With the world rapidly changing, the “one size fits all” method of leadership is no longer effective, considering the volatility and uncertainty every company faces. In addition, new challenges are constantly emerging, making the manager’s job more difficult.
To stay afloat and ahead of changes, good managers must be agile – possessing crucial people management skills that will not only inspire people but also improve their engagement at work. These skills include problem-solving, coaching, facilitation, and project and resource management skills that all leaders in any company would need.
In this blog post, we will discuss eight management skills that agile leaders need to develop with urgency. We’ll also offer advice on the potential pitfalls you should avoid when leading. These tips will help you focus on the most important people management skills so that you lead the organization towards better outcomes.
Why Agile Leaders Are Essential for Hybrid Organizations
For any business that wants to succeed as an agile organization, good leaders are essential. According to Mckinsey & Company, agile organizations are viewed as systems that have thrived the ever-changing, rapid environments. They are flexible and able to adjust effortlessly to new conditions while remaining stable.
As a leader in an agile organization today, your people management skills will determine how your team performs. You need to be able to do a range of things, like leading with a positive attitude when things go wrong, a strong ability to resolve conflicts, empathetic listening skills, etc. One thing is clear – your leadership skills will your team of motivated employees to achieve amazing results for the business.
From our work with international companies across nearly 40 countries, here are the top eight people management skills we believe you need to lead an agile organization.
1 Communication: Inspire a Shared Vision with Storytelling
Effective communication is a non-negotiable and perhaps the most important skill for a manager. Effective business and workplace communication not only strengthens employee relationships but ensures they have the information they need to perform well while simultaneously eliminating inefficiencies.
Leveraging David Rock’s SCARF model can help leaders identify their employees’ motivations. The SCARF model, as noted by Mindtools, allows you to be more strategic in lessening the wear from threats and maximizing rewards-based positivity.
If you want people to follow and trust you, then you must be able to communicate with them effectively. This also means using appropriate communication styles.
Skills like storytelling become more and more important these days as a result.
Some tips for you:
- Listen to concerns actively and respond with empathy
- Give immediate feedback on assigned tasks
- Explain the rationale behind changes
- Include leadership storytelling in your compulsory skillset
2 Coaching, Mentoring and Facilitation Skills
To be an effective leader in an agile organization, you must coach and develop others.
Gone are the days when all managers need to do is issue direction to people – a good manager takes an active role in growing employees’ potential by offering appropriate guidance. A Gallup study found that great managers raise employees’ motivation and engagement.
This includes the ability to develop teams’ careers. Bearing in mind the diverse needs of employees now with five generations in the workforce, facilitating career conversations is also one of the leadership skills you need to grow.
As you think about the initiatives to coach, mentor, and develop your team, don’t forget that you as a role model, is a powerful example for others. When people see that you’re actively improving your management skills, they’ll be more likely to do the same.
If you want to improve your coaching and mentoring skills, sign up for our
Coaching and Facilitation Skills for Managers course.
Some tips for you:
- Offer mentorship programs
- Cross-train employees in different areas
- Incorporate lifelong learning and ongoing training in your organization (conferences, workshops, and executive coaching)
- Showcase learning every year and make it a point to celebrate personal achievements
3 Leverage Team Strengths
A strengths-focused culture also cultivates a workplace where everyone can look forward to coming to work because they get to do what they do best every day.
A Gallup study has found that employees in a company with a strengths-based culture are six times more likely to be engaged in their work. In addition, employees who receive strengths-based feedback from their employers are three times more likely to be engaged than those who rarely receive it. The investment on a strengths-focused culture is a worthy one in our view.
Did you know that Strengths-focused leadership under CAPTAIN in our five-part Agile Leadership Framework?
Check it out here.
- Encourage team members to discover their strengths. CliftonStrengths is a great assessment to start.
- Match each team member’s strengths as you assign tasks and projects
- Inculcate an active approach to career development supported by strengths
4 Maximizing Outcomes Despite Limited Resources
In today’s business climate, it’s more important than ever to do more with less. This means that managers must have excellent resource management skills to enable their team to achieve stellar results even when resources are limited, Ten Six Consulting suggested.
In a LinkedIn post titled Management: The Art of Doing More with Limited Resources, management is what drives operations and makes use of available resources. To make the best use of our resources, managers need to find opportunities for optimization –small changes in the right places at the right times will put you ahead of your competition.
Maximize Outcomes with Strategic Thinking
Harvard Business Review suggested that strategic leaders are the focal point for organizational learning as you encounter countless complex and difficult decisions.
When making decisions, find vital issues affecting the decision-making process and its results. You must be able to analyze and pinpoint when something is not right so that you can resolve it right away.
Maximize Outcomes with Multipliers Thinking
According to Liz Wiseman, author of Multipliers, there are two types of leaders: diminishers and multipliers. While diminishers tend to de-motivate and drain the intelligence from those around them, multipliers energize and inspire others to bring out their best. As an agile leader, you want to be a multiplier leader.
