of their team. Ideologically, it seems perfect. For instance, if a person is exceptionally good at ‘steering the wheel’ and is expected to teach the same to others, he should be able to do it. The same analogy would work perfectly if only people could interpret instructions from the click of a button, move at the required speed in desired directions, and get the JOBS done as machines do. No wonder major glitches happen, not on the technical side, but in adapting to the role, building teams, managing relationships, inspiring people, communicating effectively, and resolving conflicts.
Most people know what a job entails and how to gather resources and get the job done. However, they may not know how to inspire people to perform their best, find out what drives them and inspire them to achieve as per their ability, recognize their potential and motivate them to enhance their skills, aspire for the greater good and help them achieve their goals. You don’t manage people - You MANAGE Work and LEAD People.
Lead people by mobilizing energy in others and inspiring them through vision, meaning, purpose and hope, and increase productivity by tapping their talent, creativity and resilience. It requires excellent leadership skills to influence subordinates and peers and direct their energies to the achievement of something together.
The new age Manager’s challenges!
Multitudes of books, articles, and seminars on leadership, clearly indicate the importance the topic deserves. Leadership has been an area of research and interest for ages, but today’s scenario makes it even more challenging.
Data speak louder than words, research indicates:
1. More businesses Die than are born: With change being the biggest constant and rising competition, running a business is more challenging than ever before. “Approximately 543,000 new businesses get started each month in the US, while more employer businesses shut down than start up each month! 7 out of 10 new employer firms survive at least two years, half at least five years, a third at least ten years, and a quarter stay in business 15 years or more.” (Forbes, Sept 2013). In an environment where businesses are struggling to stay afloat, it is Survival of the fittest, with managers bearing the brunt of the game.
2. Employee disengagement is a worldwide Epidemic!
Worldwide, (ONLY) 13% of Employees are engaged at Work, and 70% of the global workforce is either not engaged or actively disengaged (Gallup 2011-2012 Study).
Poor management is one of the biggest reasons for high disengagement levels.
To emphasize the level of loss, employee engagement causes to organizations, according to a Gallup survey “.
3. It’s a challenge retaining top talent
In the age of the Internet and social media, where employees proudly flash their key competencies on platforms like LinkedIn, are happy to switch employers repeatedly throughout their career, and are driven more by career enhancement than stable employment with the same company - employee turnover is obviously high. It is getting more and more difficult to retain top talent.
Now, as the saying goes, “People don’t leave companies they leave their bosses”, and those who don't are more risk-averse, resilient or less able to find other jobs. Notably, “Lack of leadership is as damaging as Bad Leadership!”
Some facts to support the above arguments:
82 Percent Of People Don't Trust Their Bosses To Tell The Truth. (Reported by Forbes)
65 per cent of American workers would choose a better boss over a pay raise. (Jobsite)
It is, therefore, not an overstatement to say that effective Leadership is the biggest concern for most organizations. After all, even if you have a great product, a unique value proposition, and a great strategy, it won’t work unless executed well.
Here is the good news - Leaders are made, not born!
It is not the case of ‘either you have or don’t! Leadership skills can be learnt. Research clearly shows that ‘Great Leaders’ are made during their life and career as they acquire competencies that make them effective. Following are some tips to help Managers succeed in their Leadership Roles.
1. Journey begins with the recognition of the power. Often leaders are either ignorant or humble about the power they assume. It is important to remember that with the position comes power, which greatly impacts others! Do you remember trying to read the expressions on your boss's face before approaching him/her? People always watch their leaders, actions, reactions, working styles, etc.
Leaders are like emotional sounding boards that set the tone for the group. People often emulate their leaders or act in tandem with the leader’s likes and dislikes. It is essential to understand, own, respect and uses the power effectively to influence and motivate others.
