The Habits That Transform Good Managers into Great Leaders

Published On: July 20, 20233.9 min read

The role of managers is pivotal in driving organizational success, encompassing accountability, alignment, strategy, and execution. In a recent Align webinar, Alicia Davis, Certified Scaling Up Coach, shared invaluable insights on the habits that elevate good managers to become exceptional leaders. 

The Power of Habits

Alicia opened her webinar with a quote from F. Matthias Alexander: “People do not decide their futures. They decide their habits, and their habits decide their futures.” 

Habits are routine behaviors that shape our actions and ultimately determine our success. By understanding the critical role habits play in our lives, we can intentionally cultivate positive habits that drive growth as leaders.

Building Accountability

Effective managerial habits can help drive organizational success by creating a culture of accountability. Alicia introduced the “5 C’s of Accountability” as a framework to establish accountability within teams:

  1. Common Purpose (The “why”)
  2. Clear Expectations
  3. Communication and Alignment
  4. Collaboration (Coaching)
  5. Consequences (Learning from opportunities)

Accountability begins with defining clear expectations before day one. It includes hiring the right people and ensuring they are aligned with the organization’s goals from the beginning. Utilizing effective hiring strategies such as the Topgrading method is helpful to avoiding costly mistakes. 

Alicia presents scorecards as an example of an instrumental way to define expectations for each role and determine progress of each employee. Scorecards should be integrated into the onboarding and performance management processes.

Fostering Alignment

Alignment throughout the organization is vital for sustained success. Fostering alignment involves understanding the “why” and bringing it to life from the top-down. 

Every company needs core values and a core purpose that serve as the company’s guide for how they do business. The values and purpose should be interwoven into all critical decisions including hiring, firing, and performance management.

It’s the responsibility of the leaders and managers to ensure that the company’s people, processes, and activities all align with vision, core purpose, and core values.

The Importance of Strategic Direction

Employees’ ability to understand the company’s goals and their own roles in achieving them prompts collaboration and focused efforts. Sharing the strategic plan with the whole company cultivates a unified culture and enables employees to align their individual priorities with the broader objectives. 

There are several key components of company strategy that every employee must know and understand to help create a unified culture, including a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)–the big goal to achieve in 10-20 years; 3-5 year targets; and annual initiatives. 

Following through with Execution

At the end of the day, connecting the dots between strategy and execution is more important than the strategy itself.

By defining clear targets and providing direction to teams, managers ensure everyone understands their role and that each short-term objective moves the needle toward the big-picture goals.

One way that companies execute successfully is by setting 90-day priorities. These priorities answer the question, “What are the most important things we need to do now to move the company forward this next period?”

Managers should then cascade the 90-day objectives into individual SMART goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), enabling employees to track progress and identify areas of improvement. 

By involving team members in goal setting and goal tracking, managers promote a sense of shared ownership.

Maintaining Communication and Feedback

Effective communication and feedback are essential for successful collaboration. Establishing a communication rhythm, including regular one-on-one meetings, facilitates the efficient flow of information within teams. These meetings provide a safe space for sharing ideas, addressing concerns, and discussing progress. 

Managers should utilize these sessions to review individual performance, assess KPIs, and provide feedback to support growth and development. Closing the feedback loop is crucial, as managers must take action on feedback received and address concerns promptly.

Providing Visibility

Visibility is paramount in achieving accountability and alignment. Progress, KPIs, and Critical Numbers should be accessible to everyone, not just leadership teams. This promotes transparency and a shared understanding of the company’s trajectory.

Achieving Personal Growth

Managers who prioritize the development of their team members create a more engaged and skilled workforce, and more efficient goal alignment

By identifying strengths and areas for improvement, managers can provide guidance and opportunities for growth to their team members. They can also strengthen themselves to be more effective leaders by focusing on their own personal growth.

Final Thoughts

By adopting and practicing the habits Alicia highlighted, good managers can transform into great leaders who drive organizational success. Establishing a clear strategy and executing it while empowering individual team members will enable managers to navigate the challenges of an ever-evolving business landscape.

To learn how Align can be the tool that enables your managers to drive performance with their teams, book your demo today.

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