I hope you have enjoyed reading the last few blog entries, now I am afraid I have to mix everything up again!!

I think it’s instinctive to analyse yourself whilst reading the various personality styles and to assess yourself; which style is most similar to yours, your personality and character. That approach is probably the best you have found, the winning style most of the time. My guess is that while you probably felt akin to a particular style, you realised you were similar to a couple or more of them, and you didn’t fall neatly into any one of the boxes.

No ‘right’ path to management

I am not really a fan of putting people in boxes, and with management much like anything else, I don’t think it works. There is no ultimate management route out there, no ‘right’ way that works above others. The best leaders use all styles, in the right combination and at the right times, to achieve the results that they need. While it is true that certain traits come through more in one person or another, it is very rare for effective managers to use one style exclusively. It’s all about balance, between you and your team, the workload, the hours and the energy you put into it. If one party feels they are pulling all the weight it ultimately doesn’t work. You could look to those last techniques to try and help you address that, as there is good in all of them. It could be that more direct techniques might help, or on the opposite hand, giving your team more flexibility might help your team to feel good, and help you to redress the balance.

Why balance is important

Just because you are the manager and have the final responsibility it doesn’t mean you need to be working late every night, and just because your team members are doing well this isn’t the cue for you to disappear. At a fundamental level we are all just the same, with personal drivers and emotions, regardless of title or hierarchy. If one of us feels the balance is out it affects everything and everyone else. Imbalanced teams don’t work effectively although sometimes it isn’t clear why, because on the face of it everyone is pretty good. This is the reason that many organisations with heavy hierarchies lack fresh talent and innovation. Also, some organisations that lack clear reporting lines and decision-making powers don’t get anywhere fast. Finally, and I know someone will kill me for writing this, but I think it is important to have gender balance, if possible, in organisations. I just believe that on every level, organisations work better this way. Too much of one or the other invariably leads to problems, and I think we all know what that imbalance can feel like.

Reflect on the following : directing / telling , leading / following , mentor / friend , do-er / activator. I deliberately placed the words side by side, I think the human brain has a way of automatically zoning in on one, but the right response is good use of all of the above. I personally err more on the side of directing than telling, but I know you need both at times, especially when you have deadlines and need to get things done.

Be up for the challenge

There is no secret to good management, it is challenging, and there are always new things you discover. I find that often much of the learning isn’t about others but actually about what they tell you about yourself, and sometimes they are the hardest things to follow.

I believe it is a little more straightforward when managing a team with more transactional-based work, but the minute that complex business issues and client relationships get involved, it becomes more difficult. In order to manage well, it isn’t just about good ‘management’ skills but also human or people skills. I deliberately use the word ‘human’ because I think it is much closer to what I mean than ‘interpersonal’ skills. That word gets banded around a lot, and to me it has lost a little meaning… There are no short-cuts. It is the same qualities that people look for in other people; honesty, hope, trust, and compassion, that create the kind of leaders that people want to follow.

Management is just another term for dealing with people, which requires you to understand your staff on a personal level, not as your employees, but as people that they are. Only then can you motivate, mentor and develop them into becoming the best that they can be, and that is the only sure route to building a strong organisation.

Please see the next blog in this series.

Posted by Rana Hein-Hartmann

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