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The Ultimate Guide to Leadership and Management Skills That Will Make You a Better Leader

team development
The Ultimate Guide to Leadership and Management Skills That Will Make You a Better Leader

While the words are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between being a leader and a manager. A leader inspires and motivates their people. They embrace creativity and vision. They appreciate imagination and abstract thinking for envisioning possibilities. Great leaders can see the forest through the trees.

A manager focuses on goals and the path to reaching them. It involves training and mentoring not only during onboarding but through the day-to-day tasks to meet deadlines and outcomes. Management’s objectives include improved productivity by streamlining workflows. They create order and consistency so that everyone is on the same page.

Leadership and management have the same vision but different roles in its implementation.


Leadership Skills: A Manager’s Most Important Skill

We’re not implying that one is better between managing and leading. Both have their purposes. Depending on the size of your organization, you may have to wear both hats or at least switch them to match varying situations. One of the most valuable leadership skills is letting your managers manage. A successful leader trusts their staff to do their jobs. That takes emotional intelligence.

A common mistake some leaders make is assuming responsibility for everything. They feel they must have their hands on all aspects of an organization. Insecurity is often behind this behavior. A person may feel like their job is in jeopardy if they’re not always on the job. A successful leader is self-aware. They know they can’t do everything. They know their limitations and delegate some tasks to others.

It’s not a sign of weakness. Instead, it shows you have confidence in your people. And they will notice, too. It’s an excellent way to motivate and engage them. It’s also empowering for you. You can focus on the bigger picture while letting others with the right skill sets manage the finer details.


When to Lead

Micromanaging isn’t in a leader’s vocabulary. Seasoned team members don’t need it or want it. Trust exists in the workplace. They’re engaged. A leader knows their people and their abilities well to optimize their performance. Their role is to encourage thinking out of the box when brainstorming for new approaches or solutions, not to look over their employees’ shoulders.

It’s possible because of a psychologically safe culture.

A leader brings the mission of an organization to the table with leader skills. They foster an in-it-together attitude. That involves both leadership and personal accountability. Leaders are the cheerleaders at product launches. They encourage an open discussion during team meetings. They also ensure their employees have what they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability.


When to Manage

Managers oversee workflows and projects. Their goals are meeting deadlines and ensuring everyone is on point with the rules and expectations. They are the bean counters, making sure quotas are met. While leaders are accountable to the entire organization, management has the responsibility to their teams and their outcomes. Thus, their measures of success are more tangible than leaders.

Management comes to the forefront when direction is needed for problem-solving or when unintended consequences get in the way. How to be a manager involves rallying the troops to navigate through uncertainty. The pandemic tested their skills as nothing else ever has. Risk and quality management are vital traits in these individuals, even when things don’t go as planned.


Conflict Resolution Techniques That Can Save Your Business

Conflict is inevitable. Leadership and management must have a strategy for minimizing the immediate effects and the aftermath because it affects both areas. These uncomfortable situations can hamper a leader’s ability to motivate and inspire their employees. A manager risks not meeting their deadlines or goals. Conflict can undermine the culture of collaboration that exists in an organization.

The best conflict resolution strategy is proactive and not reactive. It acknowledges the dispute and actively pursues a resolution. The sooner it’s resolved, the less likelihood of resentment and deterioration of employee morale and quiet quitting. This situation occurs when an individual only does what’s necessary to keep their job and disengages mentally and psychologically from their organization.

Quiet quitting doesn’t go unnoticed. It can create the perfect storm for eroding employee morale in others who haven’t mentally checked out of their jobs. The alert manager will recognize the signs before they can spread to others in the organization.


Defusing Conflicts Effectively

Solving conflict tactics strive to use leadership and management skills to identify the situation accurately with active listening. It’s an ideal opportunity for a leader to walk the talk and lead by example. Therefore, the focus must always be on the problem and not the employee or team. Both leaders and managers must monitor their vocal and non-vocal communication to remain neutral.

Of course, it’s essential for everyone to have their say. It’s also imperative not only to resolve the problem but determine what caused it in the first place. Common sources of conflict include unfair treatment, workload increases, and unrealistic expectations. However, many boil down to one thing—breakdowns in communication.

That’s the best place to start. Building teams with no arguments isn’t reality. What’s possible is effective conflict resolution through proactive leadership and management. Leaders will encourage the discussion, while managers will maintain order to find an equitable solution to the problem. It’s another opportunity to learn and grow from the experience.

Takeaway: Address conflicts timely to nip them in the bud by actively listening to all involved with the goal to resolve them swiftly and prevent recurrences by identifying the cause.


Motivation Tactics for Better Employee Engagement and Productivity Levels

The most valuable skills to be a leader include employee engagement strategies. The 2021 Gallup State of the Workplace Report revealed an unsettling statistic for American organizations. According to its findings, only one-third of United States employees are engaged versus 70 percent in the best global companies. This disparity can profoundly affect morale, public perception, and your bottom line.

