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How to Be a Good Manager and Effective Leader

How to Be a Good Manager and Effective Leader
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Author and speaker Brian Tracy once said,

“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position.”

That sounds good, but how exactly do you become the sort of leader that others want to follow? Regardless of where you are in your career, everyone can learn how to be a good manager and effective leader. Being a leader is really all about knowing who you are and where you want to go.

Once you have this down you’ll be able to better share your ideas with others and bring out their best qualities.  As a manager, knowing what makes a good leader and how to put those traits into practice will be the difference between accomplishing an objective or failing to meet the demands.

Being a good manager and effective leader isn’t always going to be easy. Some of the most successful leaders in business, however, have credited setbacks and frustrations with invaluable learning experiences that made them better leaders in the long run. Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos once wrote in a letter to his shareholders that:[1]

“Failure comes part and parcel with invention.”

You may not feel like a born leader, but by working to embrace these traits, you can learn to not just be a good manager, but one who inspires others.

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1. Understand the Value of Those Around You

Regardless of whether they’re running a Fortune 500 company or a local diner, a good manager doesn’t take their team for granted. Your employees made a choice to join your team and will be more willing to accept responsibilities and tasks if they know you see them as a valued member.

Effective leaders guide those around them through challenges, because they know a team is at its strongest when everyone is focused and prepared for their particular duty. By showing genuine interest in those around you, you’ll communicate that you care about your employees and their role in the organization.

2. Embrace Collaboration

Few Earth-shaking innovations are the result of a single mind. An effective leader may have the spark for an idea, but they welcome collaboration from others to shape and mold it into a reality.

Successful leaders embrace a collaborative spirit with their employees by sharing their expectations and promoting engagement. This could be anything from group brainstorming sessions to team-building seminars and classes. It’s simply about inviting participation from those around you.

3. Set Your Employees Up for Success.

It’s a sobering truth that around 60 percent of new managers fail within their first 24 months.[2] Often times, not setting your employees up for success plays a major role.

As a manager, it’s your responsibility to know the roles of those on your team and what they need to accomplish their duties.

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  • Do they have the materials needed to perform their job?
  • Have they been given clear instructions on their objective?
  • Do they know who to turn to if they have a question?

These are all things that help to establish employee confidence and demonstrate strong management traits to those on your team.

4. Don’t Just Dictate – Listen

If there were one single trait that was crucial for an effective leader to have, it would be good communication skills. If all you’re doing is barking orders, then it’s not going to be long before you don’t have anybody to bark orders at, because everyone will walk out the door.

Virgin Airlines founder Richard Branson says that a good leader should be listening twice as much as they’re speaking.[3] He realizes that a good idea for solving a problem can come from anybody in his company whether they’re working on the top floor or at the very bottom.

Don’t try to solve every problem yourself, ask others for their opinion, and if somebody comes to you with an idea, give them the respect of listening to what they have to say.

5. Acknowledge Successes

Humans need encouragement and acknowledgment, plain and simple. If somebody does a good job, tell them so. An effective leader doesn’t rejoice in just their own wins, but celebrates the successes of those around them. Founder of Ready Steady Sell, David Sessford, says that the efficiency of his team improved by 35% by offering regular rewards and bonuses for hitting targets.

According to Forbes, 65 percent of employees want more feedback from their managers.[4] There are, of course, a multitude of ways to acknowledge an employee’s success.

  • A simple “great job” is always nice.
  • Celebratory drinks or meals.
  • Promotions and bonuses.

A little bit of recognition for a job well done can go a long way and oftentimes, it only takes a few minutes to show it.

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6. Learn to Resolve Conflicts

Conflicts between employees are bound to crop up here and there. How you choose to handle them can be the difference between a productive team and one that unravels.

As a leader, you should listen to both points of view and work to resolve conflicts quickly and effectively in the best way so that the problem doesn’t come up again. The secret to effective conflict resolution is learning to separate the people from the emotions related to the problem. By doing this, you’ll be able to better solve problems in a way that satisfies both parties.

7. Show Confidence, Not Arrogance

Good leaders thrive on adversity and are willing to take chances, as long as their failures provide a valuable learning experience. They’re calm during turbulent times and commit to a course of action. This might sound like blind arrogance, but it actually shows confidence, plus a willingness to challenge the norm and strive for something better.

When you know your values and have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish you’ll feel secure about the work you’re doing.

8. Inspire a Shared Vision

Remember that quote from the top about how a good leader would inspire others to follow even without a title? That’s because they know how to unite those around them toward a common goal or vision. This is done through good communication, confidence, and acknowledging successes.

Effective leaders are passionate about their ideas and actively look for ways to get those around them excited about an idea or goal. By connecting with your employees and helping them understand why their role matters, you’ll encourage them to share your vision.

9. Stay Up to Date With Your Industry

Your team members are going to look to you as the person with the plan. They want to know that you have ideas for capitalizing on the good times as well as weathering the bad times. This means keeping current on what’s going on in your field and continuing to expand your knowledge.

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Talk to other leaders in your field and network. Join local professional organizations. By keeping up with the trends and changes in your field, you’ll be that much more confident of a leader for your team.

10. Trust Your Employees to Succeed

Good managers know how to delegate work and aren’t afraid to put trust in their employees to accomplish a task. If you’re always second-guessing  your team members you’re creating a fear-based workplace, and likely a lot of resentment.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, employees don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. Well, micromanaging is a surefire way to drive your employees nuts and have them turning in a letter of resignation.

11. Recognize Potential and Foster Innovation

Take the time to get to know those around you, no matter what their position in the organization may be. Each member on your team is going to have their own unique skills and goals — nurture them.

A good manager is growth-oriented, for themselves and others. Strive to recognize opportunities for others to take on new challenges, and support strengths when you see them. Effective leaders groom others to lead.

12. Lead by Example

If you want those around you to be organized, motivated, and working towards a goal, then you should be, as well. Model the behaviors that you want your employees to embrace. It’s easy to simply tell somebody what to do, but it’s going to be far more effective if you set the example with your own behavior.

The Bottom Line

Learning how to be a good manager and effective leader doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice and willingness to work on self-improvement. Great leadership is about doing the right thing and inspiring the same in others. Are you ready?

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More Leadership Tips

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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