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Leadership: How to improve your management skills
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You read it again and again: Leadership is one of the most important prerequisites for being successful as a manager. That sounds cloudy to tautological. What constitutes this indispensable leadership quality is seldom defined more precisely. Young executives in particular are wondering whether and how they can train leadership skills. So it's high time to shed light on the darkness! We'll tell you what it's all about as well as some tips and tricks on how you can acquire the leadership skills you need ...
➠ Content: This is what awaits you
➠ Content: This is what awaits you
Leadership definition: what makes it stand out?
The word leadership initially implies that supervisors must demonstrate strength. You should make decisions and represent them confidently to the outside world. Accordingly, strength in leadership is closely related to determination and assertiveness. But leadership should not be equated or confused with an authoritarian leadership style.
Leadership strength encompasses the entire competence of a superior in a managerial position. It combines numerous characteristics and strengths that bosses should bring with them. Last but not least, the will to lead. Managers who prefer to retire to their office or managerial circles and give a big speech at most twice a year show few of these strengths. In addition, leadership is also demonstrated by superiors developing a vision of where they want to lead both their employees and the company.
These are the qualities that define leadership
Ultimately, leadership and leadership skills are a mix of different behaviors and characteristics that can vary in strength. However, some of them are indispensable for the aforementioned leadership strength. These strengths appear in pretty much every management textbook and are essential for successful work in a management position:
Strong managers do not close themselves off to the ideas of their employees. They listen and listen to their assessments and suggestions with an open mind. That is easier said than done: because it also means that you listen to an idea to the end, although after a few sentences you notice that it will not lead to any goal. Give your co-workers the chance to finish what they say. This is a sign of appreciation and respect.
Due to their greater experience, managers can come to a decision more quickly and have a better overview of what is going and what is not in the company. But employees cannot assess that. If you then rush to iron out a suggestion, it will not come across as overt. Openness therefore also means taking employees on board and, if in doubt, slowing down one's own (decision-making) pace. Only those who understand and support decisions will follow them.
But openness also has a third facet: It refers to the fact that your office door and your ear should always be open. Take your time when employees come to you with problems and offer advice or help if possible.
The big picture
If the management level loses the overview, it is hardly possible to work productively and purposefully. Such an impending chaos can be prevented with the necessary leadership skills.
Employees need a clear line. But that does not mean that you should only lead par Ordre de mufti - i.e. by decree from above. An authoritarian leadership style based on command and obedience is no longer appropriate.
The ability to deal with conflicts therefore initially includes allowing conflicts and contradictions at all. Those who deal with it confidently, discuss the matter hard without ever getting personal, can overcome resistance.
But the point also means that in case of doubt, stand in front of your employees when they are attacked. If you as a manager have this quality and use it to protect your employees from attack, you can score double points and show leadership.
Knowledge of human nature
Good managers know what tasks they can expect their employees to do and which colleagues work best in a team.
A bon mot says: Everyone has the right to be led individually. Good knowledge of human nature helps you to recognize which colleague needs more freedom and which is more extrinsic motivation.
Choleric bosses don't like employees. Certainly, sometimes constructive (!) Criticism or a warning are unavoidable. Most employees instinctively feel whether this is done with the best of intentions and with the desire to challenge and encourage their colleagues - or whether it is just venting their own whims.
Everyone makes mistakes in their job. By the way, managers too. Decisive for leadership strength is the associated understanding and consideration for the inviolable human dignity - also in companies.
This point is practically the further development of the already mentioned understanding manager. Such managers and bosses not only know that their employees make mistakes every now and then, they also admit mistakes to themselves. But please not only in front of yourself, but also in front of your colleagues. There's no shame in being wrong as a boss.
On the contrary: it makes you more approachable and ultimately more personable and is a sign of real humanity.
Outstanding managers can spur their employees on to new records. However, money or bonuses should play a subordinate role here. There are numerous alternatives to motivate your employees (you can find more than 30 of them HERE).
To name just a few: It is now known from motivation research that a high degree of autonomy and self-determination at work is much more sustainable than money. Common (!) Goals, a feeling of gratitude from the supervisor and appreciation for a job also have an effect.
In order to lead people, you need to understand them. Both intellectually and emotionally. A high degree of empathy and social skills are essential for this and show leadership.
Social competence is also shown in good manners, in good presentation and communication skills or in the ability to let others outgrow themselves.
It is a truism that executives must first earn the respect of their team and workforce. Nevertheless, numerous climbers and young professionals prefer to try the power of hierarchy first. You guessed it: that is not leadership strength.
Managers should create an environment in which employees can develop. According to the flow theory, this happens roughly on the verge of being slightly overwhelmed.
However, so that employees can acquire skills and thus develop more self-confidence, managers must (be able to) relinquish responsibility. Or as it is called in technical jargon: You have to delegate successfully.
This is how you can improve your leadership skills
Now that you have read a lot about the necessary and decisive qualities of real leadership, it could of course happen that you realize: I am missing something. Don't worry - no master has fallen from heaven yet. And leadership is not innate to very few people either. Most of it can be learned, trained and improved.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can work on your leadership strength:
This is how you improve your ability to criticize
Managers also make mistakes every now and then. Quite a few bosses interpret this as a sign of weakness. Bigger mistake! Often times, it even indicates an oversized ego and strong self-doubt. Try to take mistakes or wrong decisions less as a personal defeat, but rather as an opportunity:
This won't happen to you or your employees again! Feel free to verbalize your analysis. In this way you not only gain respect and new solutions. You can also count on the support of your team more in the future.
This is how you practice openness
The supervisor is the natural enemy of the employee. Instead of building on this mental wall, you should try not to let it arise in the first place. Do not treat your employees from above, but rather as equal interlocutors - with different tasks and areas of responsibility. This also means that you really listen to your employees - actively!
Ask questions, try to really understand the other person. Take their perspective and say not only that you understood something, but also what you understood. In this way you avoid misunderstandings in the job and new conflicts. In addition, your counterpart feels that you are being taken seriously, understood and at the same time senses that you are genuinely interested in their point of view. In other words: active listening is an important component in dealing with employees and promotes your openness and social skills.
So give clear instructions
Very few employees can cope with vague, wishy-washy statements. After that, nobody really knows what to do. Withdraw leadership to avoid uncertainty. Your team will then know what to expect from them.
This is how you show humanity
Not scolded, it is praised enough - for some bosses the cynical bon mot is a veritable leadership style. Fatal! Anyone who really works hard for their team and company deserves praise for it.
It is true that executives do not have to exuberantly applaud every correctly implemented instruction. But if something went really well, that should be said too. Preferably in front of everyone, then it also serves as a model.
This is how you better delegate
Trust is the beginning of resilient relationships. Anyone who cannot (or does not want to) delegate ultimately means subtly: I do not trust you and your abilities. It's an indirect devaluation. And employees feel it. How are team members supposed to get better if you don't give them the chance? Delegation is a form of training and education.
Let your employees go through this school - but don't leave them alone. Regular feedback helps a lot and ensures a steeper learning curve. Make yourself aware: by delegating more yourself, you create long-term freedom that you can use for other purposes.
In addition, you will give your colleagues important experiences of achievement that will motivate them further.
What other readers have read about it
Julia-Eva Sima works as a freelance journalist and worked for the career bible for a few months.
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