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Managing Managers: How to lead leaders

By Edited Jun 6, 2015 0 1

As a small enterprise becomes more profitable and expands, a business leader may decide to hire managers or team leaders to take care of new employees joining the business, forming a hierarchy or pyramid structure, featuring numerous channels or branches. Previously, the business leader might've only been in charge of a small number of people, which he or she would've led directly. The change will mean the business leader is no longer in charge of staff directly, but through the other managers instead.

While there are obvious benefits to this approach, with a business leader focusing priorities elsewhere while managers organise the work and employees, it's crucial that an aspect of responsibility, control and trust are exercised by those leaders to pass on jobs effectively. While leading employees may be one challenge, leading leaders seems to be a different game entirely.

So what is the best approach to adopt when supervising a management team? Here's a list of procedures detailing how to lead leaders properly:

Set understandable short and long-term goals: It may seem obvious, but it's crucial that managers know what they are working towards. Make sure to implement clear short-term (monthly) as well as long-term (annual) goals, which are achievable and realistic. If they have failed to meet their goals when expectations were clearly laid out and agreed upon, then they could be held accountable; however, if no clear path has been previously laid out, it's fair to say that their leader is to blame.

Do not establish plans without consulting them: A manager of a team might have been employed for a specific reason, for example their skills or knowledge on a certain topic, so imagine their annoyance if a decision is made by somebody higher up in the ladder - particularly if it is a lousy decision - without consulting them first or asking for their advice. When working on a company-wide plan that will impact certain managers, be sure to include them. If anything, it should help improve the plan, but also the manager should feel more involved.

Micromanaging - don't do it: It is a simple no-no, avoid it. Managing a manager's staff - on their behalf or instead of them - should be avoided as well, not only because it can negatively affect workloads and delegation but it could mess with a manager's plans as well. These are usually issues for the SME entrepreneur - someone who previously had to deal with employees directly but now has a bridge in the middle, but who also feels the need to keep a hand in everything and has difficulty putting faith in other people to do the job.

Listen to your managers: Listen to the concerns, suggestions and ideas of your managers, who may come up with something you have not thought of that could influence the whole business in a good way. Make sure they feel as though they can tell you anything, because if they can't - e.g. if they are scared of displeasing you - then you could find that you're missing out on chances or good ideas.

Observe your managers' people: It is important to keep an eye on a department or team's progress, without micromanaging (see above). Are employees content? Are they enthusiastic? Alternatively, is there high absenteeism and an on-going turnover of staff? The attitudes and behaviour of employees might be a consequence of a bad manager, whether the problem's with incompetence, bullying or something just as bad.

Treat every manager differently: At the end of the day, everyone is different, so there aren't any two managers who are identical, even if they appear to be the same in the ways they manage. Being able to understand managers and tailor approaches just for them should be regarded as one of the most effective ways to get the most out of them, which will then pass on to their department or team.

Effective management training plays a crucial part in improving and mastering leadership and management skills, regardless of whether it's a manager somewhere in the middle or at the top and whether it is a small or large company.



Mar 22, 2011 10:01pm
Great thoughts. Not many people focus on getting more out of people in charge
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