Five Ways to Develop Your Managerial Style
by Janet Richardson

Facing yourself in the mirror, may be the hardest endeavor you ever attempt. While it is sometimes easy to look at others and make value judgements, the task of judging our own actions can be difficult. Whether you are a new manager or have been supervising people for a number of years, it is still important to develop your unique managerial style.

A certain style can help define who you are and what you want to accomplish. After all, your entire job is the task of accomplishment. That is why you were chosen to lead people. Someone saw something of quality in you when they hired or promoted you to your position. The chances are you probably already have a managerial style of which you are not aware. Perhaps you don't have a style yet. Whatever the case, developing a style can establish you as a leader in your field. Establishing a style can help your visibility in the company. The more visible you are, the more people notice. Just as a person running for office needs to be recognized for positioning, so do you. As a manager, people are looking to you for answers. They respect the title as manager or supervisor, but that respect will soon vanish if you don't live up to the "expert" connotation. Visibility not only means that subordinates recognize and want to follow you, it also means that upper management will recognize you. This could mean more money in your pocket as well as a promotion in the near future. Here are five ways to help you develop your own unique leadership style.

Know Yourself
Limit setting and setting boundaries are two important factors for getting to know you. What are your tolerances? What are your prejudices? How can you recognize when someone is pushing your buttons? What can you do when someone or something is annoying and irritating you and you feel helpless? The first thing is to recognize that there is something you can do. You are not powerless over your own situation in life. You can take action.

Set limits for yourself. If you are working too long hours, you will not have the patience or tolerances that you need to be an effective manager. Your anxiety level will be higher than normal and this can be detrimental to relationships with co-workers. It is important to pace yourself and set guidelines for yourself. If you can't establish self-discipline and guidelines for yourself, how can you expect to set guidelines for others?

Personal space and office space, are two areas where boundaries must be established. If there are no boundaries set in the workplace, your department will end up in utter disaster. Chaos will abound and productivity will be low! People will sometimes take advantage of a situation where there are no rules. Society thrives on rules and regulations. So do businesses. Every organization must have order. Almost all businesses have a set of policies and procedures. It is your job as a manager to know what the policies are and to help enforce them. You must be informed and inform. Your employees need to know up front what the rules are. They also need to know what the consequences are for not following the rules. Don't wait until after an employee breaks a rule to administer a consequence. Be crystal clear in the beginning. This can help eliminate problems at a later date.

Policies and procedures are written boundaries that employees must follow, but what about unwritten rules and boundaries? It is up to you to know what your limits are and let your employees know them as well. Your employees are not mind readers. They don't know what annoys you and what does not. If you do not want to be interrupted between the hours of nine and noon, tell your employees! Post it on the door as hours of availability. Put it in a memo or a newsletter. Remember that it is up to you to inform others. Most people will adhere to and respect your wishes, if you will just be honest with them. It is when an employee is humiliated with a reprimand because he interrupted you at 10:00 a.m., that angers flare and hostilities arise. Especially when the boss in the next department, from which the employee has just been transferred, encouraged an "anytime" open door policy. This doesn't mean that you don't have an open door policy, it just means that you are setting boundaries with your open door management style.

You can apply this same application to other areas of annoyances of which you may be dealing. When you begin to apply this to the workplace, you will find that you will create an atmosphere of productivity. The point is, you can create your own environment by taking action.

Focus On Your Strengths
During an interview or on a job application, many times one is asked the question, " Why should I hire you?" This seems to pose a difficulty for many. The reason is because many people truly do not know their redeeming qualities. If you don't know, how are others supposed to know? If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will either. Take some time to think about what is good in your life. Jot those good things down. Then write down how you contribute to that goodness. If for example, you listed your child as a good thing in your life, write down the things that you do to help your child succeed. It may be as minute as driving your daughter or son to school in the morning. How can this contribute to his or her well-being for the rest of the day? Maybe he doesn't have to face that bully on the bus that Johnny does. As a result, he doesn't have to go to class angry as Johnny does. How could this contribute to his schoolwork and grades?

No matter how insignificant you think your contribution is, think again. What you do does make a difference. You were created for a purpose. It is up to you to define that purpose and then act on the talents that you have.

