WANT TO BE A BETTER MANAGER? KEEP THESE 3 THINGS IN MIND

Being a boss babe leader and managing others is not easy.  I remember when I was first starting off as a manager, and I had to make my first hires.

I overthought everything.  

I did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but at the same time, I wanted to get the most out of the people I hired. 

Here are three basic statements I kept in mind when reflecting on my ability to engage and mobilize anyone working with me.  

They are useful to think about whether you manage one intern or twenty individuals.


1. Understand the goals and aspirations of each member of your team.

I used to think that I had to approach each member of my team the same.  I would provide them the same information and respond to them in similar ways, expecting the same output from each. It did not get me very far.  

Each person needs to be treated as an individual. Understanding how each member of your team ticks will help you get the most out of them.

If you know how to acknowledge and recognize each member, you will know how best to motivate and communicate with them.  

With just a bit of work and understanding, you can get a lot more out of a team member, because you will be speaking their language. No two people are motivated the same way, so you cannot always expect the same result from different individuals.

If you are an employee…

  • Tell your manager what motivates you.
  • Tell them what you want to get out of your experience working with them and how you prefer to be approached.
  • If you are confused about your role or objectives, ask or show them what you think they should be.

They might not always listen, but you can at least demonstrate how self-aware you are. Some managers will appreciate it.

Those who don’t probably shouldn’t be managers.

2. Each member of your team knows what you expect, and where they are in terms of performance

I was notorious and continued to have issues with communicating what I want from others.  Even when we think we have done an excellent job, we usually have not.

Making sure each member of your team understands their place (even if it changes monthly) is key to making sure you are getting the most out of them.  

They should be getting feedback from you regularly, and you should periodically inquire about making sure they are on the right track.

If they are not, its either you haven’t done an excellent job being explicit or the role does not suit them.

If you are an employee and your company has a formal performance review process, nothing your manager says during the performance review process should come as a surprise.

  • Ask for regular feedback and make sure you get clarity if you are confused.
  • Send your manager an email with what you discussed, even if its feedback, to make sure you both are on the same page.

3. You actively act on advice and feedback on how you come across to your team, and how you can be a more motivating leader

No one is perfect but spending a few hours a week on seeking and receiving feedback can make you a more effective leader.  

You can ask for input in various ways: informally at group meetings or formally through surveys. Take some time to read about different approaches to leadership and reflect on who you admire as a manager.

Write down the traits and feedback you want to embody and try them out. Want to check how you are doing? Continue to ask for feedback over time.

If you are an employee…

  • Ask your manager if you can give them constructive feedback.  
  • Think about what you can learn from your manager and make the best of the situation.
  • If there is something that doesn’t sit well with you, keep it in mind for when you have a chance to manage others.

How can you use these statements to make a change or move forward?

With each element, try to rate yourself.  I would suggest on a scale from 1 to 10. 1 meaning disagree strongly and 10, strongly agree.

Ask your teammates for feedback to help you decide where you stand.

For the statements you rate less than 5, you might want to spend some time thinking through how to bridge the gap.  You can start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Where do you want to be?
  • What is the first thing you can do to make progress in that particular element?

That one small step you take can help you get closer to the leader you want to be and get even more out of your team.


This month of July, we’re telling stories about boss ladies breaking boundaries, and how you also can hit your #BossLadyGoals. Got a boss lady story to share with us? Click here.

10 things nobody tells you when you’re a new manager

I thought I was ready when I took on my first ‘official’ management role as a performance manager. I had technical ability (I’d undertaken a good deal of additional, unpaid supervisory work, under the guise of ‘development opportunities’ prior to that) and I had a professional attitude so I thought I was good to go.

Ha! Boy, did I get that wrong. The main difficulty was that I didn’t know the difference between leadership and management.

If you’re a new manager, some of the lessons that I and countless other leaders have learnt (and I’ll be learning as long as I’m still here) will, hopefully, help you to transition into a management and leadership role in a more authentic way.

