A manager must use leadership skills for the good of the organization. In today’s fast-changing business environment top-down, static, hierarchical structures have given way to more nimble, responsive organizational frameworks. While meeting the team goal and following established procedures are still sound management practices, communicating the vision and inspiring the desire to achieve are part of the effective manager’s skill set. How can a manager use leadership qualities in order to inspire, motivate, and guide his or her team?
What are some qualities and skills of a leader?
Before a manager can embody good leadership qualities, he or she must understand what these traits are. A good leader must possess several attributes:
- Conscientiousness. A leader must make him- or herself accountable for reaching the organization’s goals. By having a sense of responsibility or duty the leader can motivate the group to follow suit.
- Overall competency and knowledge of the work. A leader must have complete knowledge of the work of the team. Even if they do not have mastery of all the skill sets involved, the leader’s deep familiarity and expertise about the work will increase the team’s overall confidence.
- Vision. The ability to envision the organization’s mission and purpose, both in the present and future, allows a leader to communicate this to the team.
- Empathy. The ability to empathize with others, possessing respect for others, understanding the outlook and perspective of team members—all of these attributes help a leader to maintain the smooth and efficient functioning of the team.
- Basic fairness. Without a basic sense of fairness, a leader cannot hope to manage a team of people with diverse interests and attributes and backgrounds.
- Positive frame of mind, intelligence, analytical ability. These three qualities combine to give a leader the ability to manage challenges and potential problems and find solutions to the difficulties that may arise in a team’s efforts to meet their goals.
- Self-confidence. A leader is self-confident in their own abilities and judgment. They welcome the input of others and are not threatened by constructive criticism. As a result, others will put their confidence in the leader.
- Communication/organizational ability. A good leader can communicate the goals of the organization and align individual goals and aptitudes with the group purpose.
- Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious. A passionate leader energizes their team.
- Integrity. Doing the right thing strengthens team spirit. By building trust when you do the right thing, even if it hurts at the time, your whole team benefits and will perform better.
- Loyalty. Stand up for your team in times of crisis. Team members who perceive that their team leader is loyal to them are more likely to return that loyalty.
- Decisiveness. Make a decision and take the lumps if it turns out to not be the right one. Indecisiveness saps productivity and morale.
- Charisma. A little dollop of charisma doesn’t hurt. Being polite, pleasant, well-spoken and attractive is a huge plus for a leader.
How do leadership skills benefit an organization?
Good leadership can permeate all levels of an organization to assure the smooth functioning of the individual teams, on their own and together. Quality leadership fosters unity and promotes an organic operation of the whole. Because communication is open, and the contribution of individuals is sought out by the leader, people are inspired to give their best effort. In order to produce a successful product, an organization must have leadership that can foster the accomplishment of the organization’s goals.
One of the issues having to do with the attainment of the corporation’s objectives is how to translate the vision and mission of the organization into precise results in the key spheres that the leader considers to be crucial. A good leader will solicit input from team members in the development of well-defined objectives. In this way, the team as a whole is invested in the project or job. The outcome is an improved result or product.
To encourage the adoption of the organization’s goals by the individual team members a leader will show the team members that they are valued by listening to and respecting their suggestions, and acknowledging their work contributions. The unity of the organization will benefit from such an approach.
A leader is important in managing organizational change. A leader will implement a reward structure to help attain strategic objectives that result in the marriage of individual and enterprise goals.
Related: What Does Leadership Mean?
What is the difference between a manager and a leader?
A simple explanation of the difference between a manager and a leader is that a leader is a leader by virtue of that person’s individual traits or attributes. A manager is a manager based on the position they hold or the job they do. A leader inspires, influences and sets direction. A manager plans, executes and monitors performance. There are more specific differences, including the following:
Management is concerned with operations. It makes sure that policies, procedures, and guidelines are functioning in the organization.
Leadership is about modeling to the individual team members the qualities necessary for the overall progress of the organization.
A manager’s role is administrative. Planning, organizing and controlling are key functions of management.
A leader deals with more interpersonal aspects of the job.
Despite the differences between the roles of manager and leader, in today’s business climate good leadership skills on the part of managers is crucial for the success of any organization. Such managers have come to be called managerial leaders.
What are the attributes of a managerial leader?
A manager is a key person in the organization. They must possess the skills to further the goals and objectives of the organization. Some ways in which managerial leaders work are:
- With effective and clear communication up and down the hierarchy of the organization.
