As a manager I like to follow what I call “my 7 principles of management” when I work with my team. Sometimes we find ourselves overwhelmed and under pressure. Having a set of clear principles that are easy to remember can help us, managers, get back on track quickly. Mine are based on my own experience and have helped me in the past in numerous occasions.
The 7 principles are the following.
- A manager must be supportive and work for the team
- A manager must be flexible and adapt to the situation at hand
- A manager must be aware and connected
- A manager must challenge the team in constructive and engaging ways
- A manager must be trustworthy and lead by example
- A manager must be caring and empathic
- A manager must be transparent and operate with candour
From these principles you can probably see what my management style looks like. I will explore each of the principles in more detail below.
1. A manager must be supportive and work for team
This principle has to do with the concept of servant leader. The approach is supportive, encouraging and enabling those around. Servant leadership requires the leader to facilitate the success of the team by answering the question “what can I do for my team by removing obstacles to them achieving their organisational goal?”.
2. A manager must be flexible and adapt to the situation at hand
Increasing your flexibility as a leader will allow you to be more effective when working with diverse individuals and responding to a variety of situations. Through self-awareness and hard work it is possible to increase your level of flexibility regardless of your natural style.
3. A manager must be aware and connected
It is important for any manager to be aware of what is going on in the organisation as a whole. Depending on your context, part of your job could be to find opportunities for collaboration in other departments or to make sure on there is no duplication of efforts, and therefore waste. You will want to keep an eye on high performers and bring their knowledge into your team.
Additionally, you must also be aware of what is going on in your industry outside the organisation. If, like me, you work in software development, it is highly recommended to attend conferences and meetups, practice effective networking and be aware of the latest trends in your field, because you will need to give career advice to the people that report to you. It is also a good source of inspiration for motivational ideas for your team.
4. A manager must challenge the team in constructive and engaging ways
High performers get bored quickly if they do net get a constant flow of engaging and challenging work. As a manager you should be on the watch for this, and actively seek for interesting projects for your team. You should create your own if nothing comes from the business.
This will help your team, not only to sharpen their skills, but also to raise their levels of engagement and commitment with the organisation.
5. A manager must be trustworthy and lead by example
Trust is one of the truly essential elements of high performing teams. If people trust you, they will be willing to be honest and take risks on your behalf. But, you cannot just tell them you are trustworthy, you have to behave in a manner that clearly demonstrates trustworthiness.
Some key behaviours that can help build trust are showing integrity in every decision you make, genuinely seeking for opportunities to help others achieve their goals, collaborating instead of dictating and admitting when you are wrong.
Additionally, I would not ask my team to do something I would not do myself. This idea of leading by example is one of the most powerful behaviours you can show to make your team trust you.
6. A manager must be caring and empathic
Managers are not dictators and employees are not robots. If you work in a diverse team, you will have people from all kinds of cultural backgrounds and age groups, each one with their own particularities and problems. One day someone will need to leave early to pick up their kids from school, some other day someone will need to rearrange their holidays in the last minute. Whatever it is, as a manager, your job is to support them and understand their reasons when something comes up.
7. A manager must be transparent and operate with candour
It is really important to be transparent with your team and your organisation. Not only this will help to build trust, it will also make it easier for others to give you feedback and it will make you more approachable and easy to work with.
Sometimes you want to be nice, positive, and politically correct, but in general candour is more important. You should be straightforward, fair and honest, as this will help you to be a more successful communicator.