For a very long time, we have been taught both in schools and in our organizations that managers should manage work and leaders should lead people. It somehow made us believe that managers and leaders are always two separate people.
But in our nowadays world where creativity, innovation, and empowerment are as important as making sure that employees show up, work and achieve their results, management and leadership can no longer be separated.
It is no news that becoming a leader does not happen overnight as it requires a good combination of perseverance, great knowledge on leadership, emotional and physical intelligence, as well as a lot of practice. But if you want your business to run well, your employees to be satisfied with their work and be more productive, improving your leadership skills is a must.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or in a middle management position, almost every responsibility of yours includes a management element to it. So how can you become an effective leader for your company?
We came up with a list of 5 inspirational TED Talks that will give you essential tips on how to ameliorate your leadership skills as a manager.
#1. Nail your communication skills – be honest and transparent
Many managers do not communicate often thinking that the tasks they give are very easy to handle. However, they forget that people think and perceive things differently. Something that might be 100% clear to managers can cause confusion or misunderstanding among their team members. So in order to ensure that everybody understands their tasks, it is indispensable for managers to be transparent about their expectations.
Good leaders know that to get the most out of their teams they should communicate their goals and expectations very transparently. It is essential for every team member to know what they are responsible for and what their expected outcome is. Clear roles and expectations also help employees to stay engaged and have something to look forward to.
In her ’10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation’ TED Talk, Celeste Headlee shares 4 important ingredients to a great conversation: honesty, clarity, brevity and a healthy amount of listening. According to Headlee, choosing clear and concise words and using open-ended questions can drastically improve your communication skills as a manager.
#2. Be open not only to give but also to receive feedback
Feedback is one of the most powerful management tools. Surprisingly or not, it is also one of the most underused ones.
Research shows that feedback can be very motivating and energizing for employees. It has also strong links to employee satisfaction and productivity. So good managers should provide feedback not only during annual performance evaluations but also on a daily basis.
As much as feedback is viewed as a tool to improve employees’ work, it is, in fact, a two-way street that can also serve to gain insights into what employees’ think of company’s policies. Great leaders know that listening to employees and receiving their feedback is as important for company productivity as giving feedback.
In her ‘Why we need to treat employees as thoughtfully as our customers’ TED Talk, Diana Dosik mentions numerous reasons why companies can no longer afford the ignorance about what their employees do and why. She suggests that by paying attention to what employees think, effective leaders can learn to align the company’s interests with those of employees. Only in this case companies can create immense value both for themselves and their employees.
#3. Show appreciation to your employees
All employees want to be recognized for their achievements. However, very few managers understand the importance of this.
It is essential to keep in mind that employees spend most of their time on making the business succeed. It often includes long negotiations, painful insomnia during a couple of days, enormous stress and anxiety, countless hours in front of computer screens and much more.
But effective leaders know that giving recognition by showing employees that their efforts are noticed and appreciated can increase their job satisfaction and work engagement. Acknowledging employees can be done through thank-you emails, a shout-out appreciation in front of other employees (highly recommended!!!) or treating to a lunch or dinner (it is important to stay consistent in the rewards to avoid favoritism).
In his ‘The power of appreciation’ TED Talk, Mike Robbins highlights the importance of not only recognizing the achievements but also showing appreciation to people on a daily basis. Even if your employee did not achieve the objective, show some appreciation for all the efforts he put into his work by saying, “Tom, it is amazing to have you as part of our team.”
When employees are appreciated, they usually feel happier at work and want to invest in their company’s vision.
#4. Build on your team’s strengths
A lot of managers target the weaknesses of their employees when they wish to improve their work. However, effective leaders know that by concentrating on their employees’ strengths instead of targeting their weaknesses they can achieve the desired results much quicker.
Studies have shown that when employees know their strengths and are able to utilize them in their work, they are on average 74% more engaged and 31% more productive. So it is important for managers to delegate tasks according to personal skills and character traits of each employee. When they do what they are good at, employees have more motivation to excel in their work and achieve better results.
When managers build their teams based on strengths, group and team relationships become stronger and teams perform better. Research has proven that the mere fact of knowing each other’s strengths makes the team 12% more effective.
Eva Katharina Herber in her ‘Focusing on Strengths’ TED Talk gives an example of a leading Spanish company that went through the Spanish crisis solely by concentrating on what company was good at thanks to their employees – intelligence, innovation, customer service. She also suggests that strengths can be used to compensate for weaknesses and limit their negative impact.
Looking back at all the positive consequences of effective leadership, one thing becomes clear —all managers must be leaders if they want their organizations to succeed and their people to be happy. Hopefully, the tips and inspirational talks will help you adjust your personal management style and become a more effective manager and leader.
So what are you waiting for?
About the author: Anatoli Chernyaev is a content marketing manager born in Armenia and currently residing in France. He writes about various topics such as self-awareness, positive thinking, personal development, and career advice.