November 06, 2009

Business Wife in Effect/Polish Your Act

Does your management style need a face lift?
Top managers must be able to relate to and motivate many different personality types. And women – with our inherent empathy and communication skills – are taking the helm in redefining leadership. But if you haven't adapted your style since the era when the more masculine, top-down management systems reigned, it may be time to re-evaluate your effectiveness as a leader. Here are five signs it's time to take some drastic measures to update your management technique:

1. "Because I Said So"
Are you constantly telling people what to do and expecting them to follow orders without explanations, motivation or input? Are you surprised when they don't do what they are told – or don't do it with much enthusiasm? Today's employees are accustomed to working with collaborative leaders. Rather than saying, "Here is what we are going to do," try, "How can we do this?" Incorporate their suggestions into the plan and give credit where due.

2. Gotcha!
Are you a card-carrying member of MBWA (Management by Walking Around)? Is the perception that you are walking around to catch people doing something wrong? The next time you stroll through your office, have a purpose. Look for opportunities to interact with team members. Catch them doing something right and provide positive feedback.

3. Ms. Know-It-All
Experienced managers who have weathered all types of economic conditions understand what it is like to work with a slim staff or no staff when they had no choice. Today's business climate calls for leaders who ask the right questions. Resist the temptation to share all your knowledge, and try something new. Rather than providing your team with the answers, ask them the right questions and brainstorm ideas as a group – or at least ask for feedback to your idea. When problem-solving, there is always strength in numbers. And the team whose input is solicited and respected will go the extra mile to make the solution work.

4. Information Control
Are you hoarding information that should be accessible to members of your organization? Are you afraid if others have this information you will lose control? Knowledge is still power, but today's successful managers recognize the value of sharing information. The ability to rely on and coach individuals is highly valued in today's workplace. When promoting employees to senior management roles, companies seek candidates with strong mentoring skills.

5. Stretching Your Style
The older we get, the more set we become in our ways. A rigid style might have worked for you in the past, but today's workers value flexibility. No one expects you to be able to do a back bend. However, with a little bit of stretching, you should be able to add flexibility to your management style. It takes practice. The next time an employee approaches you with a valid situation, find a way to grant her request – or at least compromise. Little by little you can work on flexing your management style so that it feels comfortable for both you and your employees.
By Roberta Chinsky Matuson