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10 Must-Have Life Skills For Great Managers

10 Must-Have Life Skills For Great Managers

Horrible bosses are everywhere on TV and in the movies. If they’re not tyrants who insult, harass, or hurl packages at their staff, they’re cold-hearted cynics who steal ideas and take the credit. Or, they’re bumbling louts forced to buy themselves a “World’s Best Boss” mug.

Sure, these portrayals are farfetched (well, most of them), but they also sprout from grains of truth. We’ve all known managers who drove us to quit our jobs or wish that we could.

But here’s what’s interesting: It’s rarely the experience, education, or technical skills of these bosses we gripe about. We’re far more concerned with their “life skills”.

Take the self-reflection quiz at the end of each section to rate yourself on these 10 must-have life skills for managers. For improvement ideas, download the full workbook.

1. Empower Other People To Lead

Among the most common job complaints is this: I don’t get enough opportunities for development. Ambitious employees embrace the chance to be challenged and become energized at the prospect of demonstrating their versatility and potential. Offering leadership opportunities is a surefire way to develop and keep your best employees. A great manager is always teaching and empowering employees with opportunities to make decisions and develop new skills.

Are you an empowering manager? Take the quiz.

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Empower Other People to Lead

    2. Demonstrate Humility

    Nothing breeds an “us vs. them” mentality faster than a manager who makes employees feel beneath them. When you display humility as a manager, you signal to your team that it’s OK to show weakness and that failure is simply a bump on the path to success. Your employees will in turn feel emboldened to take risks and be resilient in the face of setbacks. A great manager knows that it’s possible to demonstrate confidence and maintain a leadership position without arrogance, ego, entitlement, or pride. They’re able to admit weakness, show a willingness to learn, take responsibility for failure, and credit others for success.

    Are you a humble manager? Take the quiz.

    Demonstrate Humility

      3. Write With Clarity

      Whether you’re leading a small team, large department, or your own company, clear written communication is a must-have skill. Ironically, communication is often dismissed as a “soft skill,” yet employees regularly point to unclear communication as a trait they dislike about upper management. Great managers invest time and thought when crafting written communication to their teams. They write concisely and clearly, keeping their employees’ perspectives in mind, and take care to avoid jargon, complicated words, and long sentences.

      Do you write with clarity? Take the quiz.

      Write With Clarity

        4. Use Positive Body Language

        Our body language communicates much more than the words we speak. As a manager you can inadvertently quash creativity and morale with subtle facial expressions and shifts in body position that convey annoyance or resistance. Negative body language also can make you less likeable. And if your employees don’t like you, they won’t listen to you, trust you, or feel motivated to exceed your expectations. Great managers keep their body language and spoken words in sync and balance a confident physical presence with gestures, smiling, and eye contact to convey empathy and warmth.

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        How positive is your body language? Take the quiz.

        Use Positive Body Language

          5. Be Generous With Praise

          Have you ever worked for a “no news is good news” boss? You know, the type who only calls you into her office if she has bad news or criticism to offer? Don’t be that kind of manager! If your employees don’t feel appreciated, they’ll stop caring about their job. Wouldn’t you rather have employees who love showing you their work, sharing creative ideas, and including you in problem-solving discussions? Being generous with authentic praise is a core trait of a great manager. They recognize effort and achievement privately and publicly, and lay the groundwork for praise by setting both achievable and stretch goals.

          Are you generous with praise? Take the quiz.

          Be Generous With Praise

            6. Be Thoughtful With Criticism

            No one enjoys receiving criticism, but when delivered effectively, critical feedback is essential for developing skills and overcoming weaknesses. Unfortunately, most managers aren’t great at giving feedback; either they’re too harsh and direct or too soft and unclear. The good news: giving effective feedback is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Great managers always keep their emotions in check and their facts straight when delivering criticism, and keep the recipient’s growth and development at heart.

            Do you give criticism thoughtfully? Take the quiz.

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            Be Thoughtful With Criticism

              7. Respect Other People’s Time

              If you’re managing a team, a department, or an entire company, you’re busy — everyone gets it. But being chronically late to meetings, appointments, and events isn’t a symptom of being busy or important; it’s a sign of disrespect for others and a lack of discipline for yourself. When you no-show, cancel at the last minute, or arrive late, you disrupt the productivity of your team and send the message: I am more important than you, and my time is more valuable.  Great managers communicate integrity and earn respect and trust by being punctual, attentive, and ending meetings on time.