Decide How You Want Others to See You
How others view you, whether you want to admit it or not, does affect you. Others' opinion of you certainly matters to your organization, because you are a representative of your company. Stop and think of what reflection you want to portray. Close your eyes and mentally picture yourself leaning over a clear smooth pond of water on a bright sunny day. What do you see? Now imagine another person looking over your shoulder at the same reflection. Does he see the same image as you? Is it good or bad? If the answer is good, take another examination to double check. If it is not good, make a mental picture of how you want others to see you. If you want others to see a friendly person, yet you never smile, friendly is not likely the image that you will portray. You will have to act. Start smiling!

When you were a child, who was your hero? Why was that person your hero? What qualities did he/she possess that attracted you? What was the image that Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegal were trying to capture, when they created the comic hero Superman? Think about what others thought of Superman. What did others think about Clark Kent? Compare the two images the authors created. Even though Clark Kent and Superman were the same person, how did others view each personality? Did you know that Superman was first introduced as a villian? If the authors turned a villian into a Superhero, you can change your image too. You can be the author of your own personality. You are the only one that can!

Reframe Your Thinking
Once there was a young lady who cooked a ham at every Christmas. Every year the Christmas ham was prepared in the exact same fashion. The young lady would get her roasting pan, put in the ham and sprinkle the ham with spices such as cinnamon and brown sugar and honey. She would then cut both ends off the ham and place it carefully into her roasting pan and put it in the oven to bake.

One Christmas morning, the young lady's husband was excitedly watching his busy wife prepare the ham for the noon meal. Suddenly on a whim, the man said, "Honey, I understand everything about the process of the preparation of the ham except one thing. Why do you cut the ends off of the ham?" To which she quickly replied, " Because that is the way my mother taught me. I will call her and ask her why."

The young lady called her mother and asked the question, " Mother, why do you cut the ends off the Christmas ham?" To which the mother replied, " Because my mother did. I have always prepared it that way. I will call Grams and ask her."

The mother called her mother, Grams and asked, " Grams why do we cut the ends off the Christmas ham?" To which Grams replied, " I don't know why you girls do, but I do it because my pan is too small for the ham."

Do you do things a certain way just because it has always been done that way? If you do, it is time to reframe your thinking. You can change the way you think. If you use words at work like I should, or I must, you need to change your thinking. Those words imply guilt and expectations of others. If you use words such as I want to, then your thinking is on the right track. Your managerial style needs to be your own, not some ancient ritual.

Everyone has some creativity to his/her thinking. Even analytical thinkers or left brain thinkers, have some creativity. Use that creativity to dare to take a risk or make a change. Change is stressful, but change is inevitable. If you are not willing to change, you will certainly fall short of being seen as a high priority manager. People take notice of the different and even the bizzare. Don't be afraid to develop your own ways of doing a task or a project. Ask others for input. Sometimes your employees have wonderful ideas, but no one is willing to listen. Be that someone who is different enough to listen and implement others' ideas. You can make a difference in an organization. That difference may be enough to land you a promotion or a healthy bonus.

Burn a Little Midnight Oil
My mother used to say, " If you want to get ahead, sometimes you have to burn a little midnight oil." Obviously, she at one time in her life, read by a kerosene lamp. My mother is not one of the hardest working women I have ever met, she is the hardest working woman I know. That theory took her into an upper management position with AT & T. She was never afraid to go that extra mile at work or home. If someone needed her to work extra, she never said, " Oh excuse me, that is not in my job description." She simply and quietly did the task. She didn't boast about her work. She merely got the job done.

Do you go above and beyond what is expected? Are you the kind of person who focuses on the task at hand and does whatever it takes to accomplish the goal? Goal setters are willing to go the distance. Make it a personal goal to go the extra mile. Sometimes one has to push oneself. Set personal goals and then make a decision to do the work.

Is your managerial style one of slouchy disorganization? Is is the epitome of laziness, or do you have a creative, innovative, firm and confident management style? Do others want you to lead them? What reflection of you do others see? What is unique about you? Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses? How well do you know yourself? Who are you and what is your managerial style?

If you examine yourself and follow these five guidelines, you can be on your way to developing a managerial style that's right for you.

Janet Richardson, MS. MS. LPC., NBCC
CEO/JRC. & Co. A Management Consultant Co.
1831 E. 71st Street #435 Tulsa, Ok. 74136
Janet Richardson is a member of NSA and manages Employee Assistance Programs for organizations. She also conducts training seminars. She can be reached at 405-641-0676 or 918-877-2656 or at

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Copyright 2001 by Janet Richardson. All rights reserved.

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