manager leader self aware

Are you a self-aware manager leader?

What is a self-aware manager leader

Ideas about being a manager and leader have changed so much over the past few years that many of today’s most effective leaders may find it hard to even get a foot in the door of the smallest company should they slip through a time-hole.

Not so long ago ‘management style’ was characterised by blunt assertions of authority. It was believed that one size fits all. Today we recognise a multiplicity of leadership styles for different situations.

Symptomatic of this change in perception and practice has been the switch from the term ‘management style’ to a focus on ideas about ‘leadership styles’ (note the deliberate plural).

Here are some ways you can start understanding your own leadership styles and kick-start your journey to self-awareness.

Can you manage yourself?

The successful manager and leader is critically reflective about their performance – and this includes reviewing their own use of different leadership styles.

It is crucial that you are able to understand what you actually do, rather than what you intend to do.

  • What leadership style do you instinctively reach for – and is it always the most effective one?
  • Which styles do you struggle to adopt?
  • Have you seen other managers operating in a way you wish you could pull off?

You need to manage yourself by always considering the styles you may need to adopt, as opposed to the styles you feel most comfortable with.

Do you know yourself?

Without knowing exactly how we work we can’t do much to change it: try to think about the way you work.

  • How do you manage your time?
  • Do you struggle to delegate?
  • How do you set your own work priorities?
  • How do you set the priorities for your team?
  • How organised are you?
  • Are you more comfortable in team or one-to-one meetings?
  • Do you prefer the formal space of a meeting room or the informal chat over a desk?

Can you see yourself as others see you?

There is a skill in seeing ourselves not from the inside but from the outside, but it is a very hard skill to master.

Forget what you are trying to do and achieve for a second and, instead, consider how your colleagues and team members interact with you.

  • How do they react when you ask them to complete a task?
  • What responses do your comments on their performance elicit?
  • When do things you do or say go well – and when do they kick up more dust than they clear a path?

Far too often how we see ourselves is radically at odds with how others see us. Seek out some trusted confidants and ask them their opinion of your leadership style. Try and canvass honest opinion from superiors, peers and subordinates so that you receive a rounded view.

Do you work within, rather than against, your organisational culture?

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and going against the grain just gives you splinters.

Your leadership styles are not expressed in a vacuum but in a definite organisational culture that you must take account of if you are to swim rather than sink.

Mintzberg, one of the most prominent contemporary theorists of effective leadership, comments that “style matters and context matters, but mostly they matter together”.

You must work proactively within your organisational structure if you are to be effective.

Consider the following:

  • What kind of management structure is in place?
  • How are objectives set and how is performance managed across the organisation?
  • What are the accepted behavioural and cultural norms?
  • Is it a high-pressure environment or are things more informal?
  • How well does your approach fit with this?
  • What motivates your team?
  • What are their expectations?
  • Do they work autonomously or need a higher level of guidance and support?

Are you prepared to keep growing?

No manager is born, but every manager develops.

It is crucial that, as you help others realise their potential, you also help yourself to do the same.

Reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses and identify areas where you need to develop your own skills or adapt your approach.

  • What is it that you need to achieve this?
  • Is support available internally or do you require an external mentor?
  • Is it insight or training that you most need?

Do you understand what is counterproductive?

Sometimes it is easier to think about what we shouldn’t be doing than it is to consider what we should be.

Here are the things to avoid as you develop your leadership styles:

  • Ignoring the opinions of superiors, peers and subordinates
  • Blindly imitating what others do or trying to fit a mould
  • Riding roughshod over the company culture
  • Sticking rigidly to just one leadership style
  • Adopting roles which go completely against your natural instinct

So, are you ready to be a self-aware manager and leader in your organisation?

To progress as a leader the CMI Level 5 course offers you an insight into management and leadership styles.

Take your career to the next level and apply for your course today.

Find your Sussex Business School course


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