Take Charge and Lead

July 01, 2021

I am now a manager, responsible for directing a small team. To perform well in our roles, we need a blend of talents, including technical knowledge, emotional intelligence, and negotiation skills. Both within my organization and among clients, we interact with employees from diverse cultures and time zones. Striking a balance between work and relationships is critical.

2021 07 01

I've experienced impostor syndrome, especially when I consider the many talented individuals on my team. However, I recognize the value of a growth mindset and understand that improvement is possible. The strength of our team lies in our collective ability to enhance our skills over time.

For instance, public speaking terrifies me. When speaking before a large audience, articulating my concerns becomes even more challenging. After consulting a colleague, I found that I am not alone; many share my apprehension despite our culture of open feedback.

Though giving feedback can be difficult, I have started practicing and learning how to do it effectively. This effort requires both willpower and skill, but it's vital for the team and me to communicate effectively to improve our work quality.

To facilitate this, I might use the Situation, Behavior, and Impact (SBI) framework to offer constructive feedback. Instead of accusing or personally attacking team members, we should build trust and make space for problem-solving.

One significant managerial challenge is that we cannot change people who are unwilling to change. Our approach, instead, is to listen carefully and understand their feelings. We employ leading questions to encourage different perspectives and offer personal anecdotes as examples. As a result, we become better managers with a more positive impact.

Coaching and support can motivate the team to overcome problems and barriers, thereby improving management. By offering mutual support and timely feedback, we can create a synergistic culture. This involves a balance between motivational and developmental feedback, allowing us to identify each team member's strengths and weaknesses.

Coaching is about maximizing performance by unlocking potential. It involves helping people learn rather than directly instructing them. Through empathetic listening and open questions, we can support our team members' long-term growth.

I find the GROW framework useful for coaching. It stands for:

  • Goal: What you want to achieve
  • Reality: The current situation
  • Action: Steps to take
  • Options: Available alternatives

For example, I have a coach helping me improve my public speaking skills by setting objective, quantifiable goals. As managers, we often have to make difficult decisions affecting both the company and its people. We must consider various perspectives and continually test our understanding of others' issues.

Our decision-making framework is as follows:

  • What: What are you trying to achieve? Are the goals clear to everyone?
  • Why: Why is this important to everyone involved?
  • Who: Who makes the decisions?
  • When: When will the decision be made?
  • How: How is the decision reached? For instance, is it by consensus?

All leaders face additional decision-making obstacles, like unconscious biases and emotional triggers. However, such biases can adversely affect the quality of our decisions. To mitigate these biases, we need to be aware of them.

It's also vital to recognize emotional states that may lead to stress reactions, such as defensiveness or posturing. Viewing ourselves as team players can help mitigate these challenges.

To further refine our managerial skills, we can use the RACI framework, which defines who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. This helps articulate the decision-making process early on and provides a structure that balances the need for quick action with the need for team buy-in.

In summary, a good manager is an effective coach who empowers their team, avoids micromanagement, and fosters a positive team culture. Poor management can be demotivating and damaging, especially since employees are often a company's most valuable asset.

As a manager, it's essential to avoid negative behaviors and instead adopt a positive mindset for self-improvement. This benefits not just me but also my team and the broader organization. After all, we spend most of our lives working, so fostering a positive work environment is crucial.

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Victor Leung, who blog about business, technology and personal development. Happy to connect on LinkedIn