3 Ways That Managers Can Improve Their Leadership Skills

In order to become a better manager, we first need to become better leaders
In order to become a better manager, we first need to become better leaders
Image Credit: Jessica Lucia

So congratulations, as a manager you are already a leader. However, if you are like most of us you could probably become a better leader. If you took the time to take a look at all of your manager skills, where do you think that your biggest leadership challenge lies? The way that you can identify this is by spending some time thinking about where you’ve had the biggest challenges – communications? Hiring? Team performance? It turns out that there are three traits that define managers who are good leaders. Perhaps we should be working on getting some manager training and improving all of these…?

It’s All About Integrity

Before we get all bogged down in a discussion about integrity, perhaps we should make sure that we all have the same understanding of just exactly what integrity is. If we look it up in the dictionary, we’ll be told that integrity is“…the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” This is important because the members of your team are smart. They are watching you all of the time. They fully understand your level of integrity.

They are trying to use this information to answer personal questions like: can I trust you to do the right thing? Will you be honest with me? When you make a mistake, do you admit it? Do you give people credit for their accomplishments? As a manager, you need to gain the trust of your team before you are going to be able to lead them. Managers have to make integrity choices all the time. We keep making these types of choices over and over again.

All Followers Are Respected

If you are going to be a manager who has leadership skills, then by definition your team will make up your followers. You may not realize it, but you will only be as good as your followers are. How good your followers are has a lot to do with how much respect you have for them. So here’s the big news: it’s really not how much they respect you that matters, but how much you respect them.

I really should not have to say this, but I will anyway. In the complicated world in which we all live, making sure that the women who are members of your team are respected has become especially important. Yes, everyone is important, but the women have been overlooked in the past and we need to make sure that this is not happening today. In a world that has people like Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood film producer accused of countless sexual assaults, managers need to make sure that respect is shown to everyone on their team.

What The Organization Stands For Is Reinforced

As a manager who is also a leader, you need to make sure that your team has a very clear identity. If it turns out that they are suffering from some sort of an identity crisis and nobody seems to really be able to define just exactly what the company culture is, then you need to take action. As a leader, you need to establish values that will be reinforced every time someone is hired, fired, promoted, or recognized in some way.

What your goal needs to be is to find a way to take all of those clever statements that the company has created and placed on the conference room walls and find ways to map them to what your team is doing on a daily basis as they interact with each other, other employees, and, of course, customers. As a leader what you need to realize is that your team will be watching to see who is successful and who fails. This will define the company culture to them. Those employees who are successful will become role models for what the company believes is important and this will end up defining the company’s culture to your team.

What All Of This Means For You

It means one thing to be a manager, it means something completely different to be a leader. Most managers would like to become better leaders. In order to make this happen, we need to change the way that we interact with our teams and do team building. It turns out that there are three key skills that we need to develop in order to become better leaders for our team.

In order to be an effective leader, your team needs to trust you. This all comes down to how much integrity you have. Your team is always asking themselves if they can trust you. They have to be able to believe that they can trust you before you’ll be able to lead them. If you want to lead your team, then you are going to have to show them that you respect them. Respect means that you have to respect them all, including the women on your team. Every team needs to have a very clear identity. As a leader you can make sure that your team has an identity by reinforcing what the company stands for over and over again.

Management is something that we can learn about by taking a class or reading a book. Leadership is a bit trickier – getting people to follow you takes a special set of skills. In order to improve your leadership skills, you need to take the time to understand how your team sees you and then take steps to improve it. Work at the traits that we’ve discussed and you’ll have the ability to become the leader that you’ve always wanted to be.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What steps can you take to increase your integrity with your team?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Can anyone remember going to kindergarten? Way back then life was a lot simpler. We all had a set of rules that were given to us on how to behave (say “thank you”, be kind to others, listen to what the teacher has to say, etc.). Now perhaps not everyone followed each of these rules all of the time, but at least we all knew what the rules were and could always refer back to them. Now move forward into the future in which we are now living. Incivility and it’s close cousin bullying are becoming a bigger issue in the workplace. What is a manager to do?