LEADERSHIP / MAR. 23, 2016
version 8, draft 8

The Management Trap: Where is Strong Leadership Most Important?

Have you ever had a weak manager? If so, you can probably identify with the kind of indecision, pandering and aimlessness that makes David Brent look like a Fortune 500 leader. While some managers are just plain inept, however, there are others that can be described as a work-in-progress as they look to develop their leadership skills and become better in their roles.

While this transitional period can lead to weak management, it is important to distinguish between inept leaders and those who are simply learning their craft. After all, you cannot choose your manager as an employee (no matter how much you pray or ask for a new one), so it is far better to work with an individual that has potential and raw leadership skills rather than someone who has limited people skills, an inability to make decisions and a lack of strategic vision.

Where is strong Leadership most Important? 3 Key Areas to focus on

To understand this further, imagine it from the perspective of the manager in question. After all, those who are learning their management trade are still expected to lead teams and individuals while they develop, while they must also deal with the expectations of their employees and their own superiors. With this in mind, inexperienced managers with potential must be focused on their precise development path, while they must also identify the areas of business where strong leadership is most important.

So in addition to your own individual areas of weakness as an aspiring leader, here are three of the other aspects that demand particular attention and some steps that you can take to succeed in these:

1. The Importance of Hiring, Firing and Employee Retention

Ah recruitment. This can either make or break a business, as choosing to hire and fire without a carefully defined strategy can leave you with a one-dimensional workforce that features more personality clashes than an episode of Geordie Shore.

This is where strong leadership and management comes into play, as this can drive one of numerous potential recruitment strategies and maintain a strategic overview of the personality types and skill-sets that will thrive in your particular business and industry. Given that hiring and firing also demands decisiveness both in terms of recruiting candidates for work and releasing those who have underperformed, strong leadership is pivotal to cultivating a holistic and productive workforce.

To achieve this, work with your marketers to understand the brand and the underlying values and philosophies that underpin your business. From here you can identify a number of brand attributes, which can in turn create a list of characteristics that you look for in employees alongside their existing skill-sets. This should form the basis for your recruitment strategy, while you can also use your instinct and understanding of your business to make determinations where necessary.

The same principle can be applied to human resources (HR), which focuses on the relationship that exists between your business and each individual employee. It is the work of talented and motivated humans that drive your business, so your ability to retain talent and maintain a content workforce is pivotal. Strong leadership and organisational skills are required to manage this, so you must look to maintain a proactive outlook and implement a comprehensive, all-encompassing process to handle employee queries.

2. Using Strength and Precision to Drive Profitability

Whether you are a manager of a company or lead a small team within an overarching firm, you are likely to have a budget that is expected to drive a financial return. Your financial knowledge and management skills must there be strong, as this will ensure that you reduce costs while maintaining quality and driving profitability.

While this sounds easy, it is only achievable through an understanding of cash-flow, the implementation of a clear strategic vision and the willingness to drive processes and adapt where necessary. If you lack one or all of these attributes, the chances are that your business will struggle to maintain cash-flow and accumulate debts with suppliers and associated service providers.

So how do you adapt to this challenge and manage company (or department) finances in a way that drives a profitable business? Simplicity is the key, as you prioritise strategic costs (which drive profitability and business growth) and non-strategic costs (which are usually operational in their nature and do not directly influence the bottom line). This should help you to create and spend your budget effectively in the pursuit of a fiscal return, without forcing crucial areas of the business to miss out on investment.

From here, you can consider hidden business costs and ensure that there are contingencies to account for these. This is where a strategic eye and innate management ability are crucial, as these attributes identify potential issues and create solutions to prevent them.

The eradication of workplace stress offers a relevant example, as an estimated 440,000 employees claimed to be suffering from a work-related stress condition during 2014 alone. This issue can be proactively tackled through measures such as flexible working directives and investment in workplace social events, meaning that strong and progressive financial management can save, as well as generate money.

3. Leading Your Brand to Success

marketing team

On the subject of strategic costs, marketing is arguably the single best example of this. After all, a strong marketing campaign for your business will lead to engagement with more potential customers and clients to help your company grow. This translates into better sales conversions and turnover, which means that you are 90% towards leading a growing business with impressive financial results.

There is an old Chinese proverb which suggests that those who have travelled 90% of their chosen path are only half-way towards their destination, however, this highlights the difficulty in achieving specific goals. This can be applied to marketing, as even the best campaigns require strong management to ensure that they are measured in terms of cost and capable of delivering a profit from the additional income (and interest) generated.

So, if you are determined to polish up your management skills, we recommend that this is the one to focus on as a priority. Strong marketing management probably needs to be split into two distinct phases, too, starting with the decision to drive targeted traffic to your website through social campaigns, print media and SEO investment. In fact, your campaign should be based on garnered insight and analytical CRM data, as this makes sure that you market to interested parties who are able and most importantly motivated to spend their money!

Your second consideration is the generated ROI on each campaign, as all good leaders and managers understand that even the most hilarious, viral campaign is meaningless if it doesn’t encourage customers to spend. As a manager you will be judged on the bottom line rather than the immersive nature of your marketing, so be sure to deploy social media metrics at an early stage to monitor interactions and determine how much your marketing investment is generating.

If you are unable to drive and manage an effective marketing campaign, you will be unable to apply your newly acquired skills for very long.  

See Also: - How to deal with an Absentee manager

While you should leave no stone unturned in your quest to become a better manager, it is important to prioritise some areas of learning over others! If you would like to share your thoughts or leave some suggestions of your own, please let us know in the comments section below.

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