              Are you respectful of other people’s time? Take the quiz.

              Respect Other People's Time

                8. Like and Be Liked

                Research shows we like people who like us — who ask us questions and pay us compliments, who possess similar interests, backgrounds, and attitudes. As a manager, you can use this fact to your advantage: By being more likable, in an authentic way, you can increase employee loyalty and engagement. Most important, your employees will open up to you in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. For instance, compared to employees who feel neutral about your personality, those who adore you might be more willing to trust you with their creative ideas, share their concerns, or pull a longer shift when you most need their help.

                Are you a likable manager? Take the quiz.

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                Like and Be Liked

                  9. Show Up To Be Nowhere Else

                  You know the feeling: You’re talking to someone with great enthusiasm, but you’re not getting their full attention. You can hear a keyboard clacking or papers rustling, or you notice them stealing glances at their phone. You feel deflated. Why bother talking to someone whose mind is elsewhere? And if that person is your manager — whose respect you covet — it can feel even worse. Great managers “show up to be nowhere else”; they use active listening skills, stay engaged in the conversation, and are attentive to details.

                  Are you a present, engaged manager? Take the quiz.

                  Show Up To Be Nowhere Else

                    10. Communicate High Expectations

                    We’re all affected by what our mentors, teachers, and managers expect of us. When they convey higher expectations of us than we have for ourselves, we tend to believe we can succeed — and therefore often do. As a manager, you can put this concept to good use. Communicate high expectations to your employees via verbal and nonverbal cues and you’ll boost their self-esteem and performance, setting the stage for a more engaged, productive workforce. It’s easy to do with employees who already exceed expectations; the greater challenge is conveying high expectations to everyone else. Great managers encourage all their employees, not just those who consistently outperform.

                    Do you communicate high expectations? Take the quiz.

                    Communicate High Expectations

                      10 Must-Have Life Skills for Great Managers

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                        Published on December 13, 2018

                        How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

                        How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

                        If you’ve ever thought about starting and running your own business, you’re not alone. Being your own boss, having flexibility with your schedule and keeping more of the financial rewards that come with business ownership are all good reasons to own your own company.

                        But as you might expect, it’s not all vacations and fat bank accounts. According to the SBA, 2/3 of businesses survive at least 2 years and approximately 50% survive 5 years.[1] So why is the failure rate so high? At least for the businesses that fail early on, lack of, or poor planning can be a major factor.

                        So how to start a company?

                        Starting a business from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, but it does take planning and work. Here are the first and most important 9 steps to take when your are starting a company from scratch.

                        1. Do an Honest Evaluation of Yourself

                        Do you work better in a structured or unstructured environment? Does a daily routine reduce your anxiety? What kinds of things are you good at? Does public speaking or making presentations make you nervous? Are you good at accounting and numbers? Can you handle the rejections you’re bound to get when selling or cold calling?

                        These are all important questions to ask yourself, in fact it’s a good idea to get other peoples opinion about their perception of you in each of these situations.

                        Whatever the answers you come up with for your evaluation, remember that’s all it is, an evaluation of where you are now. Think of it as a way to identify both your areas of strength and weaknesses.

                        You maybe good at public speaking which can help when raising money, but bad at accounting which just means that you’ll need to find some kind of help with that area of the business.

                        2. Evaluate Your Idea

                        If your business idea involves a new product or service (or even an enhancement to an existing product or service), it needs to be evaluated. This is technically called market research.

                        There are firms that specialize in doing market research for new products, but if you are on a tight budget, you can do this yourself.

                        First, if you can build a prototype for people to use, touch and look at that’s the best option. If a prototype is not possible or it’s a service business, then offer a highly descriptive presentation of the business plan complete with it’s unique benefits and how it’s different from the competition.

                        Then listen! Remember that this is not about others liking your product, this is not your baby that they are talking about. You want honest market research that gives you the best chance for a successful business. Take notes, when someone tells you that they didn’t like a feature or some aspect of your idea tell them ‘Thank you”.

