Last week, we examined people management and how it relates to leadership. We explored three people management skills that every leader needs. The first is careful observation: the ability to read your employees as a leader before undergoing organizational tasks such as assigning tasks, delegating responsibilities, and even firing staff. Observing your employees allow you to know how to help them be the best of themselves while working for you. The second skill we explored was good communication. At the bedrock of people management is effective communication as no relationship can thrive without communication, not even the leader-follower relationship. Lastly, we talked about emotional intelligence. Human beings are emotional beings and to interact with them profitably, you need to understand how to navigate their emotions. This puts you in a better position to lead them.
People management is a vital part of leadership and there are more people management skills than we can ever address. However, there are some that we have to explore in our understanding of the connection between people management and leadership. Here are some of them below:
1. Trust: this is one of the rather uncommon people management skills. Though uncommon, it is an important skill that leaders need to manage their employees properly. There are many reasons why trust is important in a leader-follower relationship if it is going to be successful. When you show your employees that you trust them and you give them tasks, it builds their self-confidence. Showing trust means you believe in their skills and their ability to get the job done. This is a boost for employees especially if they have been doubting their abilities lately. Having you, their leader show trust in them translates to them showing trust in themselves.
Also, trust prevents micromanagement and one of the things that employees hate about their leaders is micromanagement. No one wants to be told what to do, let alone be told how to do it, how not to do it, when to do it, when not to do it. Relationships get strained when micromanagement is involved. The one who is micromanaging is often dissatisfied with the work being done without giving the one doing the job enough time and space to do their job effectively. The person being micromanaged is also feeling terrible for having to work with someone looking over their shoulder now and then.
The presence of trust in a leader-follower relationship eliminates the problem of micromanagement and every other problem that may come up and enhances your people management skills as a leader.
2. Flexibility: another important people management skill is flexibility. While being firm and decisive is useful ineffective leadership, being flexible on some things also comes in very handy. You can have a manual or a step-by-step guide on how things should be done in your company. That is a good way of ensuring that things are done according to order and template.
However, part of effective people management is knowing that people cannot be ultimately controlled and that in business, the unexpected happens quite often. Being flexible allows you to put structures and systems that allow for effectiveness in play but also get ready to adjust if things do not go as planned. Instead of scolding an employee who does not work by your rule book, effective people management is understanding that as long as the end goal is achieved, the employee’s methods can also be encouraged. Flexibility is a must-have for every leader who wants to manage people effectively.
3. Support: The last people management skill we will be discussing here is supportiveness. We can never overemphasize the importance of being supportive of your team members. Oftentimes, leaders make the mistake of being out of the process. They are seen as supervisors and detach themselves from the team. When this happens, instead of your team seeing you as someone they are working with, they see you as someone they are working to impress. When that happens, there is a support gap that needs to be filled up.
The support of a leader is a constant encouragement that a team can never have enough of. When your team is having trouble getting the job done, you stepping in to encourage them and let them know that you are in this with them is a great way to motivate the team. Your support fuels their passion and productivity and also bonds the team.
People management is a broad aspect of leadership, one every leader should be master for effective leadership. With the skills we’ve highlighted here and the ones from last week, you can begin to improve your people management for better leadership performance.