How to Manage Like You Don't

How can managers set their teams up for success and empower their best work?

boss meets with employees
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Hard work. Dedication. An innovative approach to work.

There are a variety of reasons teams find success at work. But there's one factor that plays a huge role in whether a team thrives or struggles — and that's the person who's managing them.

A leader's management style can either make or break a team. So, the question is, in today's world of work, how can managers set their teams up for success and empower their best work?

Management Is Changing.

The most important thing to note about how to succeed as a manager in today's world of work is that the old rules of management just no longer apply.

Today's employees have different expectations around management, and successful leadership in today's world of work requires a different approach to management — one that's focused on empowering teams to do their best work instead of trying to force them to do so.

Or, in other words, leveraging influence instead of power.

"As a leader, it's important to understand the difference between power versus influence," occupational health psychologist Erin Eatough, PhD, writes for coaching platform BetterUp. "When you use influence to lead, you'll build deeper trust and loyalty with your team" — and it's that trust and loyalty that will empower your team to do their best work.

So, what does that look like in practice?

Embracing the New Model of Management

According to a recent Gallup survey, 70% of a team's engagement depends on the manager.

So, if you want to succeed as a manager in today's work culture, it's not enough to tell your employees how you want them to show up, you need to show them.

Do you want your employees to give 100% to every project? Then you need to model that behavior by giving them 100% of the support, resources, guidance and flexibility they need to succeed on that project.

Do you want your employees to be their most productive selves? Then you need to not only be productive yourself, but also create a framework that allows for a higher level of productivity throughout the day.

For example, according to research (registration required), 65% of all scheduled meetings actually prevent employees from working and completing all their tasks. So, if you want your employees to get more done, be the example and show them that you can get things done without the need for multiple meetings every day — and they'll follow suit. (According to the research, when meetings are reduced by 40%, productivity increases by an astounding 71%. The employees who participated in the study also reported feeling more in control of their time and schedule, which led to a 52% increase in job satisfaction — making this move a win-win.)

Being an example for your employees shows them that you're not all talk; you're committed to being the kind of team member you want them to be. This helps to build that trust and influence — and will help you successfully lead your team.

Or, in other words, as the saying goes, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." But if you want to thrive as a manager in today's world of work, you need to "Be the change you wish to see in your team."

Giving Your Team the Space to Do Their Best Work

As mentioned, trust is a critical element of today's management paradigm. But in order to foster that trust from your team, you need to extend that trust, as well.

And that means giving your employees the space and autonomy to do their work — and to do it their way.

"Today's employees want to be measured on the value they deliver, not the volume," Tim Minahan, EVP of business strategy at Citrix, writes (registration required) in the Harvard Business Review. "And they expect to be given the space and trust they need to do their very best work, wherever they happen to be."

Today's most successful managers don't micromanage. They don't insist that employees do work in a certain way (or, when they have decision-making power, at a certain place or at a certain time). They don't tell their employees what to do or how to do it. Instead, they trust their employees to get things done — and their employees respond by following through and getting things done (no micromanagement required).

Managing Like You Don't

To succeed in today's world of work, manage like you don't.

Clearly, management is changing. And while there are an infinite number of ways that those changes can manifest, it really all boils down to one thing: if you want to succeed as a manager today, manage like you don't.

Give your team the resources, training and guidance they need to succeed — and then step back and let them do so.

Instead of feeling like you have to manage every detail of their work experience, give them the trust and space to figure things out for themselves.

Let go of the need to control — and instead, look to inspire, guide and support.

As a manager in today's work environment, it's not your job to force your team to perform. Instead, it's your job to give them the framework they need to perform at their highest level — so start thinking about how to give them that framework.

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