How to Help Your Top Managers Lead Effectively: 6 Essential Traits 

How to Help Your Top Managers Lead Effectively: 6 Essential Traits by @MarkFritz, Leadership Development, Business

HR Managers are always looking for more effective ways to grow their top manager’s leadership abilities, and the most successful focus on creating and reinforcing these 6 essential leadership traits.

Also, they look to include two very key attributes to their leadership development programs:

Repetition and Intensity

Repetition is important to create new habits from what the managers are learning and the Intensity of the learning fuels the managers drive to create these habits faster. Both are necessary to engage managers at the right level and make what they are learning stick (to both implement and pass along to their people).

Now, the 6 Essential Traits

1. Drive (Impact)

Let’s say you just bought the dream car you always wanted, and can’t wait to show it off to your friends. However, you won’t get very far down the road to your friends if you don’t have any petrol (fuel) in the car. Your managers need their own internal fuel that will both drive themselves and help motivate their team around them to make an impact.

This is something that cannot be ordered from above, but something that is developed and reinforced from within. Your managers might possess key management skills, but will never become the leader you expect from them without having the internal drive within themselves too.

Assess this internal drive within your managers before you implement any leadership development for them. Otherwise, you might not be making an investment that will produce a good return.

2. Discipline (Habits)

Discipline within everything is not a requirement to become a successful leader. That is true, it is the discipline to create new habits that are needed. Drive provides the fuel, but it is the discipline and the core leadership habits that provide the road to drive on (the foundation of your leaders’ success). It is important to reinforce with your managers that they will need to discipline themselves long enough to create new habits (something they will need to do daily and weekly).

A great follow-up question after any leadership development program: What are the new habits you have created as a result of the program?

3. Display (Role Model)

Think back to when you first became a manager: Did you really know what a manager should do? Not really, right? You ended up just copying what you saw your current manager do or what other managers did in the past. That’s why it is so important for the managers in your organization to display to their people the right consistent leadership behaviors.

Their people will copy what they see, so you want them copying the right things. The key word here is consistent, as the consistent behaviors will get noticed more and copied more too.

Remind your managers that one of their key responsibilities is to be a good role model for their people. What current managers do becomes what future managers will do.

4. Different (Adapt)

You have heard of the golden rule: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. However, there are four main personality types in the world, so if you communicate and interact with everyone as you would want; then you are not linking well with 75% of the world. Successful leaders are consistent as we learned above, but within their communications and interactions, they are consistently different. Your managers need to learn to adapt their approaches to the different styles and personalities within their organizations, and their communications will be far more effective.

The ability to adapt has its foundation in self-awareness, and then the desire to think of others (and how they would like to hear it), and away from ourselves (the easiest way for us to say it). Help your managers learn more about themselves and to more successfully adapt to others.

5. Delegate (Let Go)

Managers who have learned to delegate will have changed the way they feel in control. At first, control comes from knowing everything and telling everyone what to do. Leadership begins when you realize that more control comes from giving control. As they say: Micromanagement comes with a speed limit. Your organization’s speed is then limited to your manager’s capacity versus the organization’s capacity. Also, true letting go means letting go of decisions, and not just activity.

Help your managers understand what they need to feel in control, as this is often the number 1 reason they will not delegate more to their people. Another reminder, delegating is the best way and the fastest way to develop your people, and to grow the right future leaders within your organization.

6. Deliver (Commitments)

Do you like to do everything you need to do in order to be successful in your role? Probably not, and that is true for everyone around you too. Leadership requires your managers to ensure everyone keeps their commitments even when doing things they don’t like doing.

It’s really a Pull (them wanting to do it) and Push (them having to do it). Your people honor their commitments when the motivation is there 1) They want to do it because of the impact they will make or 2) They have to do it because their reputation will take a hit if they don’t deliver on what they committed to do. Successful leaders ensure their people deliver on commitments with both Pull and Push.

Take a look at what your managers are using to ensure their people honor their commitments. Too much Push can make your organization too bureaucratic.

To Summarize…

Before starting a leadership development program within your company, ask your managers these 6 key questions that relate to the traits:

  1. What is the impact you want to make within your organization and why? (Drive)
  2. What are the habits you rely on each day/week to perform at a top level? (Discipline)
  3. Who is the role model you need to show in your daily/weekly behaviors? (Display)
  4. In which ways do you adapt to the styles and personalities around you? (Different)
  5. Using a scale of 1 to 10, how would your people rate your ability to let go? (Delegate)
  6. What is in place to ensure your people will honor their commitments? (Deliver)

Start with these six questions above and you will see far more clearly the starting point in your leadership development efforts for your top managers.

And finally…

Whatever your top managers learn, part of their responsibilities as a leader is to share it with their people…so their people can grow faster too (Make Sure They Share It On).