A manager is one of the most important aspects of any workplace.
A manager keeps the place running. A manager cultivates the working environment. A manager can make all the difference between an employee who performs to the best of his or her ability and one who merely shows up.
So, what does it take to be a good manager?
In the Forbes article “The Five Most Important Skills for Managers to Develop in 2019,” Sally Percy shares the perspective of five academics, who each give one skill managers should focus on this year.
Karlien Vanderheyden, a professor in people management and leadership at Vlerick Business School in Belgium, says it’s important for managers to develop a strong level of curiosity with the acceleration of digital technologies in the workplace.
Vanderheyden thinks managers should be more open to new experiences while being more aware of what technologies could work best for their business and be willing to implement them.
“Being curious allows managers to better listen to their colleagues and workers, and to take on board new ideas that could benefit their organization,” said Vanderheyden. “It enables managers to consider new solutions to any obstacles that they might encounter, allowing them to react quicker and more effectively.”
Thierry Picq, a professor of management and director of early makers development at Emlyon Business School in France, said tomorrow’s most critical competence is knowing how to learn.
Picq said managers who know their learning styles are able to take on new information and knowledge at a deeper, faster rate, allowing managers to keep up with the increasing pace of today’s business world. This also allows managers to act and react as quickly and successfully as possible.
Nadia-Yin Yu, an assistant professor of people and organization at NEOMA Business School in France, said managers need to recognize two-way communication between themselves and their employees as a more effective approach than the traditional top-down management style.
Yu said that good leaders empower employees by listening to their voices, which leads to them managing their businesses more effectively. However, she said, empowerment must be appropriately limited, as employees vision of objectives can be incomplete.
Willingness to Empower
Konstantin Korotov, a professor of organizational behavior at business school ESMT Berlin in Germany, thinks good managers empower their employees to take on more responsibilities themselves rather than checking in with them for everything.
“Korotov points out that true empowerment relies on employees feeling comfortable about making their own decisions based on the information they get and their connectivity to the rest of the organization,” Percy writes. “They would also need to be willing to accept their own responsibility for the decisions made. For some people, that may be a significant developmental task.”
Chia-Jung Tsay, an associate professor of organizational behavior at UCL School of Management in the U.K., believes managers can cultivate dynamic business environments by having a practical perspective, which means: realistically assessing the available options, systematically considering the characteristics of those options, and making efforts to understand the perspective and interests of other stakeholders.
By taking a more deliberate approach, Tsay said managers avoid making the less informed decisions that often happen under pressure, and they create opportunities to find synergies based on shared interests.