Managers on the front line have more impact on employee morale, satisfaction, engagement and productivity than any other factor in the workplace, says Sal Silvester, organizational development consultant and author of Ignite! The 4 Essential Rules for Emerging Leaders. That’s why it’s essential for companies to encourage front-line managers to continually improve theircapabilities.
Managing People at Work interviewed Silvester:
MPAW: The first of your four essential rules is “lead by example.” What happens when managers hesitate to do this?
Silvester: Often, rookie managers are reluctant for one of two reasons: They are overly concerned about being accepted or they fear losing control. As a result, they’re often vague about expectations and avoid difficult conversations, or they micromanage, communicate aggressively and withhold information. To effectively lead by example, a leader must balance courage and humility. And they shouldn’t forget that people typically leave jobs because of their manager, not because of the organization.
The primary mistake I see many leaders make is falling into the “Popeye Syndrome” (I am what I am). Their attitude is: If you don’t like the way I do things, who cares? These managers conduct meetings but don’t involve team members in the process. They have no patience for ideas that don’t mesh with their own. The result is a loss of creativity and innovation in the workplace.
MPAW: How can a manager go about correcting this syndrome?
Silvester: Before thinking about what’s needed to lead others, ask yourself this one question: Would you work for you? Reflecting on your answer can be very insightful. In all things, go first. Don’t ask the team to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. If you ask team members to put in extra hours on a Saturday, you should be the first one in the office that morning. Also, clarify your personal values and then act in alignment with those values.
MPAW: Can managers get training in this area?
Silvester: Leadership development doesn’t come solely from an online course or off-site event. It’s a process of self-development and improvement that really never stops. Recognizing this, the best leaders make it part of what they do every day, both personally and professionally.