Some tips for you:
- Challenge your team to step out of their comfort zones and discover new possibilities
- Create a psychologically-safe environment where it is safe to fail and learn from mistakes
- Turn mistakes into learning opportunities that feed forward into a better process
- Involve team members in decision-making and consider the bigger picture. This increases employee engagement and commitment
Talk to us about our Multipliers Group Coaching Program
A great manager knows what, and how to delegate as well as who can do the tasks best.
Even more essential skill – removing barriers and “cutting the fat” – prioritizing and deprioritizing appropriately to reduce time loss, effort wastage, exhaustion, and eventually, burnout.
Managers must pay attention to key tasks that will protect today and ensure a better tomorrow for all employees.
Some tips for you:
- Involve people in analyzing key facts, and conduct conversations about what to prioritize and de-prioritize regularly
- Break the task down into achievable goals to prevent overwhelm
- Match employee strengths and interests with the right task
6 Building Trust, Inclusivity, and Diversity
Effective managers understand that trust is the foundation of any good relationship. Understanding people’s motivations and expectations is a good way to start. Effective managers need a high level of self-awareness, as many of us have unconscious biases. Nurturing a strengths-first culture is a good place to start building an inclusive and diverse workplace.
You can start by discovering your CliftonStrengths and Values here.
As illustrated in a study by Marcus Buckingham it was recently found that what employees fear, is not change – but being kept in the dark, hence breaking trust. That’s why the most effective managers possess soft skills that nurture trust, open communication, and inclusive conversations. This is also consistent with David Rock’s SCARF model as mentioned above.
Some tips for you:
- Get to know your employee’s strengths and needs
- Lead with vulnerability and share how you overcome your struggles
- Provide support in challenging times
7 Human-Centered People Management Skills
A human-centered approach from senior management focuses on the individual needs of employees and how they can be best supported in the workplace. This approach is based on the belief that every person has value and should be treated with respect.
In a previous blog titled Why Organizations Need Human-Centered Leaders, And Three Tips To Get Started, I stated, “companies need to explore more effective ways to retain employees by creating a culture where leaders’ top priority is to meet the psychological desires of employees as humans.
Go beyond people-centeredness and embrace human-centeredness. Satisfying and addressing the human needs of their valuable employees is key for organizations that still want to be around after the next decade.
Some tips for you:
- Recognize employees as human beings with needs
- Lead with vulnerability and encourage others to share their emotions
- Get trained or coached to increase emotional bandwidth
8 Lower Team Members’ Fear of Failure
In an agile organization, it is important to have a learning culture where mistakes are not penalized but used as opportunities to learn and improve. Yet, according to a study by IE, VU, and Nyenrode, fear of failure holds back two in five workers where “some workers spend 40% of their working day worrying about making mistakes.”
Fear of failure is also one of the Signs of a Toxic Workplace which can also lead to poor performance among the members as it reduces resilience and could lead to burnout. When managers are afraid to fail, it impedes creativity and innovation – both of which are essential for a thriving business in the current climate.
In my work with leaders, they often don’t realize that the fear of failure is amplified easily when leaders show their displeasure at work done in the “wrong” way. Your day-to-day interaction with your team makes a huge difference.
Some tips for you:
- Turn your failures into lessons and encourage a culture of learning
- Create opportunities for employees to take risks by managing your negative reactions
- Provide support and resources when things go wrong, not blame others
Telling powerful stories about failure inspires healthier risk-taking and increases psychological safety.
Check out our leadership story course here.
Leadership Skills for Effective Managers in an Agile Organization
1. Technical Skills
Effective leaders of an agile organization often have a basic understanding of a broad range of technology to lead teams effectively.
2. Conceptual Skills
Effective leaders are effective thinkers. They think outside the box, analyze information critically, and enhance their findings creatively to make a greater impact.
3. Interpersonal/People Skills
One of the most important skills for a good manager is the ability to interact with people and influence others. Emotional intelligence, empathy, and cultural sensitivity broadly fall under interpersonal skills.
Over the years after partnering with leaders across five continents, I have found that people skills make the greatest difference to a leader’s effectiveness.
An agile organization is only possible when enabled by agile leaders. Leaders need both leadership and people management skills to do their job well. While the same skills would continue to evolve as employees’ need shift, there are many ways leaders can take proactive steps to increase their effectiveness. Identify trustworthy leadership training or executive coaching programs and make agile leadership your top agenda today.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Take advantage of Chuen Chuen’s extensive experience coaching leaders worldwide and her deep expertise in designing agile leadership corporate training solutions for your teams. No matter which stage of leadership you are at, we can partner with you and meet your business needs. Explore our executive coaching programs, corporate training courses, or hire Chuen Chuen as your speaker so that your organization will become agile and adaptive.