So, you want to learn how to be a good manager and leader? Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that if you put in the work, you can reach this goal. The bad news is that the journey takes longer than you realize.
Think about it. It’s like being voted the People’s Sexiest Man Alive. That spot is solely reserved for Paul Rudd. Well, at least until Matthew McConaughey makes a comeback.
The point is that being successful isn’t something that just happens overnight. It takes time, effort, sacrifice, and lots of sleepless nights.
Tom Brady, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffet have the incredible ability to captivate a room and lead a team to victory. But even these famous moguls didn’t make it to the top by twitching their noses or waving their hands. They put in the work.
So, what qualities make a good manager and leader? Here are 14 steps that’ll get you on the right track:
Step 1: Do Your Research
The best way to become a great manager or leader is to learn from those that have done it before. Study how they think, how they act, and how they lead their teams.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to success, so find what works for you and adapt it to your style. But make sure that the fundamentals are there: integrity, communication, trustworthiness, and accountability.
Step 2: Get Feedback
It’s not enough to say the right thing or make the right decision. If you want to be a good manager, you often need to spend a lot of time being open to feedback. Constructive criticism can be tough to swallow, but it’s one of the best ways to learn and improve. Ask your team how you’re doing, and be open to how you can be better.
To be a good leader, you need to be open to change. And who better to help you change than your team?
Step 3: Set the Example
As a manager, you need to be an example for your team. You need to walk the talk and set the tone. If you’re not doing what you expect of your team, they’ll quickly lose respect for you.
But if you’re consistent in your actions and lead by example, your team will be more likely to trust and respect you—and everything starts and ends with trust.
Step 4: Know How to Motivate Your Team
It’s easy to say that you value your team and their contributions. But actions speak the loudest. If you take the time to make your employees feel wanted and appreciated throughout the day, you’ll gain their respect and their trust.
So, celebrate their victories big or small with donuts, a team lunch, or just a shoutout each week. Remember, people want to work for a company that invests in them as a person. They don’t want to feel like just another number. When you take the time to show how much you care, it goes a long way.
Step 5: Be Consistent
One of the biggest hurdles that face new managers is that they try to do too much, too fast. They’re eager to make an impact and show everyone that they know what they’re doing. But this usually leads to inconsistency and chaos—and ultimately, burnout.
The best managers know how to balance change with consistency. They set the tone for their team and stick to it. This doesn’t mean they’re inflexible or unadaptable, but they have a basic outlined plan, and their team knows what to expect week-to-week.
Step 6: Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
One of the best things about being a manager is that you’re no longer responsible for doing everything yourself. You can delegate tasks to your team and free up some time to focus on the bigger picture.
But delegation doesn’t mean shoving everything off your team and walking away. It’s essential to stay involved, offer support, and ensure that the tasks you delegate are being done correctly.
Micromanaging can be detrimental, but so can not being involved enough. So, find the right balance and make sure that your team is healthy and happy––not just efficient.
Step 7: Stay Calm in a Crisis
When things go wrong (and they will), it’s crucial to have a cool head and reason. Don’t panic. Don’t overreact.
No one expects you to have it all together all the time. But when someone looks up to you, they should see that you’re still staying afloat—even if you barely can get the boat across to the other side.
Plug the holes, embrace the waves, and get your business through the storm. Show your team that you’re in control—or, at least, fake it till you make it.
Step 8: Keep Your Team Engaged
Workplace engagement is just as crucial to a manager’s success, so make sure that your team feels happy and fulfilled.
This starts with how you manage them. Let people work for themselves when they need the freedom, but step in if things are going off track or slowing down too much.
Make sure people feel included and heard, but set boundaries so that they don’t overstep their role in the team dynamic.
Step 9: Keep Everyone Accountable
One of the most important jobs as a manager is making sure everyone does what’s expected of them, and how you do it will make or break your company culture. There are many ways to hold your team accountable, but the best way is to find what works for you and them and stick with it. It has to work both ways.
Some managers use face-to-face weekly meetings, Zoom sessions, or even a daily email newsletter to go over goals and deadlines. The goal is not to copy what everyone else is doing. Find a system that works for you. And then make sure that everyone is consistently held accountable to the same expectations.
Get creative and play around with some ideas until you find one that works best.
Step 10: Celebrate Successes (and Learn From Failures)
No one is perfect, and that includes managers. When things go well, celebrate with your team and take the time to learn what you did right. But be just as quick to learn from your mistakes. Accept feedback gracefully, and use it to make yourself a better manager.
People grow from mistakes and failure, so take the time to reflect on how you can improve––just as much as how your team can improve themselves.
Step 11: Be a Role Model (and Encourage Growth)
As a manager and leader, it’s essential to set an example. Be mindful of how you treat others. Your team should be able to look up to you as an ethical human being who does their best in all situations.
This doesn’t mean that mistakes won’t happen. In fact, sometimes mistakes are the best learning tools. But how you deal with these moments is what makes the difference.
Encourage your team to grow and develop their skills. Be a mentor and coach when needed, but also give them the space to experiment and fail forward.
Step 12: Have Fun!
Last but not least, make sure to enjoy yourself. It’s okay to have bad days sometimes, but how you react is what makes the difference.
Take time for yourself and do something you love every day. Find your “happy place.” You’ll be a better manager and leader for it. Make your environment a space that feels like home.
Remember, you can still meet your quotas and have a laugh with your team in the lunchroom. After all, a good work-life balance is key to being a great manager. So, celebrate with your team and take the time to acknowledge what they did right before finding out what you could have done better.
Step 13: Take a Moment to Reflect
Give yourself time to breathe, especially after a long project or a difficult situation. Take some time for yourself to reflect on how you can improve and how you can give yourself a break. It’s okay not to be perfect, and it’s also okay to not have all the answers. As long as you’re always trying to learn and grow, you’re on the right track.
So, after you finish the assignment, treat yourself to some ice cream, watch your favorite movie, or do something that relaxes you. You’ve earned it! Give yourself some space to reflect and be refreshed.
All work without a break doesn’t lead to good management. Just like busyness doesn’t lead to more productivity. Give yourself a break so you don’t burn out your team.
You need to prioritize yourself and your health to manage at your best, which leads us to the last step.
Step 14: Be Yourself (Your Team Will Love It)
Be yourself, and be real with your team. They’ll appreciate the authenticity of how you operate as a manager.
Be transparent with your feelings, and let them know that you’re human, too. They’ll feel more connected to you and will appreciate the fact that you’re not perfect either. They’ll also feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work and giving one-hundred percent of their time and effort.
People want to work with managers that remind them of themselves. They don’t need to see a mirror image of their personality, but when you give your team your authentic self, you create a more inclusive workplace that welcomes diversity, equity, and comradery.
As you learn to be a good manager and leader, remember that you’re not perfect, and neither is your team. But with the right amount of effort and a positive attitude, you can take on anything.
So, the next time you feel like giving up or losing faith in yourself––or even your staff––pat yourself on the back and remind yourself how much you’ve learned along the way.
Most importantly, have fun! Embrace the journey of becoming a good manager and leader. Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection.
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Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com