Qualities of a Great Manager in a Changing World

By Philip J Reed - December 23rd, 2015

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In addition to the traditional challenges of leading teams, today’s managers are facing emerging trends that are changing the way they operate. Disruptions and changes in the global marketplace are forcing leaders to take a new approach in various realms in order to help their organizations stay nimble and competitive.

Whether young or old, good managers exhibit qualities like humility, clarity, and agility. Flexibility and adaptation are growing needs for any organization, and the qualities of a good manager are no different. Knowing how to lead a team (not just assign tasks) and how to keep an eye on global trends will help both experienced and inexperienced managers excel.

Here are four ways good managers can become great:

Be adaptive.

Three-quarters of managers from around the world said their ability to change is their most significant competitive advantage, according to a study by Bain & Company. When situations change, effective bosses encourage and value the process of transformation because they know their teams must adapt to stay competitive. This is true in the U.S. and throughout the globe. Demographics are changing, populations are aging and resource scarcity is pushing deep shifts throughout the world markets. Technology changes the way we work, yet also brings more volatility. Sometimes change could be a threat to the very position of a manager, but responsible leaders know transformation is quickly becoming the norm and they embrace the transition wholeheartedly.

Be humble.

Nearly 40% of the workforce is now being managed by millennials, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. Most of those surveyed said they don’t think the age difference is a problem. But those who expressed issues with their younger bosses cited a problem that can actually affect managers of any age. About half of their employees said young managers think they know more than their senior employees.

Let’s pause for a quick reminder. Ego knows no age. No matter your generation or background, you can’t possibly know everything. When you surround yourself with the most talented people who have conversations you can’t always understand, that’s a good thing. You don’t have to understand the intricacies of their daily jobs because you’ve got a brilliant team of these type of folks who are taking care of many tasks. You know that because you check in with them throughout the week and only step in if they have a problem.

Be supportive from the sidelines.

Global shifts, new technology, and industry regulations are forcing some companies to gut their management layers, leaving more employees to supervise. The ironic challenge here is that managers who spend more time with their employees and less time with spreadsheets are considered more effective team leaders. That’s why it’s more important than ever to reach out to your employees when they need your help, but not much more. You delegate work to your trusted, talented team with the confidence and understanding that they’ve got things under control.

Good managers have to spend time measuring the productivity of those under their purview. However, they gain effectiveness when they can balance that time with coaching and investing in their employees when they need it most.

Be clear.

When you assign projects, speak in exact terms about what you expect the outcome to be. Tell your employees exactly what you want and set clear expectation to ensure they spend their time working toward the desired objective. Tell them how the project is going to be measured. Engage in a conversation about the outcome to ensure your employees understand the goal. Monitor their progress, but by all means, only step in if they need support.

Whether you’re just becoming a team leader or if you’ve been honing your managerial qualities for years, it’s important to stay abreast of changing market dynamics and how they can affect your job. And don’t forget to be honest with yourself. Anyone can slip into a rut, but it takes a great leader to do sometimes tough self-reflection to adapt for your team or try something new. There are also many training opportunities out there for managers looking to develop or hone their leadership skills. From short seminars and certificates to full bachelor’s and master’s degrees, getting out of your own environment can give you a new perspective as well as some practical tips to help you go from being a good manager to a great one.

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