What Distinguishes a High Potential Manager? Statistics Speak!

by Alexander Wollboldt 02/02/2018

As a business coach and consultant, organizational leaders ask me often about how to deal with managers, especially those who are fairly young and inexperienced. My regular reply to this is a counter question: “What makes your organization select a particular person for the position of manager in the first place?” We can read a lot about the role of a high performance manager including his or her roles and styles. There are tons of books and articles with pointers out there. But reality shows that most of the managers today get promoted into their roles because of their performance in a previous role as a specialist. Not because someone identified them as suitable managers based on their managerial talents.

 

So what makes you a good manager?  

 

The main tasks of a manager

Typically a manager’s main job evolve around the questions on how to select the right people for a specific task and how to help them perform in it. Supposedly, this would be the right answer of most of us including your career guidance counselor, when being asked about the manager’s function. So if all managers would fulfill their job as pointed out above then there would be a good basis of high performing individuals in all organizations around the globe, right?

Recent studies by Gallup revealed, however, that only 13% of employees worldwide are fully engaged at work. It was further pointed out that this result is highly influenced by the employees’ managers. No need to be much into career counseling for experienced professionals or related areas in order to conclude that seemingly most managers probably don’t make enough efforts or simply don’t know how to create a task specific fit for their team members and help them to perform and reach their goals effectively. With this, the statement that employees leave their jobs not because of the organization but because of their managers gets a much deeper perspective that it is worth looking into.

The managerial talents

When Gallup discovered the relevance of the manager’s role towards having high scores in employee engagement, they looked into behavioral patterns that seem to be highly influential to find an answer to the question what makes you a good manager. They came up with the definition of five attributes of a high performance manager that they named as “managerial talents”. Whereas their research showed that less than 20% had an overall permanent successful track record of managerial talents resulting in high performance team results, another two out of ten managers at least were identified to possess basics of the skill set that could be developed into a high performance level through coaching and training.

Let’s look into what attributes or managerial talents Gallup identified:

 

#1 – Relationship Building

In order to be able to coach any individual effectively, the manager needs to be able to build relationships among his or her team and other stakeholders. Once a relationship is established based on trust, the door will be open for exploring deeper the aspirations and goals of the individual team members to be managed.

 

#2 – Motivation

Once goals and objectives are clearly communicated and committed by the team, the manager’s task is not only to remove obstacles but also to keep each single team member moving forward. Gather all the team to eat pizza or award the best employee in an organized event, might not always meet the individual preferences or needs when it comes to getting praises by the bosses. Each one of us appreciates a very much customized form of recognition, be it a one-on-one coffee meeting with the manager or a staged awarding in front of the organization. The best way to gauge if someone is considered to be a motivational manager is to ask his or her team members.

 

#3 – Assertiveness

Managers can appear to their team as “all over the place” especially in times of big unexpected changes. Managers with high assertiveness don’t get easily rattled by changes. Their deep understanding of what needs to be done to contribute to the organization is not only obvious to the team that surrounds him/ her but it shows in the whole team’s agility an ability to transform when facing new challenges.

 

#4 – Decision Making

Decisions in a corporate set up need to be relatable to the relevance, in terms of organizational goal and productivity. At the same time the executing team needs to understand how they can contribute to the governing rules of the game. If the manager does decisions that are not aligned with those organizational goals and/or at the same time does not understand how to maximize the potential of his or her outs co-workers, it will be unlikely that those decision will lead to sustainable growth, innovation and profits.

 

#5 – Accountability

Is the manager at any time able to step up and presume accountability for any of his or her projects? Can he or she say the same with the same confidence about his/her team members assigned to their respective task? What makes you a good manager who is able to build the confidence and understanding that even though there is no direct control within certain tasks his/ her co-workers perform in the interest of both the whole team and the organization?

If you as a manager were able to make a check mark behind each one of those five managerial talents and if you are able to say “yes that’s me!”, then chances are high that you understand and execute the job of a manager in a way that it contributes significantly to a high employee engagement level in your organisation, leading to high productivity, profit and growth.

Alex Wollboldt is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), – Consultant (CMC) and Gallup Strengths Coach and has a decade of corporate professional history as Finance Head and Director in manufacturing and service industries in different locations such as Germany, Japan and the Philippines. He is a founding partner at Wissen Solomon, a business consultancy that provides businesses through consulting and coaching expertise in the area of digitization, marketing, finance, operations and organizational development. Alex also acts as co-director for OSG Global Consultancy taking care of various areas involving private equity investments, financial advisory, M&A mostly in the Philippines and other South East Asian countries.

Alexander Wollboldt

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