What does it take to become a Great Manager?
Managing an organisation can be complex.
There is so much going on, so much to stay on top of, so many stakeholders to appease.
Then throw managing people into the mix, and you have one big challenge on your hands indeed!
A Great Manager is no doubt across all of the fundamentals; sales and marketing, operations, financials, customer service, those sorts of things.
However, one skill that is foundational in the application of all other Management skills, raising someone from a good manager to a Great Manager, is the skill of Self-Awareness.
A Great Manager is aware of their management style, their personality preferences, their strengths and their weaknesses.
They’ve tuned in to themselves and others. Meaning they know what they are good at, and what they should delegate.
Importantly, this perception is similar to how other people see them – they don’t waste time by pretending to be good at something they’re not.
Self-awareness provides a Manager with a deep understanding of their emotions and how they will likely respond to various levels of stress.
This ability is necessary to Self-Manage.
Not the “pure vanilla” skill of self-management that means you just manage your time well and you plan your day before you start.
Good Managers do that, sure. But we’re talking about how Great Managers self-manage.
From where a laser-like focus and a huge jump in goal achievement and effectiveness comes.
It is the type of self-management that allows a Great Manager to stay cool under pressure, think clearly when the room is falling down around them, make a decision and take decisive action when the going gets tough.
A Great Manager’s self-awareness provides the necessary foundation and platform upon which the other “great” skills are built. It is the critical skill for great success.
The alternative, of course, is the manager who has low self-awareness and a weak ability to self-manage.
Unfortunately, this leads to negative storytelling or the venting of emotions like anger, and even possibly bullying, or frustration.
This, in turn, makes it much more challenging to encourage teams to remain positive, upbeat and focussed on the vision and objectives of the organisation.
A Great Manager knows that their behaviour sets the tone for others to follow.
They can only manage this aspect of how they lead, by having a realistic awareness of how they are operating in the real world, based on their results and the engagement levels of their staff.
These skills are known as Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to:
- Relieve stress
- Communicate effectively
- Empathise with others
- Overcome challenges
- Defuse conflict
Daniel Goleman wrote a famous book about it in 1995, giving the term Emotional Intelligence widespread acceptance.
Self-awareness is viewed as the underpinning skill of Emotional Intelligence. It was Goleman’s research of managers in 200 organisations that suggested, while technical skills are essential, it is the emotional intelligence skills that differentiate a Great Manager from a good one.
A GREAT MANAGER is aware of his/her strengths, and they focus on developing them and using them to their full capacity.
Great Managers build confidence in the knowledge that using their strengths keeps them feeling energised. If you feel naturally drawn toward a task, the skills are quickly learned, and you are usually successful as a result.
Reflect on this; you will have had the same experience yourself at some point. Feels good, doesn’t it?
A Great Manager is also aware of when they are overusing their strengths. Your strengths feel so natural, that it can cause them to become a weakness. Let me explain…
One common strength might be described as “being determined” as you continue to strive towards your goals. Even when the going gets tough, you work at it until you’ve succeeded.
However, imagine how this “strength,” if overused, may be experienced, to the point of stubbornness, rigidity or controlling behaviour.
Over-use can apply to any strength.
- Easy-going can become Lazy
- Caring can become Smothering
- Passionate can become Angry
- Flexible can become Scattered
A Great Manager uses their self-awareness to reflect on how their behaviour, strengths and weaknesses, are being experienced by the people around them.
Many people, including Managers, think they know their strengths & weaknesses.
This may be the case for some. However, results of 360-degree feedback reviews, (where the perception of others is compared with self-perception), shows that as many as two-thirds of Managers’ awareness of themselves is different to how others see them.
The fact is, generally people do not have a clear grasp of their strengths or their weaknesses as others experience them.
Nobody has perfect Self-Awareness. It’s possible that there will always be blind spots and we can never be good at absolutely everything.
However, an Outstanding Manager gets the best outcome by engaging in activities that maximise their strengths and leveraging the strengths of others for tasks that they are better suited.
To elevate yourself from just being a good Manager to becoming a Great Manager, increase your Self-Awareness and your ability to self-manage.
It is the skill-set that will likely complete you as a manager, allowing you to apply your technical skills in a way that empowers and engages your people and creating a team that is greater and more productive than the sum of its parts.