To understand how managers are leading their teams at companies with great organizational cultures, we dug into our data from a sample of 75,000 employees and more than 10,000 managers. We reviewed employees’ ratings of their workplaces in their employee surveys as well as their open-ended comments about their managers.
In analyzing the data, we looked for patterns and traits distinguishing great leaders from not-so-great leaders.
Our book, A Great Place to Work For All, delves into the five different management styles that we uncovered in our analysis and shares the unifying traits of each one. If you aspire to be a For All leader, one that demonstrates the most effective leadership traits, there are some habits you need to bid adieu.
1. Socializing with the same team members all the time
When you connect with some people more than others, it creates an atmosphere of uncertainty, one where people aren’t sure they can count on their team members. This also leads to a broader erosion of trust, since a climate of doubt among employees is counter to a high-trust culture.
So, get outside your clique and mix with coworkers who you don’t usually. Sit with them at lunch, suggest after work trivia night or simply ask them about their weekend more often.
2. Valuing getting things done over talking to people
If you are mainly concerned with checking tasks off a to-do list or hitting KPIs, you may be missing the point. Building strong two-way relationships is at the core of trust and engaged teams. Make time to foster the personal connections necessary for employees to feel empowered and engaged.
Don’t shut yourself away in a confined office all the time. Take off your noise-canceling headphones and make space for conversations with your team members.
3. Ignoring what’s going on in people’s personal lives
The days of asking your employees to leave their personal lives at the door are over. Similarly, leaders today need to move past cordial conversations and open up and be authentic. When you do, employees are able to bring their whole selves to work and realize their full potential.
When someone in your team is having a rough time at home, sometimes all it takes is asking, “Are you OK?” for them to feel seen. If a person is mourning the loss of a loved one, acknowledge it with caring words or flowers.
4. Feeling that reaching goals lies entirely with you, not your team
When you hold yourself entirely responsible for the team’s success, you are less comfortable being open and vulnerable about your own failings, which can prevent you from connecting with your team. As a result, your employees might not see you as being completely competent or a reliable communicator.
Shed any ego attached to being a leader and place trust in your team to produce great work. Resist the urge to take over team projects, as this will only erode trust, make your team feel undervalued and remove your opportunity to delegate.
5. Exhibiting technical competency over 'soft' skills
Technical competency is great, but as a manager, your role is also to lead and to inspire. Maybe you’re a creature of habit, clinging to old patterns.
Maybe your style reflects the way you are treated by your own boss or a bureaucratic organization that doesn’t give managers much power. But you can’t be a great leader without the skills to communicate well with your team.
Be tolerant, practice active listening, and learn how to give and receive constructive criticism. Respect the opinions of others, and empathize with them.
Think you need to work on these skills? Observe people in your company who excel in these areas. Take an online communication skills course or volunteer for social planning commitments at work.
The good news is there’s hope for every manager out there. To improve, you first need to understand your strengths and where there is room for improvement. Our leading employee survey solution can help you get the data you need to become the For All leader you want to be.