Becoming an executive: THE manager ABC

What makes a good manager? How to become a better boss? What are his key leadership tools and principles? There are many answers to these questions, some of them contradictory. Nevertheless, it can be a kind of essence to win - rule, experience, pattern, in short: a guide on how to become the ideal leader . The most important tips we have compiled here in a detailed list - an ABC for managers and executives who want to do better than all the others, the employees groan so often ...

Boss or manager? The 9 essential differences
Before we begin with the experiences and recommendations on how to become a better boss, let's briefly make a distinction: boss and leader - the two terms are often used interchangeably. Can you also, wrong is not.

And yet, there are substantial differences between a manager who is simply boss (qua office and hierarchy) - and a real leader who deserves that name.

That may seem a bit subtle. Behind this is ultimately a fundamentally different self-image . And finally, another leadership culture . Or in other words:

Chefs are boss qua at the office and hierarchy. It is a static term, the description of a state.
Leaders, on the other hand, are defined by two qualities: the power to lead others . Mind you: "power" - not "power". And that is something very dynamic.
To clarify these essential differences between bosses and executives, we have summarized these - without many words - in a total of 9 striking graphics . Maybe you recognize yourself or your boss in it again ...

Three out of four bosses overestimate each otherThree out of four executives are convinced that they can set clear goals, provide constructive feedback and motivate their team. So at least the self-image . It's just stupid that their employees see things differently.

Every second man gives his boss a bad testimony and considers him to be less competent. Two-thirds of employees complain that they are not given clear tasks and goals. Nearly 50 percent complain in a vacuum without feedback. This is the result of a study by the management consultancy Information Factory (around 2,000 respondents).

A possible explanation for the crooked self-image of the executives: The proverbial loneliness at the top - they also receive little feedback and are poorly prepared for their management tasks.

Leader Be Tips Advisor eBookReason enough to think about how to become a good or even better boss . Not only the following manager ABC, but also our guide handout with a total of 70 practical tips for executives will help you - as usual - you can download it here as a PDF for free .



The manager ABC: So you become a better boss
There are now countless tips, rules, guides, role models , how to become a good leader. The shelves of management literature are full of it. You can read these many pages yourself - or leave us this effort.

In fact, we have gathered, distilled and condensed most of the management guides' key insights and recommendations into this management ABC. Just who first promoted was the first and managerial responsibility has conferred, should study this article. But even with experienced executives it certainly does not hurt to make one or the other point again ...

Here we go!


A as address
Spontaneous speeches are easily expected by managers - especially when it is simmering in the company. Then clarifying words such as balm on the wounded souls.

That's not so difficult: do not even try to enhance your speech with complicated technical terms and nouns, the opposite is true: Use short, crisp words, many verbs, and above all everyday terminology. If you want to spice up your speech, you'd rather add a pinch of voice images.

Also, please never speak of "man" (or "should"). Impersonal! Much more convincing and authentic are I, Du and We messages. This also applies to rhetorical questions . Not: How would one encounter a crisis? But: how would you counter the crisis?

But beware: humor is indeed part of a good impromptu speech . But too much of it and the speech drifts into the ridiculous. Alternative for bad joke teller : Describe a personal anecdote or tell a parable (see box).


The look for the essentials
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson went camping. After setting up their tent, they went to sleep early. At night, Holmes woke up and woke his assistant: "Watson," he said, "open your eyes and look up at the sky. What do you see? "Watson said, drowsily," I see stars, infinite stars. "-" And what does that tell you, Watson? "Holmes asked. Watson thought for a moment. "That tells me there are countless galaxies out there and thousands of planets out there. So I suppose that a lot of people are against the theory that we are alone in the universe. And what does that tell you, Holmes? "-" Watson, you're a fool, "cried Holmes. "Tell me someone stole our tent!"



B as examples
Do not lead by appeal or even command. More respect and commitment can be achieved through exemplary leadership.

This implies both your good role model (live out what you ask!) And passionately told stories, anecdotes and allegories .

In fact, studies in brain research show that we are particularly willing to absorb information when it involves multiple senses-not just hearing. A pictorial language, a vivid narrator, many impressive emotions - all this encourages us to remember for a long time what we have heard. An example can be found on the right.


