When you start a management position, all you hear is how you need to build a solid and high-performance team. True, but there's a misconception that you should only apply your leadership skills to your direct subordinates.
A management role goes beyond running a team and delegating tasks. Working towards your organization's goals and getting results that move the needle is the big picture that anyone in a leadership position should be looking at.
How do you do that? You need to expand your influence upward and horizontally. I know what you're thinking. Leading a team is challenging as it is, so why would you deal with your peers and boss on top of that? Managing your boss and your colleagues is not only good for the company, it also helps your career development plans.
McKinsey & Company researched this theory and proved that mobilizing CEOs and peers increase business impact and career success. When CEOs get honest feedback from trusted executives, they can sharpen the company strategy. And when managers engage with their counterparts in other business units, they are exposed to a wide range of perspectives and bring innovative ideas.
In this article, we will share some tactics to get you started on a 360-degree management style.
Management up, down, and sideways
Becoming a manager doesn't mean you need to solve everything by yourself. You have a team, but you also have a boss. Being afraid that your manager is too busy to help you figure out a few things won't get you far on your objectives and your career.
The first rule to manage your superiors is to keep communication open so you can share the issues you're dealing with. Don't be afraid to ask for advice; at the end of the day, that's technically part of their job description. Aligning your goals with your boss's agenda is also part of this process, a trick that will contribute to the company's overall performance.
Let's remember that this is not only about assigning duties. If you want results from your team, you need to provide guidance and clear direction; otherwise, you won't achieve your goals. Hiring the right people will make it easier for you. When you trust your team, micromanagement is not a problem, and giving feedback becomes a positive exercise. Frequently recognizing and rewarding good work and small wins is also a helpful management trait that will drive engagement, performance, and retention rates.
You may not report to other business units, but building a collaborative culture with other areas positively impacts the organization. Exchanging ideas and concerns with other managers sparks creativity and gives you another perspective to solve problems. Creating the habit of communicating widely about important projects and working jointly to attack strategic issues is a good start.
According to McKinsey’s research, only 56 percent of CEOs described their marketing leaders as role models who lead from the front, and only 61 percent of CMOs said they use their storytelling skills. McKinsey suggests that, if used, those skills will serve the purpose of mobilizing and engaging colleagues to deliver tangible results.
Leadership skills and behaviors needed to mobilize the CEO and colleagues are often mutually reinforcing. It's the balance between power and influence that will advance the organization's strategy. But when is it best to use power and influence in a 360 management approach? Let's start by stating the differences.
Power versus influence in leadership
There's much more to management than authority and power. When we talk about leadership, influencing people is an ability you must develop if you want to generate consistent results. Earning their trust and respect won't be easy when you only use power to lead your team. Yes, there are situations where you need to use your authority, but if you've been building a high-performing and loyal team, they will gladly receive it.
In a variety of management styles, finding the perfect balance of power and influence is a true leadership skill. Let's go over the difference between these two abilities.
Power is the capacity to impose your authority and make others comply in the particular way you want. People may not agree with you or believe that's the best choice, but they act because they're motivated by a reward or scared to face the consequences if they don't.
Influence, on the other hand, is the ability to change people's opinions, beliefs, and behaviors. But you don't tell people what to do; people follow your lead because they trust you. Influencing someone is a personal skill that requires persuasion and inspiration.
Using power when needed is not a bad thing at all. In any leadership role, there will be times when you'll need to impose your authority. When something unexpected happens, for example, you need to make quick decisions and take immediate action. You don't have time to influence your team, so enforcing your power, in this case, is beneficial. You are the manager for a reason, and that's the time to prove your knowledge and skills.
But on a daily basis, having a positive influence on your team, boss, and colleagues has a lasting impact on your organization and professional reputation. Reaching that position takes time and effort, but studies have proved that it helps you increase engagement and retention and improve the overall employee experience.
If transitioning to a management role feels too big for you to handle, you're not alone. Moving from individual contributor to team leader is exciting as you create new opportunities for your professional growth. It's also challenging as most people don't anticipate the extra responsibilities and struggles they might face.
These struggles, though, represent the norm, not the exception, even for the most talented individuals in your organization. And when a high-performance contributor fails to adjust to a management position, the company suffers significant human and financial costs. So why don't organizations pay more attention to preparing their people for the new role?
Stepping up as a manager requires additional skills to lead your team and improve their performance, make decisions, and take responsibility when things don't go as planned. The transition is difficult, but there are numerous strategies to help people develop for the new position and ensure a smooth transition.
Training is the best approach to understanding the goals and expectations of such roles, so taking advantage of any development opportunity will set you up for success. If you don't know where to start, you will find practical advice here to make a better transition to management. But let's first find out first why the transition to management is so challenging.
Why is the transition to management so challenging?
Misconceptions play a big part in someone's development as a manager. Most people have an idea of what it means to be a manager, but these notions are sometimes unrealistic and create false expectations that make the transition harder. By recognizing the struggles and taking action on them, new managers have a greater chance of success. Let's go over the most popular misconceptions in management.
7 tips to make a better transition to management
Make changes slowly
Take time to get familiar with the processes in place and understand management procedures before making any changes. Working side-by-side with your team and senior management will give you perspective on when is the right time to incorporate your ideas. So as you develop as a manager, you'll know what processes to keep and what to improve or change.
Take advantage of every learning opportunity
Whether the company offers formal training or not, there are plenty of opportunities to improve your management and leadership skills. Observe senior management, take courses on management techniques or look for mentorship possibilities in your organization. Taking advantage of every learning opportunity and learning new approaches to management will develop your strengths in your role.
Develop your leadership and management skills
As you settle into your new position, make sure management development is always part of your career plan. A good manager constantly learns leadership skills and management techniques to achieve personal and organizational goals. Focusing on ongoing professional development can help you succeed in your career.
Create partnerships around you
Leading your team/unit to success is your main goal, but managing up, down, and sideways will give you a deeper understanding of your organization and corporate goals. Once you understand your company's mission and how others support the operation, you can develop more effective plans for your team and organization.
When you're promoted, you become your peer's manager. So to ensure a smooth transition, work on creating an inclusive and positive culture in which your teams feel comfortable coming to you for support, feedback, and advice. It's your job to guide how to solve problems, but let them take on the challenge themselves.
Communicate openly with your team
Being open about the organization's decisions and strategic plans is essential to building a positive culture. That's how everyone better understands their role in the company, works to accomplish the same goals, and keeps engagement high. Effective communication also requires a coaching mindset to create a supportive and collaborative environment where leaders focus on keeping their team motivated and results-focused.
Set up regular check-ins and feedback
We mentioned that team building is key to succeed in your management efforts. But regular individual check-ins with team members will give you a clear idea of your team dynamics and personal goals. Same goes for feedback. There's no development without evaluating team performance and productivity. That helps you adjust your goals and set new ones that align with your people.
Understanding that stepping into a management position for the first time is challenging is the first move to ensure a smooth transition. Be yourself, and rely on resources and learning opportunities around you to improve your skills. Your success not only benefits you but the entire organization.
The Girard Training Solutions team includes experts in Learning and Development, Management Development, Facilitation, Learning Experience Design, Project Management, and Graphic Design.