10 Essential Habits of Extraordinary Managers

21 Jul 10 Essential Habits Extraordinary Managers

Some managers appear to be natural born leaders.

But research shows that very few (including those who’ve gone on to be recognized as fantastic managers) exhibit leadership qualities early in life.

Most people become great leaders thanks to practice, mentorship, and experience. 

Some of the world’s biggest companies have taken note of this, and have created specific training programs to help some of their highest performing employees transition into leadership roles.

Google, for instance, came up with an eight-point manifesto that outlines what characteristics high performing engineers must adopt if they want to become effective leaders (technical skills being last on the list).

Microsoft, another of the world’s largest corporations, has followed suit and offers classes to help emerging leaders gain valuable skills.

Regardless of whether you are natural born leader, you can learn the skills to become an extraordinary manager and create a high-performance team by adopting the following team habits.

1. Stay Calm

Managers can make all the difference about a team’s environment and productivity. Gallup found they are responsible for at least 70% of the variance of employee engagement scores and 50% of people have left a job because of their manager.

Managers are often under immense amounts of pressure, which can bring a lot of stress. No one is impervious to this stress, but good leaders learn how to stay calm despite it.

Employees appreciate bosses who are able to stay patient, poised, and positive regardless of the situation.

According to a survey that Google ran back in 2011, the single most important thing that employees valued in a good boss was their ability to stay calm under pressure.

High-performing work environments are naturally stressful, which is why bosses who are unable to stay calm and who regularly appear to be tense, high-strung, and impatient tend to make life harder for their employees.

Don’t be that boss. Learn techniques, like mindfulness that will allow you to stay calm, and find ways to alleviate stress for yourself and your employees.

2. Set And Reach Goals

To lead a team to success, you need a clear idea of what success will look like.

That’s why setting goals and mapping out a road to their completion is an essential part of good management.

>As far back as the 1950’s, researchers have been looking at how goal-setting impacts a team’s performance. In an iconic study published in 1955, economists Jay Barney and Ricky Griffin concluded that goals improve a team’s performance by serving these four basic functions:

  1. providing guidance and direction,
  2. facilitating planning,
  3. motivating and inspiring employees,
  4. and helping organizations evaluate and control performance.

While good managers have the habit of continuously setting goals for their teams, great managers also involve team members to help set and evolve goals.

Involve your team in developing goals

This gives employees a stake in your team’s success, and keeps everyone committed to working together to complete those goals.

3. Focusing On Strengths

Gallup studies have shown that people who spend time each day working on tasks that they’re already good at are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs. They find their work more rewarding and enjoy what they do.

This makes them more productive.

This doesn’t mean that managers should ignore their employees’ weaknesses entirely, but putting an emphasis on developing strengths is a tremendous opportunity for team leaders.

It is perhaps one of the best ways to increase productivity and be results-oriented.

By focusing on each employees’ strengths, you’ll be able to coach them into being experts in a field, allowing you to focus on what you want the team to achieve and investing your time in dividing up tasks accordingly.

4. Coach Employees

Before Phil Jackson became head coach of the Chicago Bulls in 1989, Michael Jordan had never won an NBA championship.

While there were no doubts at the time about Jordan’s superior talent, it wasn’t until Jackson coached him into playing a new offensive strategy and taught him some unorthodox visualization techniques that Jordan was able to finally win an NBA title.

Jackson teaches us that even the most talented employees aren’t perfect at their jobs.

Great managers recognize this and put the time and effort to coach their employees to become better at their jobs.

By regularly scheduling one-on-one meetings with your employees, you’ll be able to help them develop their strengths and get a better sense on how to coach them to success with specific, constructive feedback that will helping them up their games.

5. Empower Your Team

According to the same Google survey, one of the things that employees dislike the most about bosses is when they micromanage.

Having a boss that is involved in every decision weighs employees down, and makes them lose confidence in themselves.

Great managers learn to achieve a delicate balance between giving a certain degree of freedom to their employees, while still being available for advice.

lululemon demonstrates a great example of empowering their employees to make their own decisions. Everyone is given the power to make a decision when situations arise without consulting a manager. If it turns out they could have made a better decision, they are coached on how to do it better next time.

This removes the fear of getting in trouble and helps them to be better at their jobs. Each employee develops an entrepreneurial mindset and is more invested in the company’s success.

You should always strive for that balance and empower your team to be able to make decisions without your immediate supervision.

6. Connect On A Personal Level

Expressing honest interest in your employee’s well-being is a fantastic way to gain respect, engagement, and effort from your staff.

Foster connections within your team

The reasoning behind this is simple: if your employees like you, they’re more likely to be happy at work, and will subsequently work harder for you.

This claim is supported by data. According to a recent study conducted by a group of economists at the University of Warwick in the UK, happy employees are better employees. In fact, the study found that happiness can lead to a 12% growth in productivity.

Go beyond professional talk (and small talk) and get to know who they are as people and connect with them on a personal level. A great way to do this by celebrating successes, both personal and professional.

This will help create personal connections and a positive working environment with happier employees.

7. Develop Your Communication Skills

Having good communication skills is critical if you’re hoping to build and execute a corporate strategy (or get along in the world in general!)

According to Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn/Ferry International, the world’s biggest recruitment firm, leaders must be able to inspire people through their words and actions and thus need to work hard on developing effective communication skills.

The best way to do this is to understand that communication is a two-way street. Great leaders work on listening to their employees just as much as they focus on their own sharing skills.

Good communicators encourage open dialogue and listen to the questions and concerns of their employees.

If you’re able to effectively communicate your plans and vision and use your listening skills to incorporate their suggestions, you’ll inspire and engage your team.

8. Help Your Employees Grow

Good leaders focus on their employees’ career development.

Investing time and resources into coaching, training, and mentorship ensures your employees are up to speed with the skills essential to do their jobs and grow professionally.

A huge benefit of investing in your employees is that it helps attract and keep great team members that will give your company a competitive edge.

It also helps reduce turnover which is expensive and can lower morale.

Well trained employees who feel like they are developing in their career have the opportunity to be more productive and efficient because they have everything they need to do the job well.

9. Keep Up With Technical Skills

Once in the manager’s office, many people let their technical skills become stale.

Just because you aren’t using those technical skills on a daily basis doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be keeping up to speed with them.

As a manager, it’s important that you are able to roll up your sleeves and work side-by-side with your team when needed.

Work alongside your team

This allows you to advise your team and will give you an insight into the specific challenges that every one of your employees deals with at work.

If your employees need to learn new software, learn how to use it too. Or if there is a huge development in your field, keep up to date with it.

That way, your employees will know that even though you are their manager, you care about their jobs and they can come to you for technical advice.

10. Practice Empathy

Empathy is by far one of the most important characteristics of a good leader.

George Anders from Forbes Magazine wrote an article about how Empathy is the number one job skill as we move into 2020. This is because empathy helps develop relationships because people like to feel that they are understood and heard.

Being able to put yourself in your employees’ shoes (be it personally or professionally) will give you great insight into their daily tasks, allowing you to better understand who they are and what they do.

Doing this will help build stronger personal and professional bonds with your employees, which will make the office a better place for you and your employees. Ultimately, this will improve productivity and quality of life.

You Set The Tone

By practicing these 10 habits of extraordinary managers, you’ll set the standard for how things are done in your workplace, inspiring your employees to do the same.

As you become a better manager, they learn and become better too, ultimately making work a great place to be personally and professionally.

Make sure you check out 5 Powerful Positive Psychology Hacks To Transform Your Team for some great techniques that you can use to improve your skills.

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