GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: by Devora Zack, author, "Managing for People Who Hate Managing: Be a Success By Being Yourself."
You’re a manager.
Congratulations! You have been bestowed with the marvelous opportunity to manage others while simultaneously managing yourself. Feel free to replace ‘marvelous with any plum word choice of your own. Overwhelming, frustrating, irksome, impossible, or exhausting? Work life spiraling out of control?
Allow me to remove that burden from your shoulders. Let’s resolve this together.
Begin by taking solace that you not alone.
The vast majority of managers struggle with managing others while managing themselves. In a survey of 150 leaders, 68% of managers confessed they don’t like being managers (Berrett-Koehler 2011).
Most people don’t discuss managerial-related angst to avoid the perception of being weak, ineffective, or incompetent. The result is sense of being alone and incapable.
Next hot ticket item.
Most managers did not sign up to be managers. You pursued a career of interest, thrived, and – boom! Got rewarded with a promotion to management. Becoming a manager adds a facet to your job that, more likely than not, you were never trained to do. To keep things interesting, managing requires that you become responsible for others. You cannot directly control other people, yet you are now mysteriously accountable for their output.
Burn out intensifies from attempting to assume a style of management out of sync with your temperament. Unfortunately, many leaders have been brainwashed by a well meaning, misguided herd of consultants to follow a singular set of ‘rules’ about how to manage. Futilely attempting to squish yourself into a template that wasn’t designed for you leaves you wiped out; convinced that you just aren’t cut out for management.
Yet you have all the raw materials needed to be a managerial superstar. I know this for a fact; from all the time we’ve spent together, bonding.
You do, though. Managing yourself means working with, rather than fighting against your natural style. The only way to be a successful manager is by and capitalizing on your strengths. Design a management style that enlivens you, and consequently, those around you. Being authentic increases your effectiveness, energy level, and credibility.
Next, hone the skill I call flexing your style.
That means meeting others where they’re at. Just to stave off boredom, each person you manage comes equipped with his or her own specific personality. Such fun! And go ahead and assume none of them are capable of meeting you where you’re at; few people are that gifted. In fact, feel free to expand that assumption to your peers and supervisors as well. Although we’ll save that Pandora’s box for another time.
Meanwhile, drop any expectation that others will change their basic personality to suit your whims. They won’t. They may aquire skills, expand their reach, deepen their commitment, and increase their productivity – all with your expert guidance. However, fundamental personality nuances are more or less here for the long haul.
This is where flexing your style kicks in. Armed with a solid handle on who you are, you can now be on high alert for the subtle, constant bombardment of cues and clues others send out about how they like to be treated, what motivates them, the type of language that resonates, and the way they process the world. These vary from person to person, so get busy!
Once you get a sense of others’ personalities – from a conglomeration of their professional style, favorite (and least favorite) projects, habits, behavior, and language – you can fine-tune how you motivate and communicate with each employee. Everyone remains accountable for work products, although how you contribute to their professional development varies.
No One Size Fits All
There is no single correct way to do things.
Be authentic to you. Reframe previously perceived leadership liabilities into your best assets. Accept your natural strengths, rather than attempting to squish your beautiful self into a mold never intended for you in the first place.
With reduced effort, you will be able to manage employees more efficiently with greater success. You’ll strength rapport while increasing your team’s output.
The singular way to be a stellar leader is by being yourself.
Devora Zack is the author of, "Managing for People Who Hate Managing: Be a Success By Being Yourself." She is also the CEO of Only Connect Consulting, Inc. a leadership development firm with over 100 clients, including the Smithsonian, Australian Institute of Management, Cornell University, John Deere , US Department of Education, and Mensa.