The modern business environment demands all-round leadership, but what does that mean for your communication and influencing skills?
As middle management, you are supposed to be a jack of all trades, an all-rounder. You are continuously asked to switch between guiding and following; you need to both lead and support your people; and you must engage in relationship management as well as achieve results and goals. So what does this mean for your communication and influencing skills?
Well, it means that you need to switch between being a facilitator and a process monitor; and that you should be a receptive listener but also keep an eye out for quality. Let’s look at this in more detail to examine the implications of all-round leadership for your daily operations and influencing skills.
Nowadays, constructive dialogue is high on the agenda. Constructive dialogue is where you energize and excite people about your vision and/or the vision of your organization. This is where you lay the foundation for a project and pass the ball to others. As the facilitator, you are expected to get your employees to interact with each other, to engage the quieter members of your team and to motivate people to contribute.
Vital influencing skills for a successful facilitator: to inspire, to coach, to connect.
The process monitor
As the process monitor, it’s your job to set a clear framework for a project. You make sure that the playing field for employees is clear and that the conditions of the playing field are firmly understood. Furthermore, your own position should be clear and you should be able to maintain the boundaries of your role. Correcting people who are out of step is part of this.
Vital influencing skills for a successful process monitor: to direct process, to instruct and to convince.
The receptive listener
The roles mentioned above both fall under the guiding leadership style. However, being an all-round leader means you also have to cultivate your reactive or following skills. Therefore, it is your job to be a receptive listener. You need to ensure that people feel heard and are able to take the stage to share their experiences, ideas and wishes. The emphasis here is on adopting a flexible attitude: you must move with and respond to what others put forth. You must also put yourself in the shoes of the different stakeholders that you have to deal with (now and in the future).
Vital influencing skills for a successful receptive listener: to be compassionate, to move with the flow and to provide space.
The quality monitor
Last but not least, as the person with primary responsibility for a project, you are expected to continually review the process with a critical eye and put the brakes on when you notice that decisions are being rushed. It’s also important that you ensure that everyone stays in the game. You will have a better chance of success if you regularly check that you and your employees are on the same page. Furthermore, you will sometimes need to get your hands dirty in those moments when your team is understaffed or when everybody needs to give a little extra to meet a deadline.
Vital influencing skills for a successful quality monitor: to offer a counterbalance, to explicate projects and to follow up on tasks.
A little bit of everything
The above covers a range of communication and influencing skills, which represent the various influencing styles in the ‘Sphere of Influence’ model. Does this mean that you have to excel in all influencing styles? No! In fact, it means the opposite. Looking at all middle management profiles in the database, what stands out is that middle managers are jacks of all trades and they do a huge range of tasks. An all-round leader may not be an expert in all things, but they need to be able to do a little bit of everything!
If you want to learn what this could practically mean for you. Explore what our Leadership development practice can offer.
Nicolien Dellensen, Senior Consultant and behavioral specialist, contributes to Time To Grow Globals organizational performance and coaching practice. She’s creator and owner of the ’Sphere of Influence’ a comprehensive concept and (360) online tool about interactive dynamics. Join us on our Time To Grow Global LinkedIn.