                        After several rounds of market research with different groups of people, you should see patterns emerging about things that they both liked and didn’t like. Use this information to tweak your product or service and do another round of market research.

                        Keep in mind that you’ll never come up with a universally loved product, your job is to produce a product or service that appeals to the broadest range of your target market.

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                        3. Make a Business Plan

                        I know, I know this isn’t the “fun” part of starting your own business, but it is an very important step in creating a successful business!

                        Basically, you can think of a business plan as an outline or blueprint of your business. A good business plan should have the following elements:

                        • Executive Summary – This should lay out the businesses product or service and the problem that it solves for the consumer.
                        • Market Evaluation – This should talk about the market you are serving. Is it an expanding market, and how does your product better fulfill the consumers in that market.
                        • Market Strategies – How are you going to penetrate the market and sell your product.
                        • Operational Plan – How will the company run from day to day? Who are the key employees and what are their specific rolls. Do your key players have specific goals set for them in advance?

                        A final word on making a business plan: while lying is never acceptable especially when you are using the business plan to raise money, it is acceptable to “put your best foot forward”.

                        Playing up the positives while minimizing the negatives is almost expected in a business plan.

                        Besides, banks as well as professional investors will both do a more in-depth analysis before investing any money into your idea.

                        4. Decide on a Business Structure

                        You have many options here, and discussing them with your accountant or financial adviser is really the only way to know what’s right for you. But just to give you a quick rundown of the types of business entities and their pros and cons we will briefly go through them:

                        Sole Proprietorship

                        This is a common way for small businesses to get started.

                        The pros being:

                        Relatively low costs to set up (usually a business license and sales tax license).Owners normally do not have to set up a special bank account, they are allowed to use their personal one. Any income earned can be offset by other losses (check with your state!). You as the sole proprietor have complete control over all decision making. 

                        Finally, sole proprietorship’s are relative easy to dissolve.

                        The cons of using a sole proprietorship include:

                        You as the sole proprietor can be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the company. Some benefits, such as health insurance premiums, are not directly deductible from business income.

                        If you need to raise money, you are not allowed to sell an equity stake in the company. In that same vein, hiring key people maybe more difficult because you cannot offer them an equity stake in the company.

                        Partnership

                        A partnership is formed when two or more people decide to start a business. Although there is no legal requirement for any documentation to form a partnership, it is my advice that you never enter into a partnership without having a partnership agreement. (Remember, spending $1500 now can save you $150,000 in legal fees later!).

                        The pros of a partnership include:

                        Being relatively easy and inexpensive to start. Hiring key employees can be easier as you are allowed to give equity ownership to as many partners as you want.

                        For tax purposes, partnerships are relative simple as any income is treated as “pass through” meaning that each partner pays tax on their individual portion of the partnerships income (As of this writing, always check with your tax adviser).

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                        As far as the cons go:

                        It can be difficult for some general partnerships to raise capitol. Because it is a partnership, the actions of one of the partners can obligate the entire organisation. All profits must be shared according to the partnership agreement regardless of the amount of work done by any single partner.

                        Some employee benefits may not be able to be deducted on income tax returns.

                        Limited Liability Company (LLC)

                        This is a very popular business entity for small to medium sized businesses. The reason for this is the cost of set up is not prohibitive and there is a separation between the owners and the company.

                        The pros of an LLC include:

                        Limited liability for the partners, unlike sole proprietorship’s and partnerships where the owners are held responsible for all of the companies debts and liabilities, an LLC provides some protection against certain debts and liabilities that are solely the companies.

                        Simple taxation, just like the sole proprietorship and partnerships, income is considered “pass through” and is only taxed once on an individual level.

                        There is no limit on the number of shareholders in an LLC. An LLC requires fewer fillings and administrative requirements than a corporation.

                        Corporation

                        A corporation is much more complex and expensive to set up. And a corporation is legally considered an independent entity that is separate from its owners.

                        The pros of a corporation include:

                        Complete separation between the owners and the company. Because the corporation is considered its own legal entity, owners can not be held personally responsible for any debts or liabilities of the company.

                        A corporation can raise capital much easier just by selling more shares in the company.

