Without great managers and leaders, it’s unlikely Mary Barra would have become the CEO of GM. Her rise to the top started with GM’s student co-op program, where she inspected the fenders and hoods of cars. Recognizing her talent and ability, GM paid for her education and gave her bigger responsibilities as she progressed in her career. Her managers believed in her and knew she had unique leadership traits that could help others excel. With leaders fostering her top talents, providing additional training, and promoting her to higher positions, she eventually became the CEO of GM—the first woman to do so for one of the Big Three car manufacturers.
Leading management in this way is how you turn a manager into a true leader.
Effectively leading your management team is the key to creating a successful business. After all, managers are the people on the ground who ensure the company’s vision becomes a reality. Without great managers who develop into leaders, your organization will struggle. According to the DDI Frontline Leader Project, a stunning 57 percent of workers say they’ve left a job due to their manager. Managers are also responsible for a 70 percent variance in employee engagement. On the flip side, Harvard Business Review reports that employees with managers who treat them with respect are 63 percent more satisfied with their jobs.
Leadership is a learned behavior. Great leaders produce an infinite number of other great leaders while terrible leaders have the same effect (except the result is toxic). Leading management requires intention, dedication, and expertise in multiple leadership styles and leadership qualities. Leaders with these traits help managers develop into strong business assets.
To learn how to do this, gain insight into:
- Leading a team of managers and developing them into strong leaders who drive results
- Building strong relationships at work
- Creating a team culture so your business can perform at its highest level
How to Guide a Team of Managers
1. Discuss Core Values, Vision, and Mission
“Real leaders are happy to zig while others zag. They understand that in an era of hyper-competition and non-stop disruption, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something special.”Bill taylor
A huge part of leading management is letting managers know how to think and act through the lens of values and vision. With this understanding, managers can communicate the business’s “why” as they assign KPIs and direct their team to achieve the company’s top goals. Think of this communication process as a trickle-down effect. It all starts with leaders, who pass it on to managers, who then share it with the employees.
While the difference between leadership and management often means implementing different tactics, the fact remains: If you build leaders at every level, everyone does their job with the values, mission, and vision in mind.
Nevertheless, make sure everyone is on the same page for achieving organizational goals. For example, is your company more committed to the environment or profitability? If one of your values concerns the environment, managers will know it is a priority to use more expensive but recyclable packaging. This message should resonate with every team and all managers and leaders. As teams know your values, the belief system of your organization becomes second nature.
How to communicate your core values and vision:
- Reinforce your values and vision during employee onboarding and training.
- Go over at least one value every month during a team meeting.
- Display your values, vision, and mission on the wall in your office.
- Send out occasional reminders of your values through emails and messaging platforms.
2. Model Leadership Skills and Behaviors
“The only real training for leadership is leadership.”Anthony jay
When leading in management, you need to go beyond simply outlining the basic functions of management. You also need to model the right leadership skills and behaviors. Demonstrate how you would do something, and then teach people how to do it.
Creating leaders means setting an example for others to see and follow. By teaching and equipping your managers to help even more people, you practice servant leadership. This creates an infinite cycle of great leadership within your organization.
For this to happen, leading management means being a mentor to a manager. Take time each week to sit down with your team and teach them the strategies you use to connect with team members and produce positive outcomes and results. For instance, during one-on-ones or team calls, go over leadership principles and highlight the times when managers display core values.
Other ways to model leadership skills and behaviors:
- Be at the forefront of introducing innovative new ideas.
- Take charge in meetings.
- Settle conflicts fairly and amicably.
- Keep a positive attitude at all times.
- Focus on people’s strengths.
3. Teach Managers How to Think Like Leaders
“Managers who do not understand people’s different thinking styles cannot understand how the people working for them will handle different situations.”Ray Dalio
It’s not enough for managers to imitate your actions. They also need to think like a leader. If you’re not teaching managers how to make the same decisions you would make, you are setting them up for failure in the future. Leading in management requires showing people how to think like a leader and make wise decisions without too much intervention.
Help your managers know the best practices for leadership in terms of planning, organizing, and inspiring people. Additionally, teach them how to make the right decisions that serve others and the business. For instance, talk to them about different decision-making styles and when to use them. Doing so will help them prepare for making important future decisions without your direct guidance.
The best ways to think like a leader:
- Hold yourself accountable in all situations.
- Plan ahead for multiple outcomes.
- Reflect daily on what you did right and wrong and figure out how you will improve.
- Don’t settle for narrow goals or dreams.
- Find ways to serve others.
4. Foster a Sense of Community and Collaboration
“Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.”Steve Jobs
Part of leadership is creating a sense of community and collaboration among your teams. This requires an understanding that teams are what get things done in a company.
Help your managers create a team culture where everyone collaborates and contributes ideas. Doing so means making communication easier. Since everything trickles down from top leadership, you need to show how it’s done. Demonstrate effective communication, and keep the lines open for people to talk to you.
As a leader, you’re building a culture by setting the foundation that managers can work off of. You’re also teaching effective conflict management styles that help your managers deal with conflict before it becomes toxic. As you’re building team culture in this way, it won’t matter if teams are part of sales, human resources, design, or any other division. They’ll learn to work together to reach the same goals.
How to create a community for your team:
- Provide opportunities for team members to get to know each other outside work.
- Celebrate individual wins in front of the team.
- Encourage open communication by using the same messaging platform.
- Include all team members in important decision-making.
- Push people to give helpful feedback.
5. Become a Better Leader for Your Managers
“Position is a poor substitute for influence.”John C. Maxwell
You shouldn’t only look at how your managers could improve. Leading management also means improving yourself. So think of ways to become a better leader, and work hard to achieve the goals you set.
The 5 Levels of Leadership, as outlined by John Maxwell, can help in this pursuit.
Just because you’re in a top position in the company doesn’t mean you can’t improve as a leader. Leadership requires constant work and dedication, so devote yourself to becoming a better leader every day. Move up the levels of leadership, and you’ll see your managers become better leaders as well. Eventually, you’ll reach Level 5, where your influence reaches everyone.
How to become a level 5 leader:
- Spend time every day helping other leaders develop their skills.
- Commit to your self-improvement, understanding it will take many years to become the best leader you can be.
- Identify what drives you to become better and help others.
- Track the changes you observe in your employees. Perform regular assessments in this area.
Developing an Infinite Cycle of Great Leaders
Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to make them better.Bill Bradley
The goal should be to develop a cycle of great leaders through your efforts. After all, leaders need to be influential—that’s what makes them leaders. You have the power to leave a lasting legacy and drive positive change when you devote yourself to becoming a great leader. An element of that is developing your managers to carry on that legacy.
Interested in learning more about leading others?
Read more about How to Be a Good Manager to discover how people can be great leaders while holding a management position or get the answers to the question, “What Does Leadership Mean?”