Switching hats from manager to mentor to coach

Leadership: One role with many responsibilities

As a leader, you are responsible for the performance of your team. You’ll want to inspire and motivate your employees.

There will be times when you need to manage your team – controlling what tasks are carried out, when, and how.

At other times you will need to mentor teams and individuals, focusing on the future and the need for individual and team development.

You’ll also need to be a coach, helping to deliver the skills needed in the here and now.

How can you deliver all these responsibilities? The answer is by employing the characteristics of servant leadership and switching hats between the roles of manager, mentor, and coach.

Does servant leadership deliver real results?

The idea of servant leadership – that the leader exists to help the development and progression of their employees – is often met with criticism. This criticism centers around the idea that servant leadership does nothing to enhance revenues or profitability.

However, research published in the Journal of Business Ethics contradicts this. The research compared profitability of retail outlets in a single chain of stores, in which different leadership styles were employed. Of the 22 stores that increased profits, 18 were led by managers who scored highly in servant leadership style.

Why do you need managers who can change hats?

In the VUCA world, employees must be highly engaged and change prepared. To lead in the post-COVID world, managers must be able to inspire employees to learn quickly, adapt seamlessly, and improve their skills and experience.

·         The need for managing

Leaders must manage to produce the operational outcomes demanded by the business. These outcomes may be determined by results such as improved productivity, increasing revenues, or gaining market share.

At specific moments that may be determined by factors outside the control of the organization, managers and leaders may need to direct tasks for speed, efficiency, and cost.

·         The need for coaching

At other times, managers may need to provide coaching that is required to get work done. They will need to listen to their employees, translate feedback into learning needs, and provide tutorship that delivers to these needs.

As part of this coaching role, managers must develop their communication skills to accurately assess and feedback on performance, explain actions with clarity, and describe goals for employees.

·         The need for mentorship

Mentoring employees and teams helps them develop their skillsets for the future. Managers and leaders must become good storytellers, sharing their experience and knowledge in strategic ways that deliver the message and provide impetus for development in the omnichannel work environment.

Mentees select their mentors. This choice is founded upon the formation of a trusting relationship, and one in which the mentee has respect for the mentor. Only then will the mentee view the mentor as a confidante. While formal mentorship programs are becoming more common, they will undershoot the potential of mentorship if the basis of trust between mentee and mentor is not established.

How do you change hats seamlessly?

Managers often make the mistake of seeing each function of leadership – managing, mentoring, and coaching – as different roles. They try to compartmentalize how they manage for specific times or events.

In truth, managers and leaders have one role – and this is to use their authority to lead. Effective communication is key to effective leadership, and it is the interaction style you use that switches your mode of leadership between managing, mentoring, and coaching.

By developing leadership and communication tools, managers can switch their approach to lead appropriately depending on circumstance and need.

Embed servant leadership characteristics

The main characteristics of servant leadership will serve to develop the capability of managers and leaders to wear all hats simultaneously. The characteristics are:

  • Self and social awareness
  • Listening skills
  • Empathy
  • Persuasion/influence
  • Commitment to develop others
  • Supportive
  • Ability to build a community, with shared values and goals

(You can read more about these in our article ‘7 leadership behaviors to inspire employee engagement’)

Communicating effectively to deliver management/leadership promise

Leadership and management are centered on the ability to communicate effectively. Only by understanding how to communicate, and in which context, can a leader influence behavior and action, impart knowledge, and share experience.

To learn more about developing an effective communication strategy as a manager or leader, connect with Forward Focus today.

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