Sharpening Six Key Skills of Exceptional Managers

Sticky Notes.jpgAn often overlooked but fundamental aspect of being an exceptional manager is self-reflection and analysis of our own behaviors as leaders or mentors. This self-discovery is critical to leading effectively, and to managing high-performance teams that deliver on your objectives and those of the business. 

We’ve gathered six common shortfalls that plague many managers today, and how to close the gaps to drive better management and growth, personally and professionally.


As many managers get caught up in their busy, day-to-day schedules, they oftentimes forget how much worth employees gain just by being heard. Keep these simple tips in mind when sharpening your listening skills:

• Remove all distractions.
• Make direct eye contact.
• Be both physically and mentally present in the conversation.
• Don’t interrupt.
• Combine conversation with other signals and body language.

There are ways to uncover the behaviors and personalities that make up an individual’s blueprint.
Recognizing what makes your employees tick will help you better understand them. High-performing teams recognize, understand and appreciate the different behavioral styles of each member, allowing for higher productivity, team cohesiveness and unprecedented performance levels. Consider utilizing assessments and DISC solutions to better understand:

• The problem-solving and decision-making approach of all team members, and how different styles work best together to achieve results
• Strengths and overextensions of each team members’ behavioral style, and a holistic view of the overall team’s effectiveness and areas for improvement
• Communication preferences of team members, and how to approach different styles including key words and phrases that facilitate effective team communication.

Teamwork is the secret that makes common organizations achieve uncommon results. The nature of today’s business environment, the need for innovation, and competitive pressures are all fueling a demand for work groups that perform well together. Acquiring top talent is one piece of the puzzle, getting employees to work well together and effectively solve business challenges is the hard part.
Consider these tips when helping your team align their strengths for achieving the greatest success:

• Share your vision for team collaboration.
• Present trainings that enhance teambuilding skills that employees can apply in their daily practices.
• Deliver expectations as to the values, functions, and competencies your teams members should have.

Once teamwork has become a healthy frame of mind, your attention should move towards producing high performing teams. Building high-impact teams takes into account individual team members’ behavioral style to best understand the team’s overall characteristics, manage potential conflicts, communication breakdowns, and drive better performance. When developing these teams:

• Allow team members to contribute in constructing the guidelines and traits of their framework.
• Ask team members to take personal responsibility.
• Prepare team members to make immediate, individual impact after returning from a team building activity.
• Create vision and mission focused plans that outline actionable goals for each team member.

If a mentoring program currently doesn’t exist, strongly consider the development of one. As you do, formulate or adjust your program to incorporate these five crucial areas:

• Design – Design your program around the distinct traits of your employees.
• Choice– Administer elements of choice in your program so all parties will thrive as success is achieved.
• Compatibility– Ensure your program’s chances of success by confirming the mentor and mentee have alike personalities.
• Creativity– Guarantee the outcomes you want by applying some creativity when shaping your program logistics.
• Measurement– Evaluate mentoring situations by using measurement tools so that any needed changes can be made.

Negotiations involve cultivating continual, committed relationships with others through shared benefits. Consider the following when making negotiations:

• Explore the most suitable solutions for everyone involved.
• Focus on needs, not wants.
• Integrate mutual gains so all parties’ profit.
• Remove the individuals from the issue.