C like coaching
For all personnel development - do not forget yourself! You too should evolve, for example with the help of an executive coach .

As many as 75 percent of HR professionals are convinced that the demand for individual coaching and mentoring will increase in the future. The demand for training concepts based on the leader-to-leader principle (manager coaching managers) will also increase (69 percent).

Meaningful coaching develops into an eye-level dialogue, in which the coach asks, questions, and listens carefully. He gives less own solutions, but lets them find his own coachee. In short, it's about finding out what the coachee really wants. Typical questions are: Where are you now? Where do you want to be in half a year? How do you want to get there?


D as delegate
Good managers not only trust their own strengths, but above all those of their employees. That's why they delegate more and that's why their teams work more motivated and creative.

Being able to delegate is an elementary leadership force. And a leadership style (see graphic):

Better boss Become a leader
But delegating does not mean just distributing tasks so people have something to do. Delegating involves transferring the associated responsibility . No employee will really do his very best when he does not have to shoulder the responsibility for the project at the same time. Best with certain design powers and freedom.


E like expectations
Set high standards. That sounds unusual. In fact, many executives set their expectations too low because they shy away from conflict, can not stand the groan, or expect nothing more from their workforce.

Ultimately, they always only get what you expect. Think of the so-called Rosenthal effect : Teachers were told they could take on a class made up of the brightest students, due to past achievements in the coming school year. At the end of the school year, these grades were actually better than all others, their grades, even the students' IQ , were over 20 points higher. However, the psychologists had lied. The classes were just a random selection. However, because students believed that they were among the best and that teachers could trust them more, the performance and learning curve increased.


F for feedback
What critics always make wrong when criticizing: they remain unclear. Criticism is not something you just done in passing. It is prepared and supported by arguments.

"I have the feeling ..." does not apply. Only facts count. And they are clearly on the table. Constructive criticism is always justified and comprehensible - not just complainers.

However, not a few executives forego the consequences afterwards. Error! Whoever blames wants something to improve. So ignorance and persistent mistakes must have consequences. Otherwise, you can also save the feedback . It does not have to be the termination that threatens you.

The worst mistake, however, is not to criticize or to pack everything in cotton (see: sandwich criticism ). Because it is unpleasant or because they fear upsets, bosses like to keep it going as they did before. Fatal! But employees do not have the chance to develop themselves, nor is it good for the company.


G like size
Enter errors. No one is perfect. Even bosses do not. Even so, it's (and not just since Elton John wrote a song to it) that one of the hardest phrases: "Sorry, you were right and I was wrong."

But this very virtue of standing by its mistakes gives leaders respect and recognition - not papal infallibility.

So fight your pride. No matter what you say - the others feel, if you really want to help or just want to produce yourself. Always wanting to know everything better can be an indication of insecurity and arrogance .


H like hiring (too fast)
As soon as there are any gaps in the team, they have to be filled - the sooner, the better. So the job is advertised, you get a couple of applications that will not blow you away, and you're tempted to simply fill the position with the next best candidate. Bad mistake!

This often creates more problems than waiting a little longer, increasing his efforts to really get the best candidate. The principle is of course the other way around too long to wait until you separate yourself from lazy eggs, because that is simply unpleasant or expensive. It is much more expensive to wait.


I like Involve
Whenever you plan something new, involve your employees at an early stage. Seriously. It also means that you listen to and value their ideas. Be sure to avoid the following phrases:

We have always done so! Means translated: the last is the brain. Lighter ones can not destroy creativity and initiative . Maybe the idea is not mature yet, but it is your job as a manager to encourage the employee to come up with a better idea.
You are paid for it! Might be. But that does not make you a master man yet. The salary is part of the agreement performance for money - no pain bonus. And certainly not it makes employees to underage serfs. Anyone who treats them like this should not be surprised by the provision of service .
I do not want to hear that! You whistle for criticism or feedback? Then the next crisis can come ... Seriously: criticism is an indication of a loyal and dedicated employee. Here someone is interested in getting better or warning about dangers. To shut oneself off, however, is an indication of stupidity.


J like Ja-Sager
It's an iron law of success: A people surround themselves with A people, B people with C people . In other words, real top managers can be recognized by their proximity to other top talents.

They value the exchange among themselves, they are not afraid of their own shortcomings and see in the other an enrichment, maybe even a balance of their own weaknesses.

