When you finally reach the level of management — or perhaps even senior management — the sense of personal validation can be so strong that you mistakenly believe your professional-development journey is complete. The problem, of course, is this means you’ll be a manager with the same skills that got you to the top in the first place — but not a manager who continually develops their leadership skills.
Leadership challenges are constantly evolving and intensifying, and if managers wish to remain effective, they’ll need to keep up with the pace by developing their management skills. Research suggests that some managers are falling behind the necessary pace of personal development required to meet the changing demands of being a leader today. For example, a study from Michelle McQuaid of TellYourBoss.com found that 65 percent of Americans said having a better boss would make them happier.
The study made several more stark findings about employees’ perceptions of their bosses:
- 31 percent of employees felt uninspired and unappreciated by their bosses;
- 42 percent said their bosses didn’t work very hard;
- and 20 percent said their bosses had little or no integrity.
Given that this survey exposes some serious discontent in the ranks, it could make for difficult reading for currently serving managers.
However, the study isn’t all negative: it does offer an opportunity for managers to take positive steps to address employee dissatisfaction. For example, the study found that:
- 60 percent of Americans say they would do a better job if they got along better with their bosses,
- and 55 percent said they would be more successful in their careers if they got along better with their bosses.
So, there’s good reason for managers to continuously develop their leadership skills: better leadership means happier, more productive employees.
Keeping this in mind, here are four tips on how you can be a great boss:
1. Develop a Flexible and Adaptable Leadership Style
The Harvard Business Review explores six styles of leadership: coercive, authoritative, affiliative, democratic, pace-setting, and coaching. It seems that most of us will naturally prefer one of these styles over the others and use that preferred style of leadership most of the time.
However, research shows that the best leaders are adaptable: they can use three or more of these often conflicting styles of leadership, depending on what a given situation calls for.
If you feel you have a limited range of leadership styles, there is definitely room for improvement in your leadership approach. One way you could be a better leader is to learn how to deploy a broader range of leadership styles to suit the demands of whatever situation you find yourself in.
2. Learn to Treat Each Team Member as an Individual
The best managers are able to adapt their leadership styles to suit not only different business situations, but also the individual members of their teams. They know how to press their team members’ unique motivational buttons.
This individual coaching style extends to task assignment: according to Towers Watson’s “2012 Global Workforce Study,” the best managers assign tasks that really suit each individual, maximizing intrinsic motivation, which is a key driver of employee satisfaction.
Learning what each team member’s unique motivators are, and then managing according to each individual’s unique values and skills, is a great way to be a better motivator and leader.
3. Practice What You Preach
The Towers Watson study mentioned above found that the best managers — the ones who lead the most engaged team members — act in ways that are consistent with their words.
Are you sure that you practice what you preach? Do you lead by example? Is it one rule for you and one for the team?
Take a long hard look at yourself, and make sure that you’re behaving the same way you expect your team members to behave.
4. Support Your Employees’ Personal and Career Development
Many people leave their jobs because they feel they don’t have any room to grow professionally or personally in their current roles. That’s why the best managers will put real effort into helping each of their team members meet their individual career goals.
Do you know what each of your staff members’ career goals are? What you have done in this last six months to support your employees’ growth?
If you can’t easily answer these questions, it’s likely you are not giving your team members the support they desire. One way to be a better boss, then, will be to increase the level of support you give to the personal and career development of each one of your employees.
Stay tuned! Tomorrow, we’ll share three more tips on how to be a better boss!