Who are the managers you have had in the past that have inspired your management style?
The interesting thing about this question is that inspiration can come from many unexpected places.
- Have you ever had a great manager that you looked up to?
- As a child did you have a sports coach that you looked up to?
- Did you volunteer your time to a charitable, religious, or civic organization and are spellbound by the leadership’s ability to lead and inspire others?
- In many ways managing people is like raising children. That said, can you draw management inspiration from your mother and/or father?
- Did you have a high school teacher or college professor who changed your life? If you think it’s easy to properly manage a classroom, you should try it. Like most things in life, it’s much harder than it appears.
- Is there a person in your life, such as a relative or friend, who you admire and try to emulate?
Management inspiration can also come from negative experiences. Have you ever had a manager who was indecisive, unorganized, professionally incompetent, uninterested, or just plain mean? The reason it’s very appropriate to learn from your worst managers is because it teaches you what not to do. Working for a really poor manager teaches you what it feels like to report to this type of person. Chances are you don’t want your team to look at you the way you look at and think about your less than desirable managers.
The reason that it is important for you to consciously ask yourself who inspires your management style is so your style will not grow and evolve in a haphazard manner. If it does, at best, your style will mature more slowly, thus slowing your professional success. At worst, you may develop bad habits that hurt you professionally and put your career plans in jeopardy.
All that said, sit back, and ponder the question of who has inspired your management style. Then, thoughtfully make the decision to keep the things you like and phase out the things you don’t.
The next question to ask yourself is “who has not yet inspired my management style and should?” It’s this question that will allow you to proactively define your management style moving forward. There are a number of places you can seek out this new inspiration.
- Books written by leadership and management thought leaders and/or successful executives
- People within your social circles that you have always respected but as-of-yet have not formed a personal relationship
- Executives within your prior employers that you have always respected and you believe would welcome your phone call to establish an informal occasional mentoring relationship
- Advice from a member of SCORE (Senior Core Of Retired Executives)
- Family members that hold senior management positions or that you just respect and believe them to have good management skills
Lastly, if you are not yet a manager and would like to, in time, move into a management role, a great way to begin establishing a management style is to consider the following:
- Watch how the managers within your company act, make decisions, lead their groups and interact with each other.
- Attend a management class at a local college, offered internally at your company (if you can get your manager’s approval), from a management training company, or online.
- Volunteer to take the lead in an internal multi-department project. Even if it’s simply planning the company’s annual holiday party, it will give you practice managing others (those on your committee) and illustrate to your manager and others that you have the ability to lead a team.
- Volunteer to run a committee at your favorite civic, religious, or non-profit organization. Not only will you be doing something good for the world, but you will also have the opportunity to hone your management skills and begin developing your management style in a low risk environment.
Until next time, lead well, always communicate, and think business first and technology second.