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“Authority—when abused through micromanagement, intimidation, or verbal or nonverbal threats—makes people shut down & productivity ceases.” Those are the words of author, John Stoker, and they describe an unfortunate problem that happens all too often in the workplace.
But as Harvard Business Review points out, under-management is the flip side of micromanagement, and it’s a problem too. As the name implies, there’s not quite enough management going on, and the workplace suffers as a result. Under-management often flies under the radar because the managers who demonstrate these tendencies aren’t actually incompetent. In fact, they’re often very knowledgeable about their business, as well as being good collaborators and well-liked.
Unfortunately, a strong desire to be liked can hinder productive leadership, making managers reluctant to do the things they need to do. And knowledge and collaboration only make up a part of the good leadership equation.
According to a recent CareerBuilder study, 58% of managers said they never received any management training. In fact, most of the managers who were promoted in the workplace were good at what they did, but not so good at helping the people around them become better. These statistics point to a disturbing fact: there are a lot of leaders out there who don’t know how to lead.
The good news is that it’s possible to improve one’s management performance. Yes, it will take some practice, but it’s a matter of will rather than ability. Below are four tips to help leaders overcome under-management.
1. Don’t Avoid Conflict
Conflict exists in every business, and to succeed in management one must become more effective at handling it.
Yes, conflict is stressful and unpleasant, but according to Runde and Flanagan, “The better able [leaders] are to engage, speak, listen hear, interpret, and respond constructively, the more likely they are to leverage conflict rather than be leveled by it.”
Conflict also provides opportunities to shine. Leaders should consider how they can use conflict as an opportunity to set a good example for others.
2. Help Employees Set & Reach Goals
“Helping employees set and reach goals is a critical part of every manager’s job,” says Harvard Business Review. “Employees want to see how their work contributes to larger corporate objectives, and setting the right targets makes this connection explicit for them, and for you, as their manager.”
“Goal-setting is particularly important as a mechanism for providing ongoing and year-end feedback. By establishing and monitoring targets, you can give your employees real-time input on their performance while motivating them to achieve more.”
Source: Harvard Business Review
3. Be Adaptable
“Great leaders adapt to their surrounding environments and empower the team to succeed together,” says Forbes. “They are in a perpetual state of preparation and embrace the inevitable changes their businesses will face.”
“. . . being willing to change allows you to move from a point of view to a viewing point—a higher, more expansive place, from which you can see both sides.”
Source: Thomas Crum via Causely
The best leaders are open to the ideas of others and adapt their plans to changing circumstances. They’re able to pivot when necessary while sticking to core values
4. Serve the Greater Good
Great leadership means being humble and willing enough to lead others in a cause bigger than themselves.
“Great leaders are incredibly ambitious, but never for themselves. Rather, they are ambitious for the company and possess the will do whatever is necessary in service of this greater cause.”
Source: Jake Rheude via Forbes
Remember that leadership isn’t about who’s in charge. Leadership involves helping the team stay focused on company objectives, keeping them motivated, and helping them do the best they can to achieve those objectives.
Rising above under-management is better for the organization the leader works for, as well as his or her career. But it requires constant focus, determination, and practice.
Being a great leader means continuous personal and professional development, regular feedback from their team, self-reflection and taking action when improvement is needed.
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