Management is a demanding position with multi-faceted obligations and expectations. Sometimes you can get so caught up in getting things done that you miss key opportunities to lead in a meaningful way. Here, we’ll explore the methods and ideas to allow you to manage effectively and to become a respected leader. To begin, let’s consider the difference between being a “manager” and a “leader”.
• Do things right
• Focus on things
• Maintain stability
• Organize, control and direct
• Technical perspective
• Solve problems
• Make assignments
• Do the right things
• Focus on people
• Create vision
• Motivate, inspire and clarify
• Developmental perspective
• Offer resources and information
• Establish principles and boundaries
When striving to develop yourself into more than a manager – into a LEADER – there are eight common mistakes to AVOID:
1. Failing to act – This can include failing to act at all or failing to act sufficiently to a problem you are presented with. This commonly happens when acting involves an uncomfortable conversation with a resident or staff member.
2. Mishandling change – It’s imperative to actively participate and involve yourself in changes within the community from new apps or software to staffing.
3. Neglecting the staff – Make sure to engage your staff and ask for input from their experiences and solicit their opinions. Don’t forget the benefit in letting your staff know when they’re doing something right!
4. Failing people problems – Remember to be mindful of nuances when dealing with issues involving people. Be proactive in addressing issues before they grow and become unmanageable.
5. Promoting incorrectly – Understand that not every staff member is appropriate for promotion; good technical skills do not always equal good people skills.
6. Over managing – Over managing is synonymous with micromanaging! Self-motivated employees will not stick around long in a micromanaging environment. It’s okay to be clear with your instructions, but once you delegate, provide support but step back and don’t hover!
7. Encouraging burnout – The quickest way to encourage burnout is to find your strongest staff members and delegate the bulk of responsibilities to those few. Be mindful of how responsibilities are divided so you don’t drive out your best people under too heavy a load.
8. Ignorance and arrogance – Not to admit when you don’t know something or when you need to get approval from higher authority to approve something. It’s okay to be vulnerable.
Once you are confidently dodging those common mistakes, you can focus on making the most of the leadership opportunities that become available to you. Below are six crucial examples of leadership opportunities you should be on the lookout for:
1. Manage Weaknesses and Build Strengths – Although it’s useful to help develop staff and manage weaknesses, it’s even more important to focus on strengths. Ask your staff what they like best and what they feel most confident doing and utilize those strengths whenever possible!
2. Hire Better – Take more time with your interview process. Ask questions about the person to give you an idea of how they will behave in the role you wish to hire them for. Be aware of whether the candidate will fit your brand.
3. Practice Strategic Firing – Be observant of your staff and their day-to-day performance. Make note of shortcomings and engage the employee, giving them an opportunity to explain and LISTEN! Determine whether it’s an issue of “not knowing how” or “not being willing to” and make firing decisions accordingly.
4. Generational Differences are Real – Remember that different generations have different mindsets and goals. Be willing to have conversations in a way that speak to each generation.
5. Encourage Peak Performance – End the fear of making a mistake; allow employees to branch out and make mistakes. When a mistake is made, use it as a teachable moment and help build confidence.
6. Hold Yourself to the Highest Standard – People stay or leave primarily because of their boss. Be mindful of who you are as a boss and how you treat your staff and hold yourself to the highest standard.
In addition to these opportunities, there are smaller habits you can adopt which will help your staff see you as an approachable leader. For example, when you attend a manager’s training or Apartment Association program, share what you learned when you return, even if it may not be applicable to the staff directly. When there’s something new to learn at the community level, sit in with your staff for the training. Try developing a weekly learning list where you note what you learned about each staff member at the end of the week. Institute peer to peer recognition and ensure you openly praise accomplishments as well.
Leadership is something that is perfected with practice; it isn’t found in a book. Remember, leadership is like a muscle – it gets stronger with more exercise!
The Sue Weston Company, President