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.
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