2. Understanding of self: People generally don’t pay attention to their internal response systems, moods, coping mechanisms, and reaction patterns. People around you act or react based on their perception of you. If you have a habit of reacting strongly to a particular behaviour and getting stressed under challenging situations, it will impact the behaviour and response of peers, especially subordinates. A good understanding of one's value systems, strengths, limitations, and states of mind is imperative for a leader. It helps with the ability to understand emotions as they happen, predict responses, choose an appropriate response, and stay in control under all circumstances.
Self-awareness is the single most important skill that lays the foundation for self-esteem, self-confidence, assertiveness, stress management, relationship management, etc. Only when a person is able to understand oneself he/she is able to identify the internal states of others help them overcome difficult situations and boost their morale.
3. Motivation, not merely a carrot game: Motivation does not simply entail experimenting with the Skinnerian rewards and punishments. Human beings, unlike animals in lab conditions, are driven by several ‘self-actualization needs’ that cannot be met by rewarding more and more pellets, similar to a hungry rat in an operant conditioning model of Skinner’s experiments. Human behaviour is much more complex. It is driven by the internal states of individuals and is guided by the inner feelings that drive them to behave in the ways they do. “People already have power through their knowledge and motivation. The key to empowerment is letting this power out.” – Ken Blanchard
People need money, but that is not the only reason to work. They like to be meaningfully engaged in the areas that fill them with a sense of purpose. Abraham Maslow’s needs hierarchy still stands tall in this regard. It is essential to understand what drives them in order to galvanize them into action with enthusiasm.
4. Understand others – Empathize: Our behaviours directly result from our beliefs. To change behaviours of people, you need to understand their beliefs and value systems. You need to know why they behave the way they do. Suppose someone’s beliefs do not align with the core values of the organization. In that case, it is essential to understand the reason, and in the process, the person may even realize that his beliefs were not justified after all. Understanding others' perspectives give us the opportunity to tap into the talents and wisdom of others.
Leaders optimize results by effectively utilizing all team members' talents, skills, and strengths. Merely striving to achieve as per one’s capability limits the performance of the entire team to only one person’s ability.
5. Use different Leadership styles: Two most common leadership styles that negatively affect the teams are: Command and control leader — their philosophy is “Just do it because I’m the boss, and I say so.” The other is Pacesetting - They look at others with the same internal lens of excellence as they see themselves, and they set a very high internal standards for performance. They lead by example and expect people to do things the same way do, and they do not use any other leadership style. These approaches may work in certain situations, but if used for a long time, they may leave others feeling misunderstood, disrespected and disappointed.
The role of a leader is to be responsive to the needs and beliefs of others, and train and develop them to accomplish established goals in order to achieve the organizational vision. Their aim should be to develop them into self-directed individuals and teams who are able to make decisions, take responsibility and collaborate with others while living in accordance with the values of the organization.
Developing others is a journey, and leaders should have the knowledge and expertise to use different leadership styles at different stages, as per the circumstances, and according to the abilities of people.
6. Communication skills: Effective communication skills help build relationships, keep people engaged when you meet them, build momentum, and mobilize them to collaborate and contribute. In order to communicate in a language that they understand, we need to understand how people make decisions, their frames of reference, how they respond to challenges, what motivates them and what triggers a chain of adverse reactions.
Emotions motivate us to do things that can make us feel better or stop us from doing things so that we can start feeling better. They guide human choices and inspire behaviour. Paying attention to our emotional state and that of others positively impacts the commitment of the people we work with and has a massive impact on their performance.
Research indicates that Emotional Intelligence contributes 90% to the success of the Leader and is proving to be one of the critical drivers of employee performance.
Emotionally Intelligent leaders are empathetic, passionate, committed, and can read people and groups correctly. They build a workplace environment where team members can perform, develop and excel!
- By Preeti Dubey (Masters in Psychology, MBA)
Founder , Director, STRIVE HIGH Strategic Training Solutions, www.strive-high.com.
Preeti delivers training in the development of Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, and Personal Development and regularly writes on the topics. Please click 'FOLLOW' if you would like to follow my future posts. Please Like us on Facebook for frequent updates https://www.facebook.com/StriveHigh.
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