Teachers will tell you that while it’s great to be well-liked by students, you have to be careful you aren’t too well-liked.
If you are, that probably means you’re heaps of fun in the classroom and a marshmallow when it comes to giving tests, checking homework and doling out grades. And the students just love you!
But once those students grow up, the teachers they remember most are the ones who ruled their classrooms with a firm hand, who nicely but sternly demanded attention and dedication to learning.
The same principles apply to managerial leadership. Being a total softie won’t get you good results. Being a tyrant won’t either. Find the perfect balance keeping these three approaches in mind, and you’ll be The Manager Everyone Wants.
- Advise—don’t hand-hold
Conscientious employees appreciate being told how to do a job better. What they don’t appreciate is hearing it every 10 minutes. This shows that you don’t have confidence in them to take the reins.
You might genuinely feel you’re being helpful. And in some instances extra help is called for. But when managers attempt to influence their employees’ work to fit their own preferences, they unintentionally telegraph the attitude “I can do it better myself.”
The key is to make sure your employees know up front what you want them to accomplish. Give enough details and information to work with. Make sure they have the proper tools to get their jobs done. And then, get out of their way.
If you’re too helpful, your employees might never develop confidence in their own methods, which can stunt their growth.
- Reinforce—don’t dictate
The most effective way leaders get their people to follow the rules is to follow the rules themselves.
When employees see you uphold workplace policies, they appreciate that you don’t hold yourself above the law of the land—and they’ll be more willing to follow your lead.
Yes, sometimes even trusted employees fall out of line, but acting like the Terminator when that happens doesn’t do any good. Issue edicts only when absolutely necessary.
- Encourage—don’t cheerlead
Your team got the go-ahead on a big project that could benefit the company and might give you, their manager, a big boost. So you want your employees to be as excited as you are!
Chances are, though, they’re not going to be.
Good leaders infuse just the right amount of enthusiasm without sounding too rah-rah. Too much enthusiasm for added work can look one-sided to employees, creating “what’s-in-it-for-me?” attitudes.
Tell employees what the opportunity means and emphasize that their efforts will make a great contribution. Knowing you trust them to do well will give them pride in their work.
Taking these three approaches to managing will keep your team working hard for you—and make your job more pleasant in the process.