                        Cons of corporations include:

                        Much higher administrative costs than any other business entity. Corporations generally have a higher tax rate. Dividends are not tax deductible for corporations. Income paid in dividends is taxed twice, once by the corporation and again by the shareholder.

                        Again, this is just a short summary of the pros and cons, always check with your tax adviser about what will work best in your situation.

                        5. Address Finances

                        Again, not one of the “Sexier” parts of starting your business from scratch, but very important nonetheless.

                        So, you’ve done your business plan and an estimate of your start up funding should be included. It should include the amount of funding you’ll need to get you through your first full year of operations.

                        Now, how do you get that money?

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                        Self Funding

                        If possible, self funding is the easiest. You won’t have to go to banks and investors with hat in hand, or give up ownership or control of your company. But as we know, this is not a reality for most people. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of options available.

                        Friends and Family

                        They can be a good source of funding your business if they can see and understand your vision.

                        Remember that business plan? Pass them out to everyone you know. Then follow up, be prepared to tell them the total amount of money you expect to raise, the minimum investment you are looking for and what you will give in return for the investment.

                        For example, you give a friend your business plan and follow up with him/her a few days later. You can explain that you have secured funding for $80,000 of the $100,000 you need. You are selling a 2% share in the company for every $2,000 investment. How many shares would he like?

                        And when he/she tells you no, thank him/her and ask if he/she can think of anyone off the top of his head who might be interested? Tell him/her you really appreciate his/her time and if he/she does come across someone who might be interested to let you know.

                        Banks

                        These guys are happy to lend you money when you don’t need it, but all of the sudden they get stingy when you actually need a loan! This is where preparation comes in.

                        It’s a good idea to go over your business plan with an expert and maybe even have it rewritten by an expert before you approach either a bank or professional investor. Both will want to go over your business plan with a fine tooth comb, verifying all the numbers and data you provide.

                        You should also brush up on everything in the plan so that you can answer any questions they have with authority.

                        Crowdfunding

                        Finally, there is crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Crowdfunding helps to build interest, community spirit, and a customer base. It’s also an efficient way to raise funds. You can take a look at these tips to find out more:

                        6 Crowdfunding Tips To Get Your Project 100 Percent Funded

                        6. Register with the Government

                        As stated earlier, different types of business entities have different filling and administrative requirements. At the very least, you’ll probably need a business license as well as a state sales tax license.

                        Unless you are forming a corporation, there are many good resources on the web that will do everything for you at a minimal cost.

                        7. Assemble Your Team

                        Remember when we evaluated your strengths and weaknesses? Here is where we fill in the gaps!

                        Do you hate sales and cold calling? Great! There are people who love selling and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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                        Bored to death with accounting? There are a ton of small accounting firms out there that will take care of that for you.

                        What about marketing? You can hire someone in-house or out-source that too.

                        Your job is to keep on top of all the different aspects of the business to make sure they are all running smoothly and getting the results you need. If not, it’s your job to figure out the problem and implement a solution.

                        Check out this guide and learn how to delegate effectively:

                        How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

                        8. Buy Insurance

                        No matter what kind of business you start, you need insurance! Yes, I know, no one likes to buy insurance, but it can literally be the difference between having a minor inconvenience and declaring bankruptcy.

                        We live in a very litigious time, even a minor slip and fall at your place of business could bankrupt you without insurance. If you need help finding a good agent, check with your local trade organizations or fellow business owners.

                        9. Start Branding Yourself

                        Has anyone ever ask you for a Kleenex or a QTip? We all know what they are because of branding, Kleenex is just a brand of tissue and QTip is just a brand of cotton swab. It doesn’t have to be as widely known as Kleenex or QTip, but you can make your brand a common name within your niche.

                        I once owned a manufacturing company that developed a product that was so popular that my competitors started co-opting my brand name for their products.

                        If you aren’t sure how to kickstart branding yourself, check out these ways:

                        5 Ways to Build your Personal Brand & Make More Money

                        The Bottom Line

                        Starting a business from scratch can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.

                        But do you know what’s even more rewarding? Having a business that succeeds, is profitable and provides a good source of income for you, your employees and their family’s.

                        More Resources About Entrepreneurship

                        Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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