Many employees make the jump to management, but few managers become true leaders. Leadership development includes learning to truly motivate others by being an example and earning the respect of your team. It takes determination and empathy to become a leader worthy of respect. Here are some managerial tips to help you grow into that type of leader.
1. Develop Your Empathy
Start your leadership development journey by getting to really know your employees. Regularly spend time with your team members individually and as a group. Practice active listening to truly hear their stories and ideas. As their manager, you need to know their strengths, weaknesses and career goals. Share your own story, too. Your employees are more likely to respect you if they know your background and goals.
2. Become a Coach and Cheerleader
Further your leadership development by making sure every member of your team knows that they have your support. Leaders mentor their followers, helping them solve problems, cheering them on through difficult spots and celebrating their victories. Whenever possible, tailor assignments to help your employees grow. Work with individuals to help them meet their personal career goals, even if this means occasionally losing great employees as people move into new positions. When employees take risks and fail, acknowledge the attempt instead of focusing on the failure. Praise employee successes through multiple channels, such as in person, in an employee newsletter and by mentioning their accomplishments to your boss.
3. Build Trust
Always be honest with your direct reports. Share any company news in a timely manner, and run your own department with transparency. Build loyalty by being a hand-on manager, working alongside your team and actively helping to solve problems. When things go wrong, be quick to take the blame as the head of the department but never take credit for anyone else's ideas. Leadership development happens when you make the effort to truly lead your group on its missions and represent it in an honest manner.
4. Renew Your Commitment
Sometimes, managers lose their vision as they move up the corporate ladder. The best leaders don't let that happen. They know exactly how their department fits into the big picture, and they put best practices and innovation ahead of tradition and current protocol. Regularly review your company's values and mission and your own personal vision for your team. Then, share those thoughts with your employees, and strive for continual improvement to move closer to that ideal.
5. Take Risks
Leadership development requires a willingness to take risks. Any manager may be able to keep the current system flowing smoothly, but a good leader knows when to make changes to improve that system. Practice taking calculated risks to improve your department and ultimately your organization. Should your team be arranged differently? Is there a way to optimize your work environment? Do you have some good ideas for service or product innovations? Regardless of your ideas, learn to trust your knowledge and intuition to spur changes that make things better.
Follow these managerial tips to jump start your leadership development, building team loyalty and creating a culture of innovation. As your leadership skills grow, watch your staff become more engaged. You'll help improve retention, continuously meet team goals and improve the overall work environment.
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