I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks with my car in and out of the shop. Mostly in. It’s old but I’m fond of it and I figure a little money spent here and there keeping it tuned up and running smoothly is well worth it.
All this time sitting in the shop also has me thinking about the tune-ups that are required for managers and supervisors to keep their leadership skills in top condition. More often than not, just like the car, a little routine maintenance is all that’s required to continue to be viewed as a good leader.
Here’s our tune-up list for routine leadership maintenance:
- Fine tune your hiring. When it comes to selection, it’s easy to just focus on the skills necessary to do the job. Great managers know that you have to start with “fit”. Too often, people are hired for their technical skills and fired for their interpersonal skills. Find the right person and then teach them the technical aspects of the job if necessary. It’s well worth it.
- Adjust your expectations around accountability. What message do you send when you talk to employees about accountability? There are times when employees will take on less responsibilities because they fear what will happen if they aren’t successful. Great managers build an environment where everything is looked at as a learning opportunity and not a pass/fail endeavor.
- Replace your communication filter. The longer your air filter sits in the car, the less air it lets flow through. Now is the time to look at your communication filter and make sure information is flowing to your staff. Anyone who has ever sat in an airport waiting for information about a delayed flight knows how frustrating it is to not hear any news. Make sure you are communicating updates often.
- Consider an upgrade or accessory. Training is one of the best ways a manager can keep her skills sharp. Invest in continuous learning for your management team. It doesn’t have to involve sending people away to an executive MBA program. Often, one E-learning program like Delegating will improve a critical skill.
- Get new tires. Management by walking around is still the best way to get out and see what’s happening with the work group. In addition, with the ubiquity of Fitbits and other wearable fitness technology, it’s a great way to add some steps to your counter. Unfortunately, many managers still choose to sit in their office and only leave when necessary. Take some time to get out and interact with your team. They’ll appreciate it.
These are just a few of the many tune-up items you can take on to improve your leadership skills. It’s not important to tackle them all at once or even to take on the whole list. What’s important is that you routinely work on something that will impact the way you interact with your team and your customers.
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