‘Soft Management’ Is Key to Effective Teams

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Those who manage, or who work with managers on a daily basis, know that managers will often ask for status reports or meetings on a daily or weekly basis in order to judge how projects are progressing. And many times, those reports or meetings are where true “management” seems to end.

In my experience, managing via status checks is one-dimensional and insufficient. For instance, it doesn’t take anything into account other than how work is progressing, which provides zero insight into vital elements such as morale, the effectiveness of collaboration, or prioritization. True leadership seems especially lacking in tech because many managers, although very bright, are disconnected from this “soft leadership” part of the equation; they have a hard time stepping back to assess their environment from a totally different angle.

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Given this lack of a “holistic approach” to management, it would be interesting to review what good leaders (i.e., high-performance individuals) should be doing, whether they’re midlevel managers, startup mavens, or top executives at a major tech firm. Whatever their title, all managers have a team; and only those managers whose teams perform at consistently high levels can achieve the gains they need.

Link Leadership Strategy to Business Strategy

When team members understand their roles and how they fit into the larger picture, a business thrives. That means taking the time to actually coach and train those employees, rather than throwing them into the proverbial deep end of the pool and hoping they swim. (You wouldn’t believe how many companies choose the latter option.) Sending your employees to formal development programs can also build a pipeline of talent—which ultimately helps drive the business strategy.

In high-performance companies (whether startups or well-established firms), the typical “pyramid” of leadership (in which decisions and power percolate downward) is inverted, with line managers and midlevel people having a significant effect on the CEO and how the company performs overall. That makes a firm leadership strategy (and training) even more valuable.

Training, Training and More Training

Did we mention training before? Let’s say it again. Education and training never get old, especially as technology keeps evolving. Good managers make it a point to educate themselves on the latest and greatest in their field.

The CEO Doesn’t Play the Role Alone

The CEO of a high-performance organization with great leadership usually has a great support staff and lower managers that help his or her (and the company) look great. It’s about fostering culture, teamwork and true collaboration along with creativity and innovation, all of which needs to be championed from the top levels on down, so that the entire organization can “buy into” that type of philosophy. The CEO isn’t a king in the medieval sense, but another team player (albeit one with a lot more responsibility than those in the company’s middle tiers.)

Conclusion

A focus on “soft management” and collaboration can translate into boosts in morale, employees feeling valued, and an increasingly well-trained workforce.

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