Most days I think I am a pretty good manager. I do however have a few not so stellar moments. I am not always as patient as I should be with people. I can be a little defensive at times, and I certainly do not praise my folks as often as I should. I have other bad traits that come into play from time to time, but I think most of us do. What about you? Are there moments where you are maybe not the best leader you can be? I suspect that if you look really hard, then you may find a few.
I am not trying to dwell on the negative but it is important that you realize your bad traits. The main reason you need to be aware of them is so that you can make an effort or a plan to overcome them and be a better manager. Another reason that you need to be aware of them is that your direct reports are aware of your shortcomings as a manager. Not only are they aware of them, but they are likely to adopt your management traits. One of the things that really makes me strive to be the best manager, leader and human being that I can be is that I know that there are people that are following my lead. Whether I want to be their leadership role model or not, I am. Whether they want to admit that they are looking at me as a role model or not, they are. I see it in them every day.
I compared the annual reviews I wrote for my direct reports to the annual review that my boss completed on me. There are very striking similarities in them, and I take great pride in that as I think all of my direct reports are pretty good managers. It also scares me a little (in a good way). Bad traits get passed on just as easily as good traits. Be very careful of the example you are setting.
I think one of the most important examples that you can provide, is one that demonstrates you are constantly seeking self-improvement. I see a lot of managers and leaders at lower levels that are constantly seeking self-improvement. Through training, reading or formal classes, they are always trying to learn new things. I do not see it nearly as much at the senior levels and that is very troubling. There is no level in the organization that you can get to where you can simply stop trying to be better. Senior managers need to seek to improve their skills, if for no other reason than to set a good example.
If you are in a senior leadership position, what example are you setting on self-improvement?
What other ways can we ensure that our direct reports do not pick up our bad habits?
Sometimes I sit down to write about a topic and the final product has nothing to with what I intended to write about. Today is certainly one of those days. I am happy with what I ended up with, so I hope you enjoy it as well.
Photo courtesy of istockphoto/Daniel Martínez