How To Manage Without Being Mean (Is It Possible To Not Be Pushy?)

Think about the worst boss you ever had. Remember what it felt like to go to work every day, knowing you had to report to someone who didn’t value your contributions and didn’t respect you as a person. Related: #1 Key To Becoming An Effective Leader Now, think about the best boss you ever had. The person who was tough but fair, and who made you feel like your work mattered. Reflect back on your performance under both of those people. Where did you shine and where did you struggle? Chances are astronomically high that you did a better job under the supervision of the person who believed in you, encouraged you, and managed to your strengths. Most of us falter and underperform when we’re constantly being scrutinized by pushy people – be they micro-managers, passive aggressive malcontents, or flat-out bullies. It’s something we understand intuitively: effective managers bring out the best in us. They understand that we have great work ethic, and that, if we’re in the right job, with the right resources, we will accomplish great things. They support us, challenge us, and help us get back on track when we fail. If you’re new to your management role and haven’t quite gotten the swing of it yet, you’re in luck! The world of work has never been more focused on leadership development, and paradigms are shifting. The best part is, there isn’t one right way to do it. You get to define the leadership style that works best for you.

Don’t Manage. Lead.

Did you notice that we’re now talking about leadership instead of management? That’s not an accident. If you want to be effective, let go of the belief that you have the power to manage other people’s behavior. You don’t. What you do have is the power to coach, inspire, support, and lead. Yes, there will be times when you have to be directive, but they should be few and far between. Rather than giving orders, focus on the innate strengths and talents of the people on your team, and do everything in your power to develop them. Embrace the theory (Theory Y, to be exact) that people are self-motivated, ambitious, and possess self-control and treat them accordingly. The vast majority will rise to the occasion. The ones who don’t are either likely in the wrong role or have things going on in their lives outside work that are keeping them from giving 100%.

Solicit Input From Your Team

If you believe that the people who work for you want to do well and have an internal drive to succeed, go solicit their input on issues big and small: projects, departmental policies, or who’s organizing the next pot-luck. Even if you already know where you want to go with a project, asking for participation in the process increases buy-in, and that’s what you ultimately want. You could have the best idea in the world, but your team isn’t going to implement it well if you’re constantly forcing your agenda on them. None of us like having decisions foisted upon us; our natural reaction is to push back and exert whatever autonomy we have. When you involve your team, they get to have their voices heard and you have an opportunity to address their concerns. And who knows – they might make your good ideas even better. To take it one step further, you can ask each person on your team how they prefer to be managed, and what you can do to be more helpful to them. (This requires that your people have enough self-awareness to know what they truly need, and that you have thick enough skin to take it.) By having these candid conversations with your direct reports – and then following through on your commitments – you lay the foundation for relationships based on mutual respect.

Explore Your Style

There are dozens of leadership styles that have been documented and researched. Now is a great time to start exploring. You may find that you prefer Situational to Servant or Transformational to Charismatic, and that’s totally fine! The consensus among management gurus is that no single style is best 100% of the time. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a “born leader.” This is absolutely something you can develop over time and with practice. Evaluate the material out there and decide what feels best for you. Try new techniques. Be strategic about the styles you use. Stretch and grow. Trust your gut. You’ll be able to tell when you’re leading effectively. And your employees will thank you for it. This post was originally published at an earlier date.

Related Posts

6 Ways To Prepare For A Management Job 4 Qualities All Great Managers Have 5 Ways To Make Your Employees Feel Motivated And Rewarded

About the author

Kim Eisenberg, MSW, has been helping people create rewarding career paths for the past 10+ years. She blends her expertise in corporate career services and organizational leadership to deliver business savvy, strengths-based coaching with an emphasis on transitioning fields or making the leap to entrepreneurship. Schedule a free consultation with Kim here.     Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

When most people think of Nike, they think of shoes, retail stores, and, of course, athletes. That's all true, but there's more. Behind Nike's walls, you'll find the doers and thinkers who design, create, and innovate every day. There are also data scientists who discover and leverage athlete insights to create the future of sport.

You might be surprised to learn about the impact you can have in Data & Analytics at Nike versus at a major tech giant. Nike employees get to work on a wide array of challenges, so if you're obsessed with math, science, computers, and/or data, and you love sport, these stories may inspire you to work at Nike.

SHOW MORE Show less

Employee loyalty is something every company longs for. It's estimated employee turnover costs as much as 130-200% of an employee's salary. When a talented, knowledgeable, trained employee leaves, it's bad for business. And, when lots of them leave, it can be the kiss of death.

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the interview situation one of our viewers, Remi submitted. He was in an interview and was asked the question: How many cows are there in Canada right now? - What a weird question but this is a technique that some hiring managers are using these days.

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Kevin submitted. He is a college student who's working a part time job to make ends meet. The manager/owner of the company has become a micro-manager who watches him work on camera and reads his company emails. A bit over the top wouldn't you say?

SHOW MORE Show less

All work and no play can create a tense and unwelcoming environment. Studies have shown that employers that offer additional perks have employees that are happier and more loyal to their place of employment. If you are looking for an employer that acknowledges how important it is to give its employees a place to de-stress and bond with their co-workers, check out these companies!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if you worked for an owner who micro-manages you my watching you work on camera and reading through your company emails.

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less