A former CEO of General Electric, USA, gave his managers a golden advice: Your people must see you in action. Remain highly visible to them.
Few lessons emerge from his advice for the smaller firms. Many managers are competent but few qualify as remarkable. If you want to join the ranks of the best of the best, make sure you embody some important qualities all the time. It isn’t easy, but the rewards can be truly phenomenal.
First, you need to keep a pattern of consistency throughout your company. You must make certain that you and the other managers agree on the direction of the company, ways of working and paths to follow in seeking opportunities. You must activate a principle of entrepreneurial thinking and encourage subordinates to look critically for new opportunities. The seeking opportunities would include two categories: Revenue expansion opportunities and Cost reduction opportunities.
Where possible, involve as many of your people in this process, especially, those who can actively think about such areas as customer needs, market growth and competitive advantage.
Get others involved
This should include from junior managers to experienced sales people. They are ideal to serve as positive contributors. Have them brief the group about the benefits of paying attention to market-driven opportunities. Then show them the potential impact on the company, as well as the contributions to their personal career growth. If necessary, focus on information briefings to instil the appropriate attitudes. Also encourage attitudes that are positive, outward looking and progressive turn to thoughts, words and initiatives which could trigger positive ideas.
Today’s uncertain workplace requires managers to pay close attention to others. You must be an active and attentive listener, practice patience, appreciate the unique talents and capabilities of your staff and be noticeably grateful for the effort and performance of their teams. Your staff are carefully observing you, looking for reasons not to trust you (because they have been burned so many times in the past), but ultimately wanting you to be worthy of their respect and loyalty.
Develop strong work ethic; set the standard
Remember - Actions are stronger than words. Great managers despise false promises and people that create lots of unnecessary noise to get attention. Prove through your work ethic that you are reliable and trustworthy on the inside and out. When you set the tone, you automatically become a role model. The tangible and measureable results of your consistent work ethic influence new best practices and cultivate innovation. You can set the standard and leave behind an indelible impact.
Sponsor high-potential employees
Always think about making others better. Don’t leach but lead. Find ways to discover the best in your people and enable their full potential. When you detect high-potential talent you must impart upon them their wisdom and provide a path for long-term success. This is an admirable quality and one that is highly respected amongst a manager’s peers.
Powerful executive presence
The most respected managers are the most authentic people. Their executive presence is genuine and true. Likewise, you must make those around you feel that they matter and welcome constructive dialogue regardless of hierarchy or rank. Trust yourself enough to live your personal brand and serve as powerful role models to others. Your presence should create long-lasting impact that leaves a positive mark on the organisation and the people you serve.
Recognise, respect and reward your subordinates
You earn respect when you reward and recognize your employees and colleagues. Take the time to appreciate and understand the unique ways they each think, act and innovate – and always be on the lookout to enable their talent. Earning respect is a journey and requires to focus on how you can “deliver beyond what is expected” of your role and responsibilities. It’s about always being on the look-out for ways to step up your game and being mindful of ways to make the workplace better and the organisation and its people more competitive and relevant.
There is a difference between management and employees, bosses and workers. You should understand the nature of this difference and accept it; it informs your image, your actions and your communication. Conduct yourself in a way that sets you apart from your employees--not in a manner that suggests you are better than others, but in a way that permits you to retain an objective perspective on everything that’s going on in your organisation.
Decisiveness - Make tough decisions. It goes with the job. You must understand that in certain situations, difficult and timely decisions must be made in the best interests of the entire organisation, decisions that require a firmness, authority and finality that will not please everyone. Don’t hesitate in such situations. You also should know when not to act unilaterally but instead foster collaborative decision-making.
Empathy - Praise in public and address problems in private. You need to guide employees through challenges, always on the lookout for solutions to foster the long-term success of the organisation. Rather than making things personal when they encounter problems, or assigning blame to individuals, look for constructive solutions and focus on moving forward.
Accountability - Take responsibility for everyone’s performance, including your own. You must follow up on all outstanding issues, check in on employees and monitor the effectiveness of company policies and procedures. When things are going well, praise the employees. When problems arise, they identify them quickly, seek solutions and get things back on track.
Confidence - Be confident, but make your confidence contagious. Your employees will naturally be drawn towards you, seek your advice and feel more confident as a result. When challenged, don’t give in too easily, because your opinions and strategies are well-informed and the result of much hard work. But when proven wrong, take responsibility and quickly act to improve the situations within their authority.
Optimism - Be a source of positive energy. Communicate easily. Be intrinsically helpful and genuinely concerned for other people’s welfare. Have a solution and always know what to say to inspire and reassure. Avoid personal criticism and pessimistic thinking and look for ways to gain consensus and get people to work together efficiently and effectively as a team.
Honesty - Treat people how they want to be treated. Be extremely ethical and believe that honesty, effort and reliability form the foundation of success. Embody these values so overtly that no employee doubts your integrity for a minute. Share information openly and avoid spin control.
Focus - Plan ahead and be supremely organised. Think through multiple scenarios and the possible impacts of your decisions, while considering viable alternatives and making plans and strategies--all targeted toward success. Once prepared, establish strategies, processes and routines so that high performance is tangible, easily defined and monitored. Communicate your plans to key players and have contingency plans in the event last-minute changes require a new direction (which they often do).
Put it all these together and what emerges is a picture of the truly inspiring manager: someone who communicates clearly, concisely and often, and by doing so motivates everyone to give their best all the time. Such a manager challenges his people by setting high but attainable standards and expectations and then giving them the support, tools, training and latitude to pursue those goals and become the best employees they can possibly be.
(Lionel Wijesiri, a corporate director with over 25 years’ senior managerial experience, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)