Mindset Is What Makes an Effective Manager; Not Apps
Tools and apps can help, but without the proper mindset, they fall short.
When I first became a manager, I found myself adopting tool after tool, app after app, methodologies and point systems, and still coming up short with managing my team. I would read a dozen articles that touted a dozen new methods of managing time or work that would improve planning and team morale and more. But, I felt none of them worked in making me an effective manager.
I spoke with other managers, and found they too made the rounds with apps and tools, but nothing seemed to crack the code of feeling effective with our teams.
It wasn’t until I worked with a coach on changing my mindset that I discovered how to be an effective manager for the team I had.
Google found that technical expertise ranked last among important characteristics for a manager to hold. … what employees most valued are even-keeled bosses who check in regularly for one-on-one meetings, who helped employees think more deeply by asking questions, not giving orders, and who demonstrated interest in their employees’ careers as well as their overall well-being. source
What Are the Traits of an Effective Manager?
An effective manager possesses a combination of mindset traits that enable them to lead, motivate, and support their team successfully. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to management, the following mindset characteristics are often associated with effective managers:
If I could pick four as the most important, it would be:
- Emotional intelligence: Managers with high emotional intelligence (EQ) can understand, recognize, and manage their own emotions as well as those of their team members. They are empathetic, can navigate interpersonal dynamics, and build strong relationships. This is what makes you an even-keeled manager.
- Integrity: An effective manager with integrity has a strong set of moral and ethical principles and behaviors that guide their actions, decisions, and interactions in a professional setting. This also builds trust within the team—and across the organization—as being a person that follows through with what they said they would do. And if they can’t, they have the skills to communicate that effectively.
- Growth Mindset: Effective managers believe in continuous improvement for their team, and are open to learning and adapting. They see challenges as opportunities for growth and view failures as valuable learning experiences.
- Communication skills: Strong communication skills are crucial for effective managers. It is the platform for the three skills above. They are clear, concise, and empathetic communicators, capable of conveying information, expectations, and feedback effectively.
More traits of an effective manager:
- Customer-centric mindset: Effective managers prioritize the needs and satisfaction of their customers, whether they are internal (cross-functional teams and stakeholders) or external (vendors, clients and customers). They understand the importance of active listening, delivering value, and meeting customer expectations.
- Results-oriented: Effective managers focus on achieving results and meeting objectives. They set clear goals, track progress, and hold themselves and their team accountable for outcomes. They also know how to check in and adjust along the way.
- Proactive problem-solving: Managers with a proactive mindset anticipate challenges and take initiative to address them before they become major issues. They are solution-oriented and encourage their team to brainstorm creative solutions.
- Empowerment mindset: Effective managers empower their team members by delegating responsibilities, embracing their abilities, and providing the autonomy to make decisions. They believe in the potential of their team and foster a sense of ownership.
- Collaborative orientation: Managers who prioritize collaboration encourage teamwork and value diverse perspectives. They see the benefits of collective intelligence and encourage open communication and cooperation.
- Adaptability: An effective manager is flexible and adaptable in the face of change. They are not resistant to new ideas or approaches but rather embrace change as a natural part of progress.
- Strategic thinking: Managers with a strategic mindset think long-term and have a clear vision of their team’s role within the organization. They make decisions that align with broader strategic goals.
- Ethical and values-driven: Effective managers operate with integrity, adhere to ethical principles, and lead by example. They ensure that their decisions and actions align with the organization’s values.
- Resilience: Managers often face adversity and setbacks. Those with a resilient mindset can bounce back from challenges, remain positive, and maintain their composure under pressure.
- Innovation and creativity: Managers who value innovation encourage creative thinking and embrace new ideas. They are not afraid to take calculated risks to drive innovation within their team.
- Time management: Effective managers are skilled at managing their time and priorities. They can balance multiple tasks and responsibilities efficiently.
- Accountability: Managers hold themselves and their team members accountable for their actions and results. They take responsibility for their decisions and address issues promptly.
- Cultural awareness: Managers with a global and cultural awareness mindset are sensitive to cultural differences and can build and lead diverse teams effectively.
How can you learn and improve upon these traits?
Coaching. While it is important to have mentors, take courses, read books, I feel coaches are a highly effective tool in developing the skills above.
If you haven’t used a personal, career, or executive coach before, you are in for an awakening, literally. They are your partner in assessing where you are at today, pointing out blind spots, working with you on where you want to go tomorrow, and crafting a plan on how to get there. But, it’s more than that. They fundamentally shift your mindset, help you find your authenticity, and bring out your strengths.
After working with a coach (or a number of coaches, as I did), you won’t just be an effective manager, but the skills you learn will improve every aspect of your life, from friendships to relationships, your self-worth, your confidence, and more. In general, this could take 3 months of weekly sessions to start to see improvements, 3 more months of bi-weekly sessions to really set it in motion, and monthly check-ins there after for any new developments or changes. Your milage may vary.
What About Technical Skills of a Manager?
“based on the results of Project Oxygen, Google found that technical expertise ranked last among important characteristics for a manager to hold”. (source)
Shocking, I know.
I did once work for a manager that knew “absolutely nothing” (his words) about what our team was in charge of. We were all shocked and dismayed. Here is this guy, probably making 3x what we were, who had no experience in what we were working on and he was our manager?!
This is where I started to learn the importance that to be an effective manager does not mean you have all the answers, or technical experience. It means you know how to get the answers. He was resourceful, an active listener, creative, and empathetic. He showed up for us in ways listed in the traits above, and that made him one of the most effective managers I’ve ever known.
In short, he was timely, forthright and brave. And that really stuck with me and the team.
It’s important to note that while these mindset traits are valuable, effective managers also need to develop corresponding skills and behaviors to translate their mindset into action. Additionally, the specific mindset traits that are most crucial may vary depending on the organizational context and the nature of the team being managed. Be prepared to try things out, self-assess as well as ask for feedback, and adjust accordingly.