- By being creative in their problem-solving.
- By being adaptable and flexible in their approach. They are open to new ideas from team members.
- With a sound understanding of human behavior.
- With a comprehensive view of the business environment including competitors, threats to their business, and ways to optimize performance and production.
Read more: How to Be a Good Manager
Why does a manager need leadership abilities?
It should be self-evident that a manager needs leadership abilities. Even though according to traditional definitions a leader directs the vision of the company and the manager sets specific operations, a manager still needs leadership skills in order to be effective. It bears repeating that the fast-changing business environment necessitates that a manger take on a more big-picture, flexible approach that we often associate with leaders.
A managerial leader explores soft leadership, for which today’s employees have an affinity. A team member’s morale benefits from being treated like a colleague. A team can arrive at creative solutions to novel problems by opening up the problem-solving process.
A manager cannot manage people, he or she can only manage activities, resources and workflow. Since a manager can only manage how people produce results, the only option for the managerial leader is to lead people, not manage them. Today’s business environment is transparent and collaborative.
What are some aspects of managerial leadership?
To focus on the people who make change happen, a managerial leader should hone-in areas where he or she can bring people into the process in a meaningful way.
- Delegate to your team members. This encourages their participation and contribution to the enterprise’s success.
- Coach your employees to build skills and morale. Team members who receive coaching are more competent at their jobs, and happier.
- Be an active listener. This is a crucial part of being an effective communicator that is often overlooked.
- Cultivate meaningful relationships between team members. Gain your team members’ trust by being authentic and interested in their problems. Resolve conflicts and your team members will look up to you for your leadership skills.
What are the different styles of managerial leadership?
If a manager has a highly competent and skilled team, they might adopt a more open, democratic style of leadership. This style is appropriate when the team members are very independent and value their own ability to make decisions. Such team members are also well-versed in the overall goals of the organization, have dealt with participatory managers before, and are knowledgeable enough to deal with challenges themselves. To get the most from such a team member, the manager should allow them a degree of autonomy.
The manager might adopt a more directive or authoritarian style if he or she posses specialized knowledge and skill needed for the achievement of the team’s goals. A fast-moving work environment where the situation is in constant flux will also call for a directive management style.
Transactional leadership is very similar to authoritarian leadership. In transactional leadership, the leader expects his or her subordinates to carry out his or her vision. This style is mostly based on the personality of the leader, and not in the demands of the task or environment. In problem-solving, team members are expected to check in with the leader. The downside of this approach is that it can lead to high turnover in the team as talented, intelligent individuals are not usually fulfilled in following orders like automatons.
A transformational leader inspires loyalty and confidence in his or her team by creating a shared vision, by preparing his or her team to handle the challenges of the job, and by leading with energy and charisma.
How can a manager display good leadership?
Your team will respond to your actions and how you handle yourself as their leader. Here are some actions you can take to display good leadership.
- Walk the walk. If you schedule a meeting to address lateness, don’t show up late yourself. Or if you do, own it and use it as a learning opportunity to spur discussion.
- Team build. Build networks within your team, with the overall organization, and with outside suppliers and customers.
- Lead by example. Never ask your team to perform a task that you are not equipped or willing to perform.
- Be honest in your evaluation of their work. Not correcting a performance that falls short of expectation won’t win you admiration, or help your team’s success.
- Don’t overreach in terms of your authority. Making unreasonable demands of your team will only earn their enmity, not improved performance.
- Be realistic but optimistic. It might seem self-evident, but it can be helpful to actively remind yourself that maintaining a realistic but optimistic attitude will produce the best outcomes.
- Avail yourself of the advice of a mentor. A good leader knows when to get help or advice. This is a signal of strength, work ethic and self-confidence.
- Invite feedback. This signals to your team that you value their input. Team members repay your confidence in their ideas with their loyalty and dedication to the team’s success.
- Empower your team members. Allowing your team to carry out tasks with autonomy is an overlooked leadership quality. This improves the efficiency of your team by removing bottlenecks. It improves morale by showing your team that you trust them. When people are trusted to perform, they do.
- Develop flexibility. To cope with the dynamic business environment that is constantly shifting a team manager who is a good leader must be flexible in their approach to imminent challenges.
An effective, productive organization comprises individual teams led by managers who embody good leadership qualities.