Effective Leadership Skills: How to Be a Great manager

There is a fine line between being a good manager, who follows the rules by the book and being a great leader, who is able to inspire and lead by example. Employees tend to listen to leaders who are able to empower them, to motivate them and to understand the nuances that make them productive.

A Gallup survey uncovered that the difference between a good leader and a great leader is the ability to discover what is truly unique about each individual and understand what they bring to each role. A great example is the analogy of a chess player versus a checkers player. A checkers player still needs to plan and coordinate movements, however each piece moves at the same pace, on parallel paths. In chess, each piece moves in a different ways, and you can't play if you don't know how each piece moves.

The workforce is seen in a similar way by great leaders, because each employee brings different ‘moves’ to the organisation. Managing the workload of others can be the least efficient activity in the organisation, especially when you analysis the amount of hours a team leader, department head and vice president devote to supervising the work of others. However, constantly supervising each individual's output is ineffective and leads to micromanagement. Often managers are not to blame for the way they lead their teams, but rather from a top heavy management model that is both cumbersome and costly.

The challenge with management is that they add overhead costs to the organisation. This cost is further made worse by managers who lack the communication skills to clearly articulate to their subordinates what the mission, purpose and goals are of the business. Ineffective managers tend to halt discussions that might reveal their weaknesses -  no reason for professional development - , live by the status quo and ineffectively delegate tasks to stronger employees. Furthermore, If a company has an overly extensive management hierarchy, it increases the risk of large calamitous decisions. As decisions get bigger, the ranks of those able to challenge the decisions become smaller. When this occurs, the ability to mitigate business problems becomes smaller and smaller.

Lack communication skills

When managers cannot express clearly to their employees what their expectations are, it can hamper productivity. The workplace can be a challenging environment, particularly when the lines of communications are not running smoothly. It’s vital for communication to begin from upper management and filter through each employee so that people feel motivated and engaged. In a survey of 150 senior executives, nearly half said that better company-wide communication is the best remedy for low morale. 33 percent said that the lack of open, honest communication in the workplace had the most negative effect on workers in the workplace. The study concluded that companies can create more positive and productive working environments by ensuring that managers are available, willing to listen, and dedicated to their employees engagement.

The ability to effectively communicate means to actively listen too. As a leader, it’s important to always be attentive to what employees have to say, whether it concerns the processes or the projects of the business. In the workplace, employees tend to be the first ones who spot the flaws in the outcomes of tasks. Listening gives a leader the power and ability to encourage and motivate their employees. Moreover, a leader who listens stimulates each individual in reaching their maximum potential and to go the extra mile. When leaders pay close attention to their employees, the level of trust naturally rises as employees feel that they are cared for in the workplace. However, often leaders struggle to listen actively because they've become the ones accustomed to speaking. When leaders take a step back, and allow employees to openly express their concerns, it allows for a more collaborative and engaged workplace.


When manager’s watch every move their employees make, it leads to dis-empowerment, distrust and disengagement. Micromanagement is the process whereby the manager keeps tabs on every employee’s task, virtually replacing what the employee was intended to do. Paying attention to the details and making sure the work is getting done is important, but when employees feel overly managed  they become despondent drones. Leaders must learn how to give autonomy and accountability effectively in order to get the most out of their employees in the workplace.

Accountability doesn't necessarily mean delegating tasks and hoping the team member delivers, but rather about trusting the employee with a specific undertaking. Accountability leads to responsibility, which leads to several intrinsic motivators like purpose and accomplishment. When Employees feel they are accomplishing something, they feel valued and engaged in the workplace. A Forbes article, it outlined some of the benefits of creating accountability. Having employees that possess professional accountability leads them to feeling more committed to their work, more resilient to roadblocks, and encourages them to continuously learn and improve.

The key to accountability is to passively track work without micromanaging. Creating accountability is about creating a culture where people value responsibility and trust. When leaders are able to trust their employees, the effectiveness of an organisation can greatly increase. Studies on control and influence in autocratic, democratic and individually focused organisations, show that the most effective organisations have teams where everyone feels they have influence. When people have a voice, their investment in their work increases far more than when they’re being told what to do.

Cumbersome hierarchy

Hierarchy refers to the levels of management in any business. Having a hierarchy brings advantages, such as clearly defined leadership roles, authority and levels of responsibility. However, hierarchy comes with communication challenges, increased bureaucracy and manager effectiveness drastically reduces. The notion is that the more a lower employee is directed by his or her supervisor, the more productive his or her output will be. However, as studies show, this is simply not true. Hierarchical firms hamper innovation and organisations that have complicated hierarchical structures, struggle with the rate at which the industry changes. Today, with the rapid development of technology, one of the biggest challenges big companies face is turning their structure into a 21st century networked organisation, whereby the focus shifts from efficiencies to “innovate or die”. This new innovation era, has lead many companies to radically reorganize their structures to flatter, more efficient ones. For example, there are more than 200 case studies about of other companies moving over to the flatter hierarchy. Digital technologies make it easier to work in a distributed manner and there is sound reasoning for treating people with dignity, providing autonomy and organising people into small teams rather than larger hierarchies. According to PwC research, workplace culture and behaviour are key areas where CEOs are placing their greatest focus, with more than two thirds making changes in the area of talent strategy and retention. Having the right hierarchy that reflects the culture is important to developing a business geared toward innovation and growth


Effectiveness management is a tough nut to crack, as many businesses struggle with the idea of effectively organising their people so that they can be as productive as possible. In an era where the workplace is dominated by the new generation of ‘Millennials’, companies need to face facts that their business leaders need to change to become more effective. Managers need ongoing coaching to realise their people skills and to become better leaders in the workplace. By using tools, such as Impraise, managers can easily receive upward feedback from their employees to understand how they are doing in the workplace, and how they can improve to become better.

Furthermore, managers can easily pinpoint where their weaknesses are, and try to improve them over time. When employees feel empowered to give their opinions they become more engaged and productive. Businesses, who need to restructure their hierarchy can also use the same platform to determine who fits in the best roles in the company. What’s more, business can easily determine which department has the biggest strengths and learning opportunities.


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Photo Credit: Vladimir Kudinov