Kathambi Kaaria
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Climate Change, Sustainability, ESG & Leadership
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Becoming a good manager requires a balance between technical skills for work deliverables and soft skills to effectively manage the diverse personalities that make up work teams.

Experts identify various leadership styles based on different personalities, emotional intelligence levels, and work situations. As a manager tasked with leadership, you might find that you tend to gravitate toward a specific approach. However, getting the most out of your team and creating a favorable work environment requires dynamism in applying the style that works best for each situation. Doing so enables you to accommodate the differences in your team and enhances your effectiveness as manager.

Regardless of where you are on your management journey, asking yourself the following questions will set you apart as a capable and qualified manager, help you navigate career challenges, and prepare you to take on larger responsibilities.

1. Does my team work well in my absence?

The answer to this question defines your ability to empower your team to work independently in delivering organizational goals. Effective delegation is contingent on building a competent team who share a common understanding of expected deliverables, their responsibilities, and performance standards. Additionally, enhancing communication, teamwork, planning, and time management within your team will ensure that everyone works efficiently and cohesively.

When you delegate effectively, it frees up your time to focus on other responsibilities, and allows your team to learn, grow, and handle responsibility.

2. Is my team motivated?

Effective delegation does not necessarily mean that your team is motivated. Motivated employees move beyond doing what is required of them to become initiative takers who are engaged and driven to achieve results. As a manager, taking the time to inspire your team by making them feel valued is critical in developing a motivated team. To achieve this, aim to recognize and appreciate their efforts, outcomes and achievements, and do your best to support your employees’ individual goals, too. Even when things don’t work out as planned, keeping your team motivated requires you to support them, mentor them, correct them, understand them, and inspire them to do better through continuous feedback.

3. Does my team trust and respect me?

Trust is anchored in a team’s belief that their manager is competent and capable of leading them, providing direction, and giving oversight at work. A good manager builds trust by demonstrating competency, consistency, problem solving, and decision making capabilities, as well as impartiality in conflict resolution.

Gaining respect from your team is not synonymous with instilling fear in your team. Neither does it require you to be best friends with your teammates. Instead, respect develops based on your ability to be a compassionate but firm leader who is grounded and emotionally mature. It is indeed possible for your team to trust your technical abilities yet not respect you as a leader. A good indicator of respected managers is in the professionalism and integrity with which they manage themselves and their teams.

4. Am I building a talent pipeline within my team?

As you make your way up the career ladder, there is no greater marker of your effectiveness as a manager than the ability to leave behind a team that can fill the roles you leave behind. Quite often, managers focus on their own growth and development without helping their teams achieve the same. A good manager develops talent and productivity in the team by fostering professional growth, learning and skills transfer within the team. Together with Human Resources, managers can play a key role in identifying and nurturing employees within the team to take on greater responsibilities. 

Developing others is not simply an act of selflessness, it is also the recognition that as you move up the career ladder, you need to be able to rely on the teams you leave behind to help you excel.

5. Can I identify what my team members are passionate about?

I like this question because it introduces the importance of empathy and relationship building in talent management. Successful organizations and managers know that getting the best out of their employees is measured by both competence and passion. As team leaders, managers can play a critical role in identifying what employees are truly passionate about and help guide them toward career paths that recognize their motivations and bring out their unique talents and gifts. In turn, employees who feel that they are valued offer the best of themselves to their employers. To excel at this, take time to know, observe and talk to your team to learn about what they enjoy and what roles they feel bring out the best in them.

6. Am I growing as a manager?

Asking yourself this question allows you to engage in candid self-assessment and use feedback for self-improvement. As a manager, you will experience tremendous personal and professional growth as you interact with the diverse people you lead. Take time to periodically evaluate your management skills and progress, and take corrective action where necessary. Aim to be honest with yourself, celebrate your successes, take responsibility for your failures, and commit to work through your shortcomings. By doing this, you will become and more self-aware manager, and you will be well on your way to success.

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Kathambi Kaaria is a sustainability strategist and writer. She heads the consulting practice at CREIDE.

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