Becoming a manager is a natural career progression for most professionals and comes with a host of responsibilities that many are unprepared to cope with. Most organizations promote employees for performing well technically as individual contributors, not taking into account their people management abilities. This results in skill gaps for early managers and supervisors. However, by getting trained on key leadership skills for new managers and supervisors these gaps can be bridged.
Here are key leadership skills for new managers and supervisors that can enable their success in this critical role:
- Teamwork and Collaboration – Every manager should be able to build a strong team with a strong sense of collaboration. Having worked as individual contributors for a significant part of their career, early managers find it difficult to come out of the silo mentality. Building a team is about hiring the right people and building a culture that is supportive and collaborative to achieve team results.
- Giving Effective Feedback – The art of giving effective feedback is critical to the success of any manager. However, it is not easy to give feedback. Manager must overcome inherent human traits like biases and the need to be liked and focus on feedback to improve performance backed by relevant data. However, most managers struggle with a fine balance between giving no feedback or giving unconstructive feedback.
- Time Management – Another important skill that contributes to the success of any manager is the skill of effective time management. Since managers have to balance their own activities with supervision of team, they often find themselves overloaded with tasks. A result is either constantly working late hours or compromising on individual or team tasks. Effective time management can enable managers to prioritize work effectively.
- Delegation Skills – Closely linked to time management are delegation skills. Managers cannot succeed if they insist on doing everything themselves. Delegation not only frees the time of a manager to focus on more critical tasks, it also helps in developing the skills of the team members, makes teams more independent, keeps team members motivated and helps in succession planning. However, delegating effectively needs training and thought – various factors like skills of team members, their level of motivation, reason for delegation etc. need to be considered to delegate effectively.
- Emotional Intelligence – At the heart of poor performance by managers is the lack of emotional intelligence. It is important for a manager to understand and practice emotional intelligence where they are aware of their own emotional triggers and those of others. An emotional outburst in a critical situation does great harm to not just the working relationship but also the personal brand of the manager.
- Coaching Skills – Increasingly a manager is also expected to play the role of a coach. As a coach, a manager is required to enable the team members to get things done and deal with difficult situations. A manager is not always required to give the solution to every problem but nudge the team members in the right direction.
- Developing & Motivating Teams – One key aspect of the managerial role is to develop and motivate team members. A manager should be able to recognize the motivators of each team member and leverage that motivation. The manager should also be able to create personalized development plans for each team member, considering their strengths and challenges. The most common mistake a manager makes is to treat each team member the same – provide same incentive and development opportunities to all. A manager needs to recognize that individuality of each team member and personalize interactions with them as much as possible.
- Decision Making – This is another important skill for the success of a manager. Managers are often faced with situations where they need to take decision – sometimes in an ambiguous environment or sometimes the unpopular decisions. A successful manager should be able to navigate through such decision-making scenarios with utmost professionalism and effectiveness using various tools and strategies.
Many people come with an inherent capability and skills to be successful managers. However, all these skills can be taught and honed through learning interventions. What is important is to provide learning and training opportunities to the managers, either before promoting them or in the early days of being in the managerial role.