Thinking critically is the primary competency of every manager. Almost all of a manager’s work falls into one of three areas: accomplishing tasks and goals, working with and through others, and adapting managerial style and behaviors. Justin Menkes identified seventeen skills that define Executive Intelligence (What All Great Leaders Have – 2005). Justin Menkes’ research showed that high performing managers consistently outperform their peers in the following critical thinking skills:

  • Appropriately define a problem and differentiate essential objectives from less relevant concerns.
  • Anticipate likely obstacles to achieving objectives and identify sensible means to circumvent them.
  • Critically examine the accuracy of underlying assumptions being relied on.
  • Articulate the strengths and weaknesses of the suggestions or arguments posed by others.
  • Recognize what’s known about an issue, what more needs to be known, and how best to obtain the relevant and accurate information that’s needed.
  • Use multiple perspectives to identify likely unintended consequences of various action plans.
  • Recognize the conclusions that can and cannot be drawn from a particular exchange with another.
  • Recognize the likely underlying agendas and motivations of individuals and groups involved in a situation.
  • Anticipate the likely emotional reactions of individuals to actions or communications.
  • Accurately identify the core issues and perspectives that are central to the conflict.
  • Appropriately consider the probable effects and likely unintended consequences that may result from taking a particular course of action.
  • Recognize and balance the different needs of all relevant stakeholders.
  • Pursue and encourage feedback that may reveal an error in judgment, then make appropriate adjustments.
  • Demonstrate an ability to recognize their own personal biases or limitations in perspectives and use this understanding to improve their own thinking and plans for action.
  • Recognize when serious flaws in their own ideas or actions require swift public acknowledgement of a mistake and a dramatic change in direction.
  • Appropriately articulate the essential flaws in the arguments of others and reiterate the strengths of their own position.
  • Recognize when it’s appropriate to resist the objections of others and remain committed to a sound course of action.
Accomplishing Tasks and Goals

Effective managers accomplish a wide range of tasks during the performance of their work. Here is a list of some of the most important task and goal accomplishments a manager can achieve: Increasing revenues or sales for the company. Saving money for the company. Saving time for the company. Number of problems identified and solved. Number of new ideas and innovations developed. Number of procedures or systems developed, implemented, or optimized. Number of special projects completed. Do they take charge and get things done? Are they taking organized actions? Do they use their authority objectively and fairly? Do they motivate and inspire others using optimism and self-confidence?

Working With and Through Others

Effective managers focus on what competencies different employees have. Then they leverage employee talents and contributions by getting out of the way. They build relationships with high-potential employees. They build trust by their actions, and what they do for others. They respect individual differences in values, work style and skills. They clarify their performance expectations and the outcomes or results they want. They change tactics and direction when they don’t get the results they want. They talk more about the good performance observed than the poor performance. Talking about what went wrong doesn’t change the results. Talking about what went right reinforces high performance. After every project is completed they facilitate a discussion about: What worked? What didn’t work? What should be done differently next time?

Adapting the Manager’s Style and Behavior

The inability to adapt is one of the most frequent reasons identified for career derailment or failure of managers. Managers need to be flexible in order to adapt to changing external pressures. They have to be able to adjust their management style to changing situations and groups. They need to accept and embrace change as a positive process. They will need to revise plans as needed. They will need to consider and address different stakeholder’s concerns during changes.

Effective Managers Can Be Developed

The first step in developing an effective manager is completing a Manager Performance Assessment. You can administer and score this 360 Degree Manager Effectiveness Performance Survey in your company for no cost. Once their strengths and growth opportunities are clear, the manager can work with a coach to develop action plans to improve their performance. When managers perform effectively, teams and organizations thrive. But when they don’t, businesses fail. You can also complete a Manager Performance Assessment by using the CheckPoint 360 Survey. This survey evaluates the effectiveness of your managers and it identifies areas for growth, resulting in an individual development plan. The CheckPoint 360 encourages effectiveness and performance that drives results from the top down. Contact us to get started today.

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