The qualities of a leader who succeeds put goal-directed motivation tactics on the front burner. That involves several key strategies. It begins with clear and realistic expectations for all employees that align with an organization’s purpose and mission. Everyone must know and understand its North Star metric or the goal behind the vision. That gives the employees direction and meaning, the crux of motivation.

Once the goal is set, management skills come up to bat with meaningful feedback that recognizes and celebrates individual accomplishments. Of course, it’s tempered with problem-solving and realignment as necessary. Leadership and management should encourage their staff to share their thoughts and concerns. Doing so gives everyone skin in the game. Employees become stakeholders.

The effects are far-reaching and can boost your staff’s engagement. It can, in turn, decrease turnover and build trust. Engaged team members are more productive and can help lower your onboarding costs. It doesn’t take much to have a significant impact, either. A kind word of appreciation will go a long way toward boosting an individual’s morale.

Takeaway: The most effective way to motivate your people is with well-defined goals for creating a collective vision where everyone takes ownership of the organization’s success.


Team Building Strategies for Building Healthy And Connected Teams

Remember that building teams with no arguments isn’t a sign of success necessarily. It could mean your employees don’t feel empowered enough to voice their opinions. Moreover, the team’s health isn’t in the lack of conflict but in how it manages it. The foundation is rooted in the traits of a good leader. This individual understands teams aren’t built in a day. They take the efforts of a dedicated leader.

It takes time to learn an employee’s strengths and where they can put them to the best use. A successful leader will nurture the potential in their people by providing them with the tools and knowledge they need. A 2021 survey by Amdocs found that 90 percent of job applicants view upskilling and training as essential when considering a new position. A strong leader recognizes its mutual importance.

They will develop a team building exercise outline with individualized plans. After all, we all come to the table from different places. The wise leader understands this concept and tailors an employee’s training and mentoring accordingly, starting with the Team Health Score. This information gives leadership and management a baseline from which to create their outline.

The hybrid workplace has changed how employers and employees interact. You may need a new playbook when it comes to how to be an effective leader. Therefore, other desirable personality traits of a leader are flexibility and adaptability. This willingness on your part to embrace change will go a long way toward building healthy and connected teams.

Takeaway: Successful leaders provide their employees with the tools they want by understanding their needs and being open to taking risks to build connected teams.


Project Management Tips To Ensure Your Goals Are Met On Time And Budget

One of the most critical leadership skills is strategic planning. It provides the blueprint for making a vision come to fruition. Encouraging an open discussion with your employees can tap into their creativity and yield several project management steps examples. It’s worth noting that the workplace and the marketplace are evolving rapidly. The same strategy might not be the best choice in today’s world.

The best project management plan outline example starts with information-gathering. It brings aligning the project’s scope with your team members’ strengths and shortcomings. A realistic assessment of these factors provides the basis for obtainable timelines. It’s imperative to understand what a project demands with the resources, i.e., personnel, to complete it.

Successful project management relies on managing and leading your employees with crystal-clear expectations, timelines, and schedules. Everyone knows what they’re accountable for before work begins. There’s no room for assumptions. Once the project starts, regular and open communication is imperative to stay on course. That applies to both asynchronous and synchronous forms.

Psychological safety is a vital piece of project management. Success depends on putting out the inevitable small fires along the way before they can threaten its completion. Your employees must feel free to voice any concerns over potential red flags. That’s where leadership traits, like strategic thinking and flexibility, matter most. Engaged team members will look out for each other and the project.

It’s critical to view project management realistically. You can’t expect to know everything that may affect a timeline’s completion. Life happens. Miscommunication occurs. The best way to handle it is with a plan B or other contingency paths. If the unexpected arises, you have a backup to implement already without losing precious time or effort. You can stay on budget because you had the foresight to plan for changes.

You may find it helpful to discuss possible roadblocks in the planning stages to avoid being taken off guard. We suggest making it a routine part of your project management. As J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in “The Hobbit, “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations if you live near one.”

Takeaway: Effective project management begins with an understanding of the scope, available resources, and realistic goals with all team members on the same page.


Conclusion and Summary

Managing and leading require different skills using a shared vision as its compass. While leadership sets the expectation, it’s up to management to keep it on point to meet the deadlines. The two work hand-in-hand to guide and support employees while providing what they need mentally and psychologically.

Being a strong leader requires emotional intelligence and self-awareness. The latter is often the most challenging part of your journey. Kutsko Consulting can help you gain the knowledge you need to motivate and empower your staff with its leadership development course. Our team building exercise online will provide you with the tools you need to become a strong leader in your organization.

Contact Kutsko Consulting today to begin realizing your leadership potential.

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