Unlike the second-rate managers. Above all, they see their weaknesses and are constantly worried, a better one could reveal these or worse - overtake them. That's why the second-class likes to surround themselves with third-class and yes-Sagern. So your saddle stays safe. Provisionally.


K for clarity
Nothing drives employees to desperation faster than a cloudy task or inaccurate goals . Nothing annoys more than a boss who can formulate exactly what he just does not want at all, but unfortunately becomes very monosyllabic in trying to say what he wants instead. In this one case does not help the apology with the gut feeling , motto: I have a very stupid feeling there.

Might be. But that is not a substitute for real leadership. It's like in the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin: you only get what you want, if you can give the child a name.

Around misunderstandings and confusion, you should always formulate your expectations clearly and precisely with respect to the employees concerned. Although e-mails are sometimes a quick route, personal contact remains irreplaceable. Not least because it helps you to see if your concerns have been understood.


L like limits
First: Plan more time. Always!

Behind this insight is the so-called Hofstadter's Law , which says something about things usually take twice as long as expected (see also: Parkinson's Law ). After that, it's best to set intermediate stops instead of a big final stroke.

For many people, working at smaller intervals is easier than surveying a period of three or four weeks. Manageable and completed work units also motivate your team more and prevent procrastination .

But also identify important key factors: Each project has at least one Gordian node. At that the whole work fails or it runs on it's own by itself. Find out this key place (s) first and solve the problem as fast as possible. Then every deadline becomes a minor matter.


M like mentor
Find a few good employees and take on the role of mentor for them . But also suggest that more experienced executives follow this example. If you are taking a mentee under your wing, please note the following:

To be a role model. Wherever you can, have your employees look over your shoulder: in negotiations, in important meetings , in business correspondence or in project management . Comment on your behavior and explain why you have behaved in the situation one way or another and what experience is behind it.
Pass on experiences. People learn best and best from stories. Tell us, then, which problems you have already mastered, which dilemmas you solved as well, but also where from today's point of view you would have acted differently (how?). Give your experience as concrete as possible - but also accept that some people prefer to gain their own experience.
Give up responsibility. After having vividly demonstrated and explained your tools, it is time to delegate responsibility. After all, such lessons only become solid if you can apply them regularly. Take this step in small steps and increase the challenge only the individual learning curve of your mentee.
Give feedback. Comment on the performance of your mentee. Praise, if possible, more than you nag. And if you criticize, say straight away how that one should have done better. Or better: Ask him about it and let your protégé find the solution himself! Anyway: ask questions ! Ask for his goals - short term as well as long term. And ask him how he wants to get closer to him.
Stay on the carpet. This point seems a bit unusual, but it is an important problem especially for young climbers: they want too much at once and too fast. Even if you recognize a lot of talent, help your protégées by protecting them from overbearing ambition . That's hard, rarely thanked, but essential for their careers.
Recommend. Then, when the time comes, release the people. Even if you want to keep your best people happy, you have to realize that they also want to and have to develop further . If you see a good chance to do so, it is only decent if you promote and recommend your mentee accordingly. That too falls on you - and makes a true mentor.


N like Nassauer
Miese bosses not only do not stand behind their employees when they fail or are attacked. In case of success, they also claim the partnership. Even worse, they rob their employees about their ideas and issue them as their own.

Such parasitical behavior stifles every ambition, every commitment, every hint of creativity in the bud. The opposite is the case with a shoe: Praise for top performance , lift the corresponding employees onto the podium!

Praise is not only refreshment for the soul - it is a powerful tool to change the behavior of others: praise makes people to do justice to it; It warms the heart and opens the stubborn mind. It is far from convincing anyone to say that he should let this or that be, as the discrete influence through targeted recognition. How it works? So:

