How to be a Manager with Leadership Flair
By Chelse Benham
”Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who
would be affected by it.” – Marian Anderson (1897-1993), first black singer to
perform with the Metropolitan Opera
Managers are made, not born. There can be a steep learning curve in the making
of tenderfoot managers learning how to juggle the many facets of business. It
requires skill, adaptability and perceptibility to see the larger picture of how their
office fits in the organization and how the people within the office fit together. It’s
difficult enough to manage the “status quo,” but to manage an office that is
expanding and changing dynamics requires a manager to become adroit in
“Everybody has individual attitudes. Positive morale is created by bringing these
attitudes together through communication,” said Susie Chapa, coordinator of
Cooperative Education at The University of Texas-Pan American’s Career
Placement Services Office. “Having respect for each other and then
communicating openly builds a strong office team spirit that is at the core of
office morale. It can prove effective when dealing with difficult people too.”
Roger Dawson, author of, “Secrets of Power Persuasion: Everything you’ll ever
need to get anything you’ll ever want,” writes in his book that “persuasion is the
art of getting people to go along with your point of view, to see it your way…
There are underlying forces at work in our life that cause us to control other
people or be controlled by them.” Dawson writes about the various methods of
persuading people. He assures people can be persuaded if:
• they think you can reward them.
• they think you can punish them.
• they think you have more expertise than they do.
• you have bonded with them.
• you act consistently.
• the situation limits their options.
According to Dawson the success in any enterprise comes from a balanced
combination of three elements: the mission of the organization, its leadership and
the people who make it happen.
As a new manager, Dawson emphasizes not to try and make large changes
immediately. Instead, he suggests that a newly hired manager needs to build
credibility. To do that he suggests the following:
People campaign for the first month. Learn the names and get to know
the employees, managers, administrators and staff that you will be
working with. Do some management by walking around. Hold meetings
with the different departments, and do more listening than you do talking.
Try to fix the little things first. Try this approach, “I’m new here, and I
don’t know enough yet to help you with the big problems. But maybe I can
help you with the little problems. Who’s got a little problem that’s bugging
them?” You’ll probably hear things like, “We would like a clock in the
employee lunchroom.” It’s a chance to be a real hero to your people
without having to play fast and loose with the company budget.
Follow through on every commitment you make. Be careful not to
agree to things that previous management has consistently rejected, most
likely for a good reason.
Be sure everyone is told about your background and expertise.
Discuss your background with your employees. The public relations office,
if there is one, can handle this for you. This affords the opportunity to
emphasize your credentials and your ability to get the job done.
Focus on what you can give. The key to effective persuasion isn’t to
concentrate on what you want to get from the other person. The secret to
power persuasion is to focus on what you can give to the other person –
understanding that when you give people what they want, they’ll give you
what you want.
“Effective management requires more than simply assigning tasks among the
team,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of “Motivating
Employees For Dummies.” On the Web site www.accountemps.com Messmer
states, "Leaders have a responsibility to inspire others to achieve their full
potential. Those in a position of authority set an example for others. Strong
leaders have a strategic mindset, sound judgment, enthusiasm for their work and
the ability to prioritize competing projects. They also must be able to cultivate
these same qualities in the people they hire."
Messmer offers the following suggestions for effective leadership on the Web
• Develop a clearly defined vision for your department and communicate it
to your team.
• Give employees meaningful responsibilities and provide them with the
necessary resources and support.
• Help individuals learn, grow and realize their professional ambitions.
• Acknowledge that you don't always have the right answers. Seek and
accept the advice of those who have more experience and expertise,
regardless of their rank.
“Effective, ethical persuasion is predicated on identification between the
persuader and his audience. We believe those people who look, act and sound
like us also think like us,” said Dr. George McLemore, associate professor in the
Department of Communication at The University of Texas-Pan American.
“Ultimately, the audience is persuaded to the degree that they identify with the
Messmer also offers the following five tips for building stronger relationships with
• Establish open lines of communication. Schedule one-on-one and
team meetings regularly so that staff can contribute to business decisions.
Employees want their questions, concerns and ideas to be heard. When
someone on staff has a good suggestion, act on it.
• Empower them. Show trust in your team by giving them the authority to
make decisions. Be available when needed, but allow your staff flexibility
in how they accomplish business objectives.
• Stand up for employees. Support your staff when they encounter
roadblocks. If someone on your team makes a mistake, avoid rushing to
judgment. Instead, help the person learn from the situation and take steps
to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
• Recognize achievements. Praise employees for their accomplishments
and reinforce the behaviors you would like others to emulate. Low-cost
rewards such as an occasional free lunch or movie passes can be highly
• Provide advancement opportunities. In addition to competitive
compensation and benefits, invest in training and development programs
to help employees build new skills. If budgets are tight, look for other ways
to promote career development, such as a mentoring program.
Managers must meet challenges and face new projects. Often this means taking
on tasks not previously encountered. To help decrease the learning curve,
Messmer suggests the following:
• Let the experts be the experts. Rely on your team for their knowledge
and tactical skills, and focus your efforts on motivating employees and
keeping projects on track.
• Don't rush to judgment. Avoid making quick decisions. Instead, consider
the situation from several different angles and gather a variety of feedback
before establishing a plan.
• Take all perspectives into account. While you want to solicit various
viewpoints, don't be unduly influenced by one or two particularly vocal
team members. Strong, silent types often are especially observant and
can provide valuable input.
• Give credit where it's due. Thank employees and co-workers who share
their insights, and give them credit for their ideas and their efforts.
Andrew Durbin, author of “Winning Office Politics,” advices that mangers act
promptly on administrative matters. “Bosses who neglect or procrastinate about
taking care of miscellaneous administrative matters of group members are a
source of annoyance to their people. In contrast, those bosses who respond
promptly to administrative matters facing subordinates receive high marks and
support,” writes Durbin in his book. He suggests taking immediate action on the
• Performance appraisals and salary reviews
• Requests for personal days off
• Requests for transfers or early retirement
• Travel advances
• Requests for tuition reimbursement
• Authorization for parental leave
• Filing grievances against the company
• Processing of charges of sexual harassment
• Approval of expense account vouchers
Influencing others is an acquired skill that takes dedication, self-observation and
an understanding of social psychology to perform well. It may seem daunting;
however, when you get right down to it, it’s about common sense and respect for
others. Make them feel good and they’ll see things in a more positive way; your
“Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting
yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.” - Lao Tzu,
600 B.C. Chinese philosopher