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Are you a Manager or a Leader?
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

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To a significant extent, a credit manager's value to their employer is measured in terms of the performance of those who work for them. To be a truly effective manager, you must be an effective leader. Leadership is the process of influencing your subordinates to accomplish specific goals and objectives by providing advice, direction, encouragement, feedback, motivation, support and training.

To be a good leader, you must:

  • Accept the blame when inadequate or improper training results in mistakes and other problems

  • Allow subordinates to participate in the decision making process

  • Be technically competent, but tolerant of employees who are not yet fully proficient at their jobs

  • Compliment in public, but criticize in private

  • Explain how to perform a particular task as well as the reason the job is necessary

  • Hold subordinates accountable for their actions or inaction. Remember that people tend to perform according to what is expected of them

  • Identify the relationship between the work performed by subordinates and the larger objectives of the department

  • Keep subordinates informed through regular discussions

  • Make your subordinates jobs as meaningful as possible

  • Never ridicule suggestions made by subordinates [doing so is the surest way to discourage creativity in problem solving

  • Provide challenging assignments

  • Refuse to step in too quickly when subordinates start to struggle with assignments

  • Set high but realistic goals for subordinates

  • Set an example for everyone to follow

  • Share the credit with subordinates when departmental goals are met or exceeded

  • Take responsibility for your actions

  • Work at developing a team approach to solving problems and achieving goals

  • Work to capitalize on the strengths of each of your subordinates

Traits of a Leader

Not all credit managers are leaders. A leader will possess the following traits:

Self-discipline, and
Superior communication and Interpersonal skills

Some credit managers take a hands off approach to personnel management - reasoning that once people are fully trained they do not need a manager looking over their shoulder and/or reminded of the importance of their work, or of the need to do the best job they can. The risks associated with too little supervision include:

- A perception that the credit manager does not care about the subordinates, and does not value their work or their accomplishments

- Misunderstandings and miscommunication,

- Poor coordination between and among the members of the department, and

- Poor performance for the department as a whole.

On the other hand, too much supervision tends to stifle creativity and initiative, and can be both de-motivating and demoralizing. One way to overcome this inherent problem is to disguise your instructions as suggestions. If your team members believe they have autonomy and authority over their work, you are likely to get better results than you would by giving orders.

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