Show interest. Of all the points mentioned here, this is the simplest as well as the most effective, encouraging others - be they employees, colleagues, friends, partners - to show that you are really interested in what the other one does or wants to achieve. Ask questions. Praise. Admire. Nothing works stronger.
Appreciate. Literally: So not only pat on the back, but appreciate the value of the matter and confirm the importance of this post. People hate the feeling of being just a minor cog in the transmission - or (even worse) the spare tire. Conversely, if you attach a high value to your plans and projects - preferably in public - this will instantly boost your self-confidence , build up and spark new enthusiasm .
Ask for advice. It is the most subtle form of praise - and hardly anyone can resist this request to pass on their skills and knowledge because they ask for it. First, because you elevate him (He the Master - you the disciple); second, because he can perpetuate himself like that. Finally, you continue to put your profound knowledge into this. And in the end, it's just a very uplifting feeling to have left something good for the world.
Show gratitude. There are people who like to help. As soon as they see problems, they tackle or do the things that need to be done, unasked, as if it were self-evident. But it is not. And lack of gratitude can make these people bitter very quickly. Then they just feel exhausted. Sad and momentous - because not infrequently they are the good souls that enrich a farm or a family enormously.
Surprise you. Most of the people who are above average or excellently involved have a good sense of that. That's why you usually expect some reaction from their environment. The least is praise or recognition. Much greater, however, is the encouraging effect of going beyond such expectations. For example, if you give the person a day off because of his performance. Or give him and his partner a romantic weekend in a luxury hotel - after all, the two have barely seen each other in recent weeks because of the important project ... No matter, be creative, spontaneous and go beyond average in your appreciation .


Oh, like optimist
Keep a positive attitude . Even if you do not feel like it, you are always a role model for others. As long as you let go, black-eye or spread bad mood, you can expect nothing better from your colleagues.

Above all, we recommend the attitude of realistic optimism .


P like Pareto principle
Sometimes you get project results that have minor flaws. And because it has to be fast, many executives tend to fix the shortcomings themselves. No big deal. No way!

First, this can be an indication of personal conflict-shyness, second, so often begin negligence and Schlendrian, motto: I do not have to deliver a good job, the old man will do it already.

So be strategically lazy! Have your employees correct their mistakes themselves. This may take a little longer, but will provide greater learning effects - and more care in the future.

Surely you know the Pareto principle , according to which, in 20 percent of the time available, 80 percent of the work can often be done. The remaining 20 percent of the work, however, 80 percent of the time. This indirectly results in a self-management technique : Instead of fulfilling 100 percent of the tasks, it is wiser to prioritize them and to deal with the tasks that require only 20 percent of the time and energy, but 80 percent bring.


Q like lateral thinker
Everywhere, bosses are calling their workforce to more inspiration and innovation because it's the only chance to compete globally. Many can produce cheap, but only a few can do better.

Chancellor Angela Merkel therefore once developed the dictum of a "creative imperative" for Germany. That was a crazy idea though. There are no flashes of inspiration by decree. At most, they can be promoted. To spend the motto at work: Be creative! is as effective as calling a depressive: be happy again!

Since ideas are always accidents, breaking with traditions and demanding adaptation, you need a culture that respects different thinking and dissent and allows suggestions instead of censoring them immediately.

This implies that the better thought may sometimes come from another department or not from the boss, but from the so-called little man - but it is very close to the practical problem.

"The theme is not to increase creativity because either an employee is creative or he is not. All I have to do is stop creativity in the bureaucracy or fail in budgets, "said Hermut Kormann, co-founder of the Knowledge Factory, for example. So if you want to give your workforce a mental rejuvenation, it's a good idea to banish some of your work time from your desk and send them on trips, fairs, seminars, congresses or anywhere else to get them to think differently.

As with Google, where employees have been kicking, flipping, playing and even investing 20 percent of their regular working hours in their own projects - and have created as amusing things as the flight simulator for GoogleEarth.


R like talking
You can not over communicate as a manager! Basically, management is nothing more than communication - but with the employees.

However, many executives only talk about projects, columns of figures, goals, but not with their employees. Of course, facts are important, but if one senses that his team is growing dissatisfied, then no brainstorming , no bold vision and no jour fixe will help , then you have to address the problem and eliminate it from the world.


S like self-reflection
Success - as far as the general definition is concerned - means achieving one's personal goals. But you have to know them first. This requires knowing your strengths and weaknesses and aligning your goals accordingly.

Self-reflection also involves making decisions more consciously and learning more from mistakes (which means analyzing them so as not to commit them twice and leave them emotionally behind). Anyone who does that is usually more optimistic about his future, because he does not feel helpless.

