Whether you are newly appointed or have been a manager for quite some time and are wanting to become more effective in your role, much of your success will depend on how well you communicate and interact with those whom you lead and serve.

Oftentimes, first-time managers underperform during their first two years in the position due to a lack of empowerment regarding how to lead their teams. It is assumed that their current valued skills and behaviours will also propel them forward in their new role as a manager or supervisor. Managers are often appointed because they are highly intelligent and skilled individuals who are well-liked by their peers and are also very familiar with the organisation’s procedures and processes. However, if they are not equipped to manage and achieve through others, they will not be successful in a managerial or supervisory role.

You might know what to do, and possibly even be the expert at doing it. However, to be successful as a manager, the real question is whether you are able to manage a team to deliver to the same or a higher standard, even when you are not looking.

Seth Godin, a well-known leadership guru, contends that, although generally labelled as a “soft skill”, interpersonal skills are essential for any manager to maximise their performance in their role and lead with authority. Broadly speaking, interpersonal skills relate to the way in which we communicate and interact with others, and in turn, help us to build meaningful relationships.

Some of the most important interpersonal skills that a manager should strive to develop and refine include building trust, emotional intelligence, empathy, vulnerability, and listening skills:

  • Trust between line managers and their team members is crucial. Even though they may already trust you as a team member, you now need to earn their trust as their manager who must inspire them and hold them accountable in a confident and fair manner. The new manager needs to know how to effectively deal with poor performance in a way that focuses on the behaviour, not on the person. Key to building the required trust that will enable you to do this is engaging your team in an authentic way as well as trusting them in turn.
  • When building trust relationships, emotionally intelligent managers understand the impact that their words, actions, and reactions have on those around them, leveraging this awareness to inspire team members rather than to discourage them.
  • Collaborating with others to achieve tasks lies at the heart of effective management, and practicing empathy and vulnerability in this process will help both the manager and their team members achieve success. Being vulnerable first by sharing your own emotions and making a genuine effort to understand the other person’s situation, goes a long way to build effective trust relationships.
  • Finally, all five of the above-mentioned skills start with the ability to listen well. Managers who display strong listening skills get much-needed buy-in from their team members, regarding decisions that have to be made, as they are able to discern what is important to them and to address these concerns appropriately.

In summary, stepping into a managerial or supervisory role requires building a different kind of relationship with your team – one that enables you to inspire, hold accountable and achieve results through others.

TowerStone’s Supervisor Development Programme empowers leaders with the essential tools they need to be more effective in their work environment by assisting them with leading their teams to achieve organisation-specific outcomes. Leaders are also familiarised with the essential conceptual and interpersonal skills to model and equip Brand Ambassadors.  The programme is presented at NQF Level 3 and 4.

About the author: Marcel Pretorius is a Business Relationship Manager at TowerStone Leadership Centre.