10 Habits of Highly Effective Managers
Here are 10 of the habits of highly effective managers. This is not an exhaustive list — but these will build a strong foundation on your road to increased management effectiveness.
1. Expanding Self-Awareness. Having a high level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is essential to being an effective manager—and EQ starts with having accurate self-awareness. Self-awareness can help us gain self-control and be helpful to people around us, not hurtful. Some tools to help expand our self-awareness: get feedback from others such as using 360 degree surveys; have a mentor to speak to in your life; and constantly seek feedback from others on how you are doing.
2. Pursue Continuous Learning/Improvement. Are you a perfect manager and person? Me neither. What we can do is to commit ourselves to be life-long learners and seek to continuously improve ourselves as managers and as human beings. I have been inspired by this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King: “I may not be the man I want to be; I may not be the man I ought to be; I may not be the man I can be; but praise God, I’m not the man I once was.”
3. Always do the Right Thing. Too many people have been victimized by the unethical behavior of those in leadership roles. Remember Enron? My co-workers and I at Portland General will never forget—we were owned by Enron at time of their bankruptcy and our retirement savings were decimated. Mark Twain said “Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.” My former pastor Loren Fischer said “it’s always right to do right”—and I agree.
4. Be Results- and Relationship-Oriented. As leaders we are expected to get results—and we should. At the same time, building positive relationships is the right thing to do—and it leads to great results. One tool to help build relationships is to consistently practice the 3 R’s with people. Recognize people for who they are and what they do; Reward people for individual and team achievements; and show people Respect—everybody wants to be respected, as the classic Aretha Franklin song emphasizes.
5. Achieve Big Goals One Small Step at a Time. I remember a grade school friend telling me the following riddle: “Question: how do you eat an elephant? Answer: one bite at a time.” Get the point? We need to set long-term visions and big goals for ourselves and our teams. And we need to break down the journey toward the vision and goals into manageable steps that inspire others to move forward.
6. See the Glass as Half Full. Are you normally a pessimist or an optimist? Studies have shown that the most effective leaders are strong optimists. Being optimistic does not mean that we ignore the half of the glass that is empty. It does mean we are thankful for the half that is full, and we work together to fill the rest of the glass as best we can.
7. Look for the Win-win. Effective managers don’t get locked into specific positions; they look for ways to meet interests of themselves and others so everybody gets something (a “win-win” versus a “win-lose”).
8. Spend A Lot of Time in Quadrant 2. Stephen Covey popularized the importance of intentionally spending significant time doing “important, not urgent” items. These include things like building relationships, reading and other learning activities, planning and thinking, exercise, etc. To spend more time in Quadrant 2, we need to spend less time in Quadrants 3 and 4 (i.e. “urgent, not important” and “not urgent, not important”)—activities like watching TV, playing video games and wasting time doing things that add no value to our lives or the lives of others.
9. Enjoy the Journey. Management (and life) is a journey, filled with both positive and negative experiences. The journey will be much more pleasant and we will go farther if we learn to laugh and be thankful. A Yiddish proverb says “what soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.” Studies have shown that laughter makes us physically and emotionally healthier—and more fun to be around too. Find a funny friend, enjoy a funny TV show or movie and just laugh. Being thankful is also important. The reality is that we all have much to be thankful for, and our lives will be more joyful and productive if we learn to develop an “attitude of gratitude.”
10. Remember, Your Health is Your Wealth. Gandhi said, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Living a healthy lifestyle will increase your energy, stamina and emotional well-being—and help us be more effective in all that we do. A holistic healthy lifestyle includes developing and using our mental capabilities. (Read a good book lately? Or taken a class just for the learning?) We are also spiritual beings, and finding faith and serving others can nourish our spiritual health.
Let me leave you with a challenge: don’t settle for mediocrity. Get in the game and go for management excellence.
Listen to this quote from Teddy Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts, nor the man [or woman] who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doers of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who spends himself in a worthy cause.”
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Wes Friesen is a proven leader and developer of high performing teams and has extensive experience in both the corporate and non-profit worlds. A former in-plant manager, he is also an award-winning university instructor and speaker, and is the president of Solomon Training and Development, which provides leadership, management and team building training. His book, Your Team Can Soar! contains 42 valuable lessons that will inspire you, and give you practical pointers to help you—and your team—soar to new heights of performance. Your Team Can Soar! can be ordered from Xulonpress.com/bookstore or wesfriesen.com. Wes can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.