Many managers are very good at identifying the strengths and weaknesses in others. And yet, they often lack the same awareness about themselves. It’s easy to understand why this happens.
In constant pursuit of results, managers focus much of their time and attention on the contributions of others. They provide feedback, constructive critique and suggestions for improvement. They’re so busy monitoring and evaluating the behaviors of other people, they never stop to reflect on their own contributions and behaviors, and how they might be impacting the team.
As a result, these managers can miss important signs that improvement on their part is needed; instead, they begin to believe it’s everyone else that needs to change. In some cases, they may begin to see themselves as an expert in all arenas, rather than recognizing they’re true talents and leveraging those of others to fill in the inevitable gaps.
As a manager, it’s a good idea to pause from time to time and look in the mirror. Instead of focusing all your attention on the performance of others, redirect some of that back on to yourself. Here are some simple recommendations to help you do this.
Monitor How Your Team Responds to You
Your team members are a wonderful source of information, though they aren’t always forthright about it. You can learn a lot simply by watching their response to you—their body language, facial expressions and general demeanor. For example, do they resist getting you involved when challenges arise? Do they appear fearful when mistakes happen? Or do they rely on you too much? Are they not adequately concerned with errors and missteps?
These things are indications of your management style. Yes, there may be potential performance issues to be addressed, but it’s important to look at the situation and ask what part you’ve played in creating it.
Ask for Feedback
Demonstrating confidence in your abilities as a manager is a necessity, but humility is equally important. Asking your team for direct feedback is a great way to open the lines of communication and gain new perspectives about yourself.
Make it safe and comfortable for them to honestly critique you. Anonymous assessments are generally the safest way to go. However, it’s essential that you honor the process and don’t silently hold grudges for what you learn. Further, your team wants to know that the feedback they’ve shared was heard. Don’t disregard it. Use it to inspire your own growth and potentially create new processes to better support the team.
Reflect on Team Dynamics
Remember that feedback can also be delivered in even less direct forms. If your team is experiencing high turnover, for example, that’s a reflection on you. Likewise, if your team is full of long-term, loyal staff members, that too is a reflection. Conflict, collaboration and, indeed, results are all (at least somewhat) yours to own. Don’t be quick to blame or credit outside forces. Instead, assess your contribution honestly and make adjustments where needed.
Also read: Leaders: False and True
Look at Your Role Models
Finally, take a moment to remember your managerial role models. What qualities made them admirable? In comparison, how closely are you following in their footsteps? Would you make them proud with your behaviors today?
Taking the time to build self-awareness is a worthwhile endeavor for any manager. You’ll be better off for it, and your team will thank you too.