Seven Habits of Highly Effective Managers

 | November 29,2013 04:18 pm IST

Exceptional managers have that "special something" that sets them apart from the crowd. It's not as mysterious as it sounds.

Most of the time, that "special something" is the sheer determination to maintain positive habits of success. Do you want to join the ranks of highly effective managers? You can start with these seven proven career-boosters.


1. Increase Your Self-Discipline


If you are like most people, you find it easy to do bang-up job when you are in high spirits. The real test comes when you are not feeling motivated or particularly energetic. Are these good enough reasons to snap at customers or behave like a nasty martyr at work? No!


As manager, like it or not, you are a role model. You set the standard when it comes to personal behavior, so make sure that standard is high. A moment of impulsiveness can tear down years of hard work when it comes to your career and reputation. According to Daniel Goleman, author of Working With Emotional Intelligence (Bantam Doubleday Dell, 2000), self-control reveals itself in the absence of emotional fireworks. The signs of self-control include "being unfazed under stress or handling a hostile person without lashing out in return."


2. Show Consistent Kindness


Good managers don't throw their weight around or rely on intimidation to get results. Do you? Any job - especially management positions - involves the support and assistance of others. You can't perform effectively as a one-man band. Thus, it is foolish to burn bridges and alienate co-workers.


And, whether you need them or not, treating others poorly will affect your self-esteem. Can you feel good about yourself if you are upsetting or neglecting others? If you don't feel good about yourself, how effective can you be?

One impressive manager, Rita, was aware of the power of this habit. Rita always made it a point to say "good morning" to the clerical staff. Her department was large, but this did not deter her from interacting with everyone. She would arrive at the office early every morning to chat with the file clerks and receptionist. Talk about a feeling of respect! Rita knew that many of these "lower level" employees were the first (and sometimes only) ones with whom a potential customer would interact. The more encouragement and esteem they felt, the more pride they would take in their day-to-day duties. Many of these employees called Rita "the best manager we ever had."


3. Stretch Goals


What if the following words came out of an airplane loudspeaker: "Folks, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is we have lost our direction finder and one engine. The good news is we have a tail wind, so wherever we're going we will get there at a rate of 600 miles an hour." The bad news certainly outweighs the good, right? So it is with your career. Without goals that are clear in your - goals to which you are firmly committed - your career flight plan is tragically flawed. Working at a frenzied pace does not amount to much if you don't have a clear vision of the end result you are striving to achieve.


High-impact managers must take goal-setting seriously. Your staff expects it, and studies show that the majority of managers fall short in this area. A recent survey polled 7,800 workers, and more than half of them (58 percent) believe that management does a poor job setting goals. How can you avoid this? Write your personal goals and work area goals down. Place them in a visible area so that you--and others--can be reminded of them daily. Writing goals down greatly elevates the likelihood they will be met, but only 5 percent of employees have actually developed this habit.


4. Welcome Criticism


Criticism may sting, but you must embrace feedback and not avoid it. After all, how else will you know what to improve upon? Don't fool yourself into thinking other opinions don't matter. In the business world, your credibility and reputation play a key role in how far - and how quickly - you move ahead. Soliciting input from others always leaves you with a clearer view of your blind spots. Becoming defensive and hostile when faced with constructive criticism will insulate you from the truth and greatly limit your potential.

Have you asked your employees what you could be doing better? You might be surprised at how revealing their answers will be. Are you worried that they won't be candid with you? Ask your questions in a non-threatening manner. For example: "I'm always interested in improving my management skills. Can you give me some insight on how I can be more effective?" This tactic is safe, constructive, and much better than bluntly asking, "what am I doing wrong?"


5. Be a Solution-Finder, Not a Problem-Identifier


It takes no particular talent to find fault, but many behave as though their "gift" must be shared again and again. You may know people at work who constantly nit-pick about company decisions. These professional problem-identifiers generally get stuck mid-way up the career ladder. Choosing to criticize or blame your superiors for their decisions shows great disloyalty and sets a lousy example for your staff. You have a duty to stand behind the powers that be, regardless of whether or not you agree whole-heartedly with their decisions.


Do you have to suffer in silence when you disagree vehemently with something at work? Not at all. You can develop the habit of criticizing positively by recommending a more perfect solution.


6. Show Boundless Enthusiasm


Enthusiasm is contagious, and successful managers realize the effect their attitude has on their mood and productivity. Constantly whining and complaining depletes valuable resources of energy. Can you afford it? The same situation, when presented to positive and negative personalities, will be perceived differently. An optimist looks forward to change and solves tough problems with enthusiasm. Good things seem to routinely come their way!