Recent research by Forum into growing companies and high-performing managers shows that there are eight areas in which top managers out-perform their on-par peers.
According to the research, top leaders:
- Successfully manage organizational dilemmas as well as their personal energy to maintain focus on clear goals at times of upheaval. By contrast, their on-par managerial colleagues struggle with competing and changing priorities, and burn out in environments of uncertainty and ambiguity.
- Assign clear roles and accountability, enabling employees to understand their jobs and giving them the power to get them done. On-par managers speak without specificity, providing vague mandates with little decision-making authority.
- Challenge the current state of affairs when necessary in order to ensure the organization stays on track and achieves its goals. On-par managers accept the status quo, even if policies and processes get in the way of growth.
- Establish a climate in which employees are confident to act on ideas, and feel like they are important to the organization's success. On-par managers fail to provide recognition and connection, discouraging employee loyalty and 'above and beyond' behavior.
- Make the organization more responsive and agile by incorporating non-traditional, non-hierarchical, networked, and flexible management processes and structures. On-par managers, by contrast, overplay the authority card, relying solely on a traditional command-and-control approach that limits the organization's responsiveness to critical new opportunities in uncertain times.
- Manage the dilemmas presented by fluid situations by adjusting plans in response to changes while staying focused on overall strategic intent. On-par managers forget to flex, staying set in their plans and ignoring changing market conditions.
- Actively encourage experimentation to drive learning -- even in a down economy -- and recognize that experimentation and innovation will include failures. On-par managers inhibit innovation, failing to distinguish between poor performance and appropriate risk-taking and innovation.
- Have a profound curiosity about their customers and the markets in which they compete, not only understanding their customers' needs but also realizing which are being met and which are not. On-par managers fail to cultivate customers, neither understanding, nor seeking to understand, their customers' needs.