This article was based on episode 100 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Stitcher. Get the mini-guide here or the full guide when you become a member at mamieks.com/join. Purchase a single full guide at mamieks.com/store.
The role of a manager has changed over the past century. These changes have been influenced by work becoming more complex, teams becoming more disbursed, and society gaining a greater appreciation for all of humanity.
So what makes for a great manager today? Here are seven mindsets that separate a modern manager from a traditional one.
Number 1: A traditional manager thinks about himself. A modern manager thinks about his team.
The self-preservation instinct is real, but a modern manager looks past their selfish first instinct and considers what’s best for their team. They do this by:
Putting aside their own needs to explore the needs of others.
Asks for input and listens to their team members.
Appreciates diversity and finds value in seeking out people and ideas different from them.
Embodies the phrase, “there is no ‘I’ in team.”
Number 2: A traditional manager solves problems. A modern manager helps others solve their own problems.
In the past, a great boss had all the answers. It was their job to make problems go away so the project could move forward and the work could get done.
A modern manager knows that it’s impossible to have all the answers. They’re willing to be vulnerable and admit when they don’t know. They see success not only as the problem being solved as fast as possible but also consider how it was solved. A modern manager will:
Ask questions to help others find the answer, even if they could simply share it.
Avoids swooping in to save the day or put out fires by instead helping their team members handle their own issues.
Advises and coaches others but doesn’t do the work for them.
Number 3: A traditional manager focuses on performance. A modern manager focuses on growth.
Everyone cares about performance, as we all should. But if you focus only on goals, timelines and budgets, you may quickly discover your team members are burning out or losing motivation. On the other hand, when people learn, gain new skills, or broaden their experience, they become better employees, not worse.
A modern manager sees growth as an equally important measure of success. This means:
Failure is viewed as a learning opportunity.
Resources are spent on individual development.
Feedback is a regular part of communications.
There is space for reflection.
Number 4: A traditional manager designs the sand castle. A modern manager builds the sandbox.
Gone are the days of command and control management. Instead, a modern manager sets up the parameters for success and gives their team members the freedom to work within those boundaries, often in partnership.
To build a solid sandbox, a manager will:
Believe in their people, even when those individuals are self-doubting.
Provide clear vision, context, and support when delegating work.
Celebrate when others do great work.
Encourage team members to follow their passions, take on challenges, and take risks.
Number 5: A traditional manager does their job. A modern manager does what’s needed.
Managers have a laundry list of job responsibilities they must fulfill. A traditional manager views their role as a job. They hire and fire, hold performance reviews, run meetings.
But a modern manager approaches their work by seeing the bigger picture. They do this by:
Making tough decisions and acting with integrity.
Stepping outside their comfort zone, role modeling taking risks and being vulnerable.
Considering what’s best for all the stakeholders involved.
Number 6: A traditional manager invests in her career. A modern manager invests in herself.
Promotions, career advancement, and the next big opportunity are (reasonably) on most manager’s minds. But this thinking alone can lead to burnout, limited learning, and unhealthy competition.
A modern manager makes choices that also reflect what is needed to be strong in the short term. This includes:
Taking vacation days and spending time recharging each day/week.
Getting enough sleep.
Asking for feedback, learning and growing your skills, knowledge, competencies and relationships.
Number 7: A traditional manager runs on autopilot. A modern manager acts intentionally with logic and love.
Some studies suggest that 80% of daily behaviors are habits. Most managers think and act according to their default, often letting their emotions take over or following their initial instincts.
A modern manager is intentional about how they show up. They’re thoughtful about balancing what is rational with what is best for humans, not letting either tendency take over. For example:
They invest in relationships with each of their team members.
They don’t let a bad day impact how they treat their colleagues.
They look for win-win or practical solutions.
A modern manager actively tries to be a great manager. They build intentional habits that enable them and their team members to thrive while accomplishing big things.
Get the mini-guide here or the full guide when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at mamieks.com/join. Or, purchase an individual guide at mamieks.com/store to help you implement the learnings and continue to enhance your rockstar manager skills.
This article was based on episode 100 The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.