Speaking of self-reflection: To complete the self-image, of course, the external image is also part of it - ideally by your own employees (similar to the 360-degree feedback ). We have created a small template for this - in the form of a chief or manager certificate, which you can also download here for free as a PDF and print out later to fill out. Of course, it takes courage to face such an (anonymous) assessment. But ultimately you can only get better ...

Chef certificate pattern template


T like talent management
It's hard enough to win top employees. However, you should not lose them so quickly.

Since in times of crisis, talents are particularly keen to change, but also needed especially needed, you should absolutely appreciate these. Visible! Surveys prove again and again: social recognition is the top motivator in the job. And who is one of the top performers , that usually knows as well.

So, show your appreciation and respect for their work and ability on a regular basis through feedback and / or bonuses. Create challenges as well. Nothing hate talent more than routine and boredom in the job . Such people want to develop and grow. So make sure you have some variety, new projects and a minimum of excessive demands (also called flow ). And offer coaching.

Although this point corresponds to the second, it is more about the personality development of the talents or learning new skills. Both are among the top people on top of the list of criteria for attractive employers.


U like uncertainty
There are always uncertainties, pros and cons. Managing means making risky decisions , even though variables are always left over.

Wanky-minded managers are always looking for new options, want to avoid mistakes and yet avoid only one thing: action.

So prove your decision-making power - and make it yourself!

Many consultants are called to justify unpleasant decisions. They deliver the show so the boss can say, "An independent study has shown that we have to cut costs and cut jobs. I did not want that, but now ... " It was clear from the outset.

Managers hiring a consultant too often and for every little thing have to ask themselves what their performance actually is ?! And above all, why they do not have the guts to stand straight for their decisions?


V like changes
If you want to succeed at change, then inform your employees as much as possible about what is going to change in the future, especially: for the people personally, for the teams, work processes, the organization as a whole. So you can adjust to it early on.

Explain why you think the change is necessary. Humans are creatures of habit, change is a threat to most. So, show why it is the exact opposite, and why the greater danger comes from the status quo . Last but not least, you should also show sympathy for tough cuts that may even lead to job losses for individuals.

The remaining colleagues should finally stay motivated and not get the feeling that they are just a cost center for you. However, your message must not only be convincing, it must also be consistent with existing agreements. Cultural revolutions often succeed in small steps - even if afterwards the big jerk is summoned.


W how appreciation (monetary)
Relative to absolute, salary levels have a big impact on the mood:

Relatively: Amazingly many employees have a sure sense of who earns more and who earns less - and above all, whether this is justified. Colleagues who are showered with bonuses while others do the work are motivational killers for the whole operation.
Absolutely: Salary is always an expression of esteem. Anyone who does more than average without this being reflected on the payslip , at some point pushes only service by regulation.


X like X-factor
Set your employees only goals that are achievable, otherwise you will generate frustration and demotivation. Doubling sales in boom times is ambitious , but not impossible. In times of crisis, however, even ten percent must be enough. Or even a black zero.


Y like Young Professionals
How to hire the best employees? Quite simple: offer challenges! If you want to hire young talents, so-called young professionals , you should above all convincingly present the chances of the job: "Help us to become the market leader!" And not just the requirements: "We are looking for an experienced marketing professional!"

So-called gold collars are not just looking for a job by working out job opportunities . They compare options.

For example, do not use your website as a boring advertising pillar, but to engage in dialogue with potential candidates. And do not leave the recruiting to the staff alone, but also include department heads and future colleagues in the selection process . They can usually better judge who fits in the team and who has the talents that you need.


Z like listening
Listen to. Knowledge is power, no question. But no one has leased the truth. There are no objective ones anyway. Wise and tactical, it is also wise to condemn other opinions.

Ask questions - and be sure to admit that you do not know the answer. After all, your enlightenment could be just a blatant. Here are three ways to become a better listener :

Looking Seriously: Practice keeping eye contact with your counterparts . Look the other in the eye (or now and then on the mouth). By focusing, you automatically focus more on its words.
Wait Stop completing each other's sentences when it takes a bit longer. And train not to respond immediately. Let the words sink. This helps to think and gives the other time to add something else.
Repeat In your own words, try to summarize what you have understood or what you believe, what your counterpart wanted to express. It is more charming to pack that into a question. Otherwise it works absolutely - and you may have been wrong.

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