To be a good manager, a leader, takes more than functional expertise; it takes self-awareness, empathy, emotional intelligence, good communication skills, and the ability to build a culture where learning, innovation can positivity thrive.
At 10Eighty we recommend everyone to commit to a regular career review, an annual career MOT, where you take time to reflect on career objectives, progress and potential. Good managers are open to new experiences, learning opportunities and feedback. They understand how they bring the best of themselves to their role to inspire and motivate others to outstanding performance.
Learning from others
We learn most from our interaction with others – peers, reports, colleagues, co-workers, customers, competitors, suppliers – emotional intelligence and self-awareness help a manager make the most of all those interactions. So make time to reflect on interaction and outcomes.
Self-awareness derives from honest self-appraisal about strengths and weaknesses; values and personality traits. In the modern workplace leadership should not be about control and command. The manager who displays empathy, empowering others and open to new ideas, will build trust in their team and the organisation.
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, thinks self-awareness can directly translate into better professional and personal choices and result in more fulfilling careers.
Use your career MOT for honest self-appraisal, to identify skills gaps and development opportunities. Aim to exploit strengths and manage weaknesses. So, if you are someone who is good at “seeing the big picture” but not so detail conscious, you may want to work with colleagues and subordinates who are detail-oriented when problem-solving and decision-making.
An occupational hazard of management is that as seniority increases the likelihood of honest feedback decreases as people only offer what they think you want to hear.
Feedback is invaluable and should be solicited from colleagues, peers and subordinates as well as superiors. This is about acknowledging what you need to learn; seeking feedback on performance, behaviour and interactions to facilitate growth and to identify behaviours or blind spots to address.
We tend to promote into management based on expertise and then assume managerial skills are an inherent attribute. When making the transition to management it’s important to ask yourself “am I an engaging leader, or do I just think I am?” It is simply arrogant to think you have all the answers and to refuse to seek advice or ask for help.
Self-awareness includes admitting when you don’t have an answer and owning up to mistakes. Learn to seek, accept and proactively use feedback to improve your leadership skills.
Management guru Peter Drucker describes this as feedback analysis: “Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or 12 months later, compare the actual results with your expectations. I have been practicing this method for 15 to 20 years now, and every time I do it, I am surprised. The feedback analysis showed me, for instance – and to my great surprise – that I have an intuitive understanding of technical people, whether they are engineers or accountants or market researchers. It also showed me that I don’t really resonate with generalists.”