Every company needs managers to make sure that the work gets done and employees stay on track. Every manager needs specific skills to be successful. However, many people who excel at their job get promoted to management without proper training. Managing people is vastly different from managing a process or project, and studies find that companies pick or hire the wrong people for managers 82% of the time! Now that’s a ton of wasted time, lost revenue, retraining costs, and frustration.
Finding the right people with the needed skill sets may be challenging. However, without the right mindsets, regardless of their skills, there is little chance your managers will be successful.
When you read articles or books on the qualities needed to be an effective manager, you’ll read about everything from health-conscious with a good morning routine to being a hard worker willing to sacrifice. Or you’ll hear how managers need to be self-disciplined and good at time management. You’ll read ad nauseam about how managers need to set goals, be results-oriented, self-starters and have a good work ethic. You’ll be as seasick as a preschooler on their first voyage of whale watching.
Let me save you a lot of time. Make sure that your managers have these three mindsets, and you’ll find that all the other qualities are usually already in play!
Crucial Mindsets for Managers
Before we dive into the essential mindsets for effective managers, let’s first define what a mindset is.
A mindset is how we see the world and how we view ourselves and others in the world. It’s the accumulative effect of collective assumptions, attitudes, and dispositions that predetermine our responses to and our interpretations of experiences and relationships.
As you can see, a mindset is vital for a person in the role of managing others. If a person views people they manage in a negative way, no matter how smart they are or how great their experience, they’re going to fail.
The first mindset is a mindset surrounding how a person views conflict.
MINDSET #1: A Love of Transforming Conflict into Inspired Creativity and Collaboration
I was giving a business workshop with multiple human resource specialists recently. After introducing the concept of creating synergy from conflict and how to create collaboration and win-win relationships, a very experienced HR man told me that he simply manages conflict in his company. “It’s the best you can expect,” he retorted.
Ouch. Whatever we “expect” becomes a limiter. Our perspective sets the bar. This man had lowered his bar so low that the company and their culture were stale with poor employee attitudes and managers who micromanaged or only “managed conflict.”
It’s easy to keep on top of “things,” not so easy to stay on top of people—people are not intended to be managed. Therefore, it takes a manager ingenuity to discover what motivates employees, what drives their performance, and what inspires their best work.
How is conflict related to motivation and creativity? The very same meeting point that causes conflict is creative tension. Managers must learn how to convert that tension between employees toward a purpose and ultimately, achievement.
Conflict is a natural part of life, although very few people like conflict or know how to handle it effectively. When considering someone for management, one of the first questions to ask is, “How do you feel about conflict?” And secondly, present the person with a likely scenario that would happen on the job in your company. Ask him or her how they would handle it. If they say, “I hate conflict,” “I avoid it at all costs,” or stumble for an answer, move on! Or the potential manager says, “I just tell them to shut up, buck up, and do the job,” they have revealed volumes. It indicates the person moves to control automatically without curiosity or to seek to build a bridge of teamwork.
A person who is reticent to deal with conflict or overpowers when a dispute arises usually doesn’t know how to get people moving in the same direction. They lack the insight into people needed to galvanize a team.
If the person responds by saying, “Conflict is going to happen; I think it’s an opportunity to build understanding.” Or “I’ve learned that inside conflict lies some of the best ideas”—consider exploring them for management.
Related reading: "Why Emotional Intelligence Is Crucial in Business Today"
MINDSET #2: A Growth Mindset
Earlier the general term mindset was defined, but what is the definition of a growth mindset. It’s best to turn to the research: Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, who extensively studied achievement and success in education, states it this way:
“Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset.”
Excerpt from “What Having a Growth Mindset Actually Means.”
In other words, growth is possible not only for us but for others. If growth is possible, then change is possible. With the ingredients of a growth mindset, a manager will be able to instill possibilities, keep employees focused on the right things, and build a clear vision of working together for the best outcome.
Ingredients of a Growth Mindset
- Focus and effort increase the likelihood of success.
- Skills and capabilities are and can be developed.
- Love of learning encourages growth.
- Mistakes are a natural part of life and help us grow.
- A person has the power to change themselves.
- Knowledge and strategies can make us more effective over time.
Inherent in these ingredients is an individual who encourages and believes in others. They will view mistakes as a way to learn and reach better decisions in the future, stimulating employees to do their best work. Believing that everyone has potential, not just the superstars, this manager will be open to ideas, encourage feedback, and naturally affirm those around him.
This management style will be far different than someone with a fixed mindset that believes that you either have it or you don’t. A fixed mindset rigidly holds the premise that talent alone creates success, and performance isn’t about hard work; it depends solely on intelligence and gifts. When a manager has this attitude, he or she is much more likely to ignore others’ perspectives and input. With this mental construct, it is as if the person has blinders on. He or she blocks critical information, excluding or minimizing vital contributions that estrange employees, limits creativity, and creates biases that thwart the most earnest teams.
Related reading: "The 12 Crucial Leadership Traits of a Growth Mindset"
MINDSET #3: Trustworthiness Built on Walking their Talk
Lastly, a manager can have little to no positive influence or effectiveness without trustworthiness. Trust is the foundation of everything else that matters on a team and in a leader. No one respects a person who says one thing and does another. When a manager expects his team or the employees under his supervision to live by a standard that he or she does not live by, trust cannot be cultivated.
When we can’t trust a person’s words, this aberration fuels discouragement and tanks the morale of a team. For a manager to be truly successful, he must first win the trust of the employees. They need to respect him by the example he sets. When a manager has an iron-clad alignment between their words and actions, that solidarity increases confidence and generates motivation in employees. And this congruency provides a tremendous underpinning to a company's values and mission as well.
A manager with these three mindsets will be like a laser cutting through steel, eliminating the obstacles that plague many teams. Creating a foundation of trust and a culture of collaboration with a growth mindset sets the stage for success. Add fearlessness of challenges and conflicts, and you have a winning and unstoppable combination.
Are you ready to create a thriving culture in your organization? If you’d like support, contact Heartmanity for Business.