What competencies do managers need today?

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What competencies do managers need today?

It's not necessarily that the world is getting simpler. Both employees and managers are experiencing increasing complexity. And many a boss has the feeling that many a challenge can no longer be met with classic leadership methods. That's why it's time for managers to take a look at themselves: Which competencies are really important today?

"Congratulations on passing your exam!" appears on the large monitor in the waiting room - along with a photo of a young woman in a white coat and her name. "Welcome to our team as a dental assistant!" The woman from the photo walks in and calls you up. And you think: How much do we actually appreciate good people in our company?

The dentist's office I mentioned really exists. And it's popular. Why is it popular? For several reasons: First, the three female dentists are top-notch professionally - you'll experience that for yourself and it shows in the reviews. And then the patients also like the way the boss treats her staff. Whether at the reception desk or in the treatment room, there is a consistently polite and friendly style.

Appreciation comes from within

A workplace where people can feel good is one of the best prerequisites for ensuring that employees are motivated. If you also value your employees and acknowledge them in front of others, you are doing a lot right. It means putting the people in the team first and putting yourself in the background as a manager.

At the same time, some companies seem to understand "feel good" differently than most employees. You know when bosses wrap the external conditions in a feel-good cloud, but not the internal ones? So: there's suddenly a foosball table, the dress code gets looser, and there are free drinks for everyone. But a real honest-to-goodness friendliness and humanity is still missing. Do you know this?

This is something leaders can learn from dental practice: Appreciation comes from within. It shows itself in the form of free drinks, sure. But it is a mistake to believe that as a manager you only have to provide free drinks and the employees will automatically feel appreciated and valued. They then just think: Ah, now there are free drinks. Does the boss have a guilty conscience?

Empathy as the basis for all human interaction

The basic skill for appreciating employees the way the dental office does is empathy. The Greek foreign word means something like "compassion" or "empathy". It is not first and foremost about comforting others when they are unwell, but rather the ability to take the perspective of others. And thus to see the world - and the workplace - through their eyes.

For example, if an employee experiences a bereavement in the family, an empathetic boss not only expresses sympathy, but also offers help. "I understand your situation, I can relate. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. If you would prefer to stay home for a few days, then of course you may."

True empathy often shows itself in concrete help rather than only in a possibly emotionally acted sympathy.

Finding the right motivators

Building on empathy, it is then a matter of finding the right motivators. The literature is full of models for this: extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation (i.e. motivation from outside or from within), positive versus negative motivation (i.e. "towards" or "away from") - all of these models are valid and useful. And yet every manager is challenged to find out what specifically they can use to motivate whom. This is not about extra sausages, but about knowing people: good managers know that one person can be motivated by praise in front of the group, while another may be more motivated by a particularly challenging task.

Avoid and resolve conflicts

Then dealing with conflicts is essential. No team or company should be able to get along without conflicts. Therefore belongs Conflict Management is one of the elementary skills of every manager. However, conflicts are like toothaches: if you have them, you probably haven't done your homework beforehand. Good conflict management also means avoiding conflicts.

And you can do that - by knowing, through your empathy, which Needs and viewpoints that people on your team have, and by being responsive to them. Of course, you don't have to tolerate abstruse special requests. In a professional business environment, it is usually possible to reconcile different interests.

However, if a conflict arises, it is a matter of mediating between the positions - and here it already becomes apparent that classic leadership qualities are sometimes no longer sufficient. Coaching know-how is more in demand here, i.e. moderating from an external perspective and the ability to let the disputants solve the conflict themselves.

Let go, let go, let go

And that is the fine art. Don't own a conflict, and don't own either point of view. You may have a clear opinion on the conflict, but it's always about keeping the team together. If you judge like a court in favor of one side or the other, the conflict may continue to smolder subliminally. So coaching know-how here means, for example, letting go of the conflict and influencing both parties in such a way that they settle the conflict in the sense of the matter.

Letting go is an important aspect anyway. When a task is delegated - or even better the responsibility for a result - as a manager you simply let go and trust your employee to decide and act correctly. Of course, as the boss, you are ultimately responsible for the success of your team projects. But that doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself. And now we've come full circle: If you're truly empathetic and understand the people around you - which is where coaching knowledge helps you - then you're also more likely to make the right decisions when it comes to the Delegate.

Conclusion: Get to know people!

Let's draw a conclusion: Leadership today means, above all, being responsive to people. This is important so that a Team work successfully and, in general, for a company to attract good people. To do this, it is necessary to know people, in other words, to understand them. Particularly in more complex professions, for example, employees today are looking above all for meaning - or rather: inspiring workplaces. This has to be accepted. Good managers therefore also open themselves up to coaching skills, which they can use to retain good people. The basis for everything is empathy - in short: understanding what makes others tick.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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