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Teamhacking 101: Tips for New Managers from the Best Books on Leadership

A new job in management means lots of new responsibilities
by Conor O'Rourke | Sep 7 2015

We at Blinkist Magazine want to make it easier for you, so we’ve sifted through the Blinkist vaults to create a two-part series of the best management advice out there.


So you finally got that promotion you’ve been angling for! Those long years of diligent work, late nights at the office, and deferred vacations have finally paid off: you’re Mr. Manager now.

Now what?

A new promotion can be daunting. New responsibilities, new tasks, people working under you—there’s a lot to take on. That’s why we at Blinkist Magazine wanted to help you out. We went through Blinkist’s entire library of books-in-blinks to collect the most influential ideas from the best books on leadership for new managers.

And there’s good news: it turned out that there were a lot, so we’ve combined the best lessons from these books into a two-part series of great tips to help you hit the ground running in your new position and be the most effective manager you can be. Read on for part one, and we’ll be back to you in a week with the second installment.

On making a killer presentation:

1. To get an audience’s attention, tell them what’s in it for them.

From The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo

Learn this rule: every communiqué you craft should always answer the one key question every recipient is thinking: “Why should I care?”

So go ahead and answer: they should care because you are giving them a solution to their problems.

In order to offer a solution, you must first introduce the problem, the villain of your story: Describe a situation where people are frustrated by the lack of a product like yours (or by a lackluster competing product). Use tangible details and really build the pain in your audience’s mind.

Now it is time for your product or idea, also known as the hero, to meet the challenge and slay the villain. In plain English, without jargon or buzzwords, explain how your product solves the audience’s problem. This should be the one main thing your audience will remember from your presentation, so mention it at least twice.

What you are truly selling is the promise of a better life, free of the problems you have vividly painted.

Take it to work: Start by identifying the villain in your customer’s landscape. How would you then characterize your product, or, the hero? And don’t forget to inject a little passion when you describe the two! When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, he first described the audience’s problem, listing the various existing expensive and cumbersome ways of listening to music on the move, like the famously bulky portable CD-player. Then he revealed the hero: the iPod, which for the first time allowed people to hold their entire music libraries in their pockets. Steve Jobs was passionate about the problems his products could solve and passion is the one quality all inspiring communicators have in common.

On being more productive:

2. Instead of keeping a daily to-do list, try a calendar and “Next Actions” lists.

From Getting Things Done by David Allen

Daily to-do lists are inefficient, imprecise, and often facilitate a warped view of time. A far more effective method is to work with a calendar and one or multiple “Next Actions” lists. The calendar serves only one purpose: to keep track of appointments. You should treat it as a holy territory that provides a fixed structure for planning the rest of your activities. Anything bound to a certain day or hour—a meeting or a doctor’s appointment, for example—should be on it.

All other tasks or concrete actions should be put onto your “Next Actions” list. This list lets you decide quickly which task is the most urgent whenever you have time to take care of something.

Take it to work: When it’s time to choose what to work on next, ask yourself:

  • Which task can I accomplish in my current situation?
  • Which task can I finish in the time available?
  • Which task do I have enough energy for at the moment?
  • Which has the highest priority?

By using these metrics, you’ll be able to quickly and efficiently prioritize your tasks as well as your appointments and personal obligations.

On leading teamwork:

3. Encourage energizing interactions among your team for a more creative organization. 

From How to Be a Positive Leader
by Jane E. Dutton and Gretchen M. Spreitzer

We humans are social animals: we blossom when we have lots of positive interactions with our friends, family members, and colleagues. When we feel good, we’re at our most creative and energetic. Specifically, we thrive when we have lots of high-quality connections: interactions that leave all participants with boosted energy levels and enthusiasm.

Companies need to do all they can to foster these kinds of interactions, because a creative and energetic staff quite often translates into a real competitive advantage. Employees with many high-quality connections are more creative and motivated to learn new things, both of which are important for companies trying to come up with innovative strategies.

Furthermore, you as a leader can demonstrate that you respect and value your employees. This means paying close attention to what employees say and being positive and receptive when they voice their opinions.

Take it to work:
Build trust and rapport with your employees by doing one simple thing: pay attention. Turn off your phone and move away from your computer when they speak to you to show that you’re giving them your full and complete attention. If your goal is to build and nurture a team feeling amongst employees, one way to do it is encouraging them to play games. This could mean organizing a team-building activity, like orienteering, or having equipment like ping-pong tables, chess boards and basketball hoops at the workplace.

On personnel development:

4. Cultivate positive identities in your employees with the GIVE model.

From How to Be a Positive Leader by Jane E. Dutton and Gretchen M. Spreitzer

When do you do your best work? For most people, the answer would be: “When I feel good about myself.” This is known as positive identity: when people feel happier and more focused, they do better work.

One framework that explains positive identity is the GIVE model, which has four elements:

Growth: people tend to feel better about themselves when they sense they’re growing—for example, by learning new skills. They feel better when they feel they are growing professionally.

Integration: people develop a positive identity when they can make the different parts of their lives—their work life, family and hobbies—fit together harmoniously.

Virtuousness: a natural component of a positive identity. To consider themselves virtuous, people must feel that they have qualities like integrity and humility, and their actions facilitate this. For example, research indicates that when employees donate to their company’s employee support program, they tend to see themselves as more helpful, caring and benevolent.

Esteem: people want to feel that their personality is appreciated and valued by those around them.

Take it to work: A simple way that you as a leader can help your employees enhance their positive identities is by encouraging them to leverage their strengths and virtues at work. How exactly do you do that? We’ve got a bonus tip below to help with just that!

BONUS EXERCISE: Use reflected best-self exercises to help people discover their character strengths and talents.

From How to Be a Positive Leader by Jane E. Dutton and Gretchen M. Spreitzer

Here’s an exercise you can do with your employees to improve their positive self image. Start by asking the employee to gather stories from friends and family about situations where they felt that person was at their best.

Next, the employee can analyze these stories to find common positive themes. This will help them to develop a better understanding of their strengths, which they can then unleash at work.

Take it to work: For example, if an employee finds one of their strengths is empathy, the leader should try to create situations where this can be put to use—maybe something like asking him to mediate between other quarreling employees.

For an employee, being able to make best use of their intrinsic skills like this helps them develop and maintain a positive identity.

Want more? You got it! Look for part II of our best tips for new managers next week, or explore our other favorite books on leadership at Blinkist.

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