While it is assumed that managers have good leadership skills, this isn’t always the case. Regardless of how well folks manage their teams, their leadership skills should constantly be evolving and sharpening to meet the dynamic needs of the projects and the people that they serve. At EVOLVE to Lead, we urge managers to take a good look in the mirror and focus as much energy on their personal leadership development as on the development of their team. When team members see this investment, they will be inspired to work on their own leadership development as well. Soon enough your entire organization will run more efficiently! Check out the five leadership development goals that we believe managers should prioritize this year.
5 Leadership Development Goals for Managers
Not everyone is a natural-born leader. But as with anything, practice makes perfect, and boy do you need to put the work in when developing your leadership skills! It is integral for an organization’s growth and success to have well-developed leaders as managers. The success of managers trickles down to every level within your organization. Follow along as we detail 5 key areas you might need to revisit and start by setting one new goal in each area. By practicing inclusive listening, improving time management, fostering a culture of coaching, embracing and adapting to change, and investing in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB), you can steadily evolve to become the best leader possible.
1. Practice Inclusive Listening
Listening is more than just hearing what people have to say; it’s understanding what they are trying to say. In order to listen inclusively, you need to open yourself up to whatever the other person might have to say– the good, bad, or ugly. This can happen both mentally and physically. Pay attention to the feelings and values that are being communicated in their words. Maintain eye contact when someone is communicating with you. Use neutral body language such as facing the person who is talking. To the extent that you are comfortable, allow them to create the space between you. Pay attention to how you’re holding your hands. Ideally, they should be cupped, with your palms facing upwards. It is crucial that you ask relevant questions throughout the conversation, to assure the speaker that you are on the same page. And if you are not on the same page, it’s perfectly okay to stop and clarify with an open-ended question. The more inclusively a manager listens, the more space is created to exchange ideas and create mutually agreed-upon solutions.
2. Improve Time Management
People don’t often recognize they are insufficiently managing their time until it’s too late. If a manager is not properly managing their time, it is likely that their team isn’t either. The art of time management is two-fold: you must focus on organizing tasks AND completing them most efficiently. When organizing tasks, keep track of deadlines and create to-do lists, ranking tasks from highest to lowest priority. Compare how long each task is taking versus how long it ideally should take to complete. Realize when you can delegate tasks, and if you are delegating to the right person. Then you can begin to identify holes in your systems and procedures to see where improvements can be made. As a practice, only schedule 50 – 70% of your day to account for the time you actually need to work and for the unforeseen “fires” that you are required to put out.
3. Foster a Culture of Coaching
As a manager, you need to empower your team members to give 100% in order for your organization to perform at 100%. One way to encourage your team to be their best selves is to show them how much you care about their personal goals and development. This culture of care can be built through coaching. How can you become the manager that people look up to as a coach? It is important that you have routine 1-on-1 meetings with your staff, in which you don’t focus on projects that they are working on but instead focus on their short and long-term development goals. During these sessions, listen inclusively when they voice their concerns and make sure they know your support and interest in their future is long-lasting. Being highly aware of each individual team member’s areas of strength and blindspots will only work to strengthen the collective intelligence of the whole. When team members come to you for advice, know you have built a culture of trust that makes your employees feel safe and cared for.
4. Embrace and Adapt to Change
If you as a manager are not ready to embrace change, your organization will meet that same fate. As we have seen so clearly in 2020, many circumstances are out of our control. Companies grow, change, and disappear whether or not you are willing to accept that. When big changes are forcing you to adapt and you feel some resistance in response, try to focus your energy on the positive aspects of those changes. Make it clear to everyone on your team why the changes are necessary and stay mindful of where all individual team members are on the change spectrum so that you can support them properly. Resistance is often born from fear, so work to alleviate that in yourself first! Managers lead by example, and their behaviors are followed by all other team members. Keeping an open mind and adaptive spirit will encourage others to do the same.
5. Invest in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
DEIB is made up of more than just trendy buzzwords. It’s a commitment to creating a safe space for all employees where they feel they can be vulnerable and show up with their whole selves, at all intersections of identity and experience. Investing in DEIB in your team will broaden the breadth of perspectives that are brought to the table, sharpening and nurturing the collective intelligence of the team and pushing the outcomes of your projects further than they ever could have gone before. Committing to DEIB creates sustainable growth and will continuously push evolutionary leaders forward. Remember that safety looks and feels different to everyone!
Invest in Your Leaders with EVOLVE to Lead Today!
Creating development goals is not a one time gig. Managers should be ready to repeat the leadership development goal setting process over and over — after all, it’s all a part of being an evolutionary leader! Naming your leadership goals within the 5 areas of inclusive listening, time management, coaching, adaptability, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, will ensure that your organization thrives at all levels. Create a leadership development plan with EVOLVE to Lead today!