A Kinder, Gentler Supervising Style

It takes balance--not brawn--to manage a winning team

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Do you lead with an iron fist? Do you cut off employees in mid-sentence and threaten to have them replaced if they don’t give in to your point of view? Do you denigrate your colleagues in front of others and insist on having the last word on everything? Whether you’re a project manager or the chief executive officer, you may be hampering the productivity of your business or company.

You may think people respect you when, in fact, they fear you. Further, if they feel coerced into doing their jobs, they may end up resenting you and their work. The end result? Mediocre performance for the entire organization. The following suggestions can help you change your thinking and soften your edge:

  • Become a team player. Even though you’re the “coach,” try thinking like a teammate. “When you see yourself as a member of a team of equal players, you’ll be less likely to discount others’ points of view,” says Torri Brown-Clark, president of Competitive Edge Inc. in Flossmoor, Illinois. “This will help you move away from a rigid, hierarchical style of management.”
  • Get educated. Bullying in the workplace often stems from insecurity, lack of training or visible role models. Take some professional management courses and seminars-they will boost your self-esteem as well as your expertise. “Even better, find a supervisor held in high regard by his or her staff and take that person on as your mentor,” says Clark.
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated. You can get your point across and direct your team without resorting to dictatorial tactics. Watch your tone of voice and body language when you speak to others. Listen to your staff and take their opinions into genuine consideration when making decisions that concern them. “Above all,” says Clark, “make a conscious effort to be respectful. You won’t get it unless you give it.”
  • Take stress breaks. You are more apt to lash out at those around you when you’re mentally exhausted. Take a breather when necessary.