Prioritise being the leader your team needs, rather than doing everything perfectly

Chances are you’re a conscientious woman with high standards so you don’t need to stress about being seen to be doing a good job; that’s a given. It’s better to work out what your team needs from you than to focus on ticking every box.

Spend time with your new colleagues, get to know them and find out what they need most from you, whilst you learn more about the role.

If change is needed, find a way of working that works for you and your team

You’ll need to develop the confidence to challenge the status quo, which takes guts, especially if you’re managing a group of people you only just met, or you’re new to the organisation.

Overstand your values

Yes, I said overstand. It’s one thing to be aware of your own values; it’s quite another to understand how your values serve you and influence the way in which you lead. The best leaders have a high level of self-awareness.

Check out this article for more on understanding your values. If you’re not already, spend time getting get clear on your values.

Start reflecting

There will be days when you feel more like an infant school teacher than a manager and there’ll be days when you feel on top of the world because things are going so well. Spend time reflecting on your day or week and ask yourself what you did that was good and should be repeated and what wasn’t so good.

How can you do things differently next time? Reflecting like this helps to improve your practice as a leader and is a pretty good de-stresser, too!

Don’t try to switch up your persona

Pretending to be someone you’re not is hard work and tiring. If you’re not a suit kinda person, don’t go for a power suit, just because you’re now in a leadership role.

If you’re a soft-natured person, don’t try to come across as hard-nosed. People will see straight through you and inconsistencies in the way you treat and lead will cause others to doubt your credibility. Do you, boo.

Don’t be afraid to be a bit vulnerable

Exercise wisdom, of course (this ain’t therapy!) but being honest about things you’re not sure of can help your new team to connect with you as another human being and see you as more than just ‘the new boss.’

If they can see that you’re ok with your imperfections and limitations, they can relate to you and come alongside you far quicker. It’s also freeing for you to release the pressure that striving for perfection creates.

Just because you’re the manager, doesn’t mean that you should, or will have, all the answers

It’s not your job to know everything, it’s your job to facilitate your team in coming up with solutions and support staff so that they can do their job.

You will make mistakes

Get comfortable with the fact that things won’t always go to plan and that’s ok. You’ll learn for the next time.

Being liked as a manager is underrated

Yes, it’s true that staff need to respect you but being respected and being liked don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It’s a lot easier and more enjoyable for everyone when you’re likeable.

Boy, is leadership great for your growth!

Try not to compartmentalise your learning. Growth is growth so be intentional in transferring the development in your professional life to your personal development.

A year from now, you’ll have grown immensely through your experiences so soak it up, my dear!

What’s your experience been? What do you wish you’d been told earlier on? Let me know in the comments below.

Kalinè: You don’t need the ideal situation before you do something with your talent

Kaline Official - 1

Singer, pianist, composer and producer – Kalinè is an artist of many talents. The Berklee College of Music graduate inspires her fans through her genuine and unique lyrical style while navigating the Nigerian musical industry as an independent artist. After getting her start in the industry ten years ago, she has remained a self-managed artist who believes that the beauty of not being on a label or represented has given her the power to make decisions about her musical career—what she wants to do and how she wants to do it—all of which have molded her as the artist that she is today.

She Leads Africa spoke with Kalinè about her journey as an artist and entrepreneur and why honesty is her favorite form of inspiration.


You published a piece on your blog Self-Managed- 9 Reasons why you should be your biggest cheerleader. Why did you decide to self-manage as opposed to hiring someone to do it for you?

The ideal situation would be to have a support system in a formal way, or to have a team. However, I got to a point where I was looking for people, as opposed to being found. It is a lot better to be found by a manager as opposed to looking for one or paying for one. This is because they are coming on board knowing exactly what you want to do and they have a passion for what you are doing.

I’ve learned to be discerning about who I want on my team as well. I have come into my own, and embraced the challenge that a self managed artist has and I try to use that to encourage others by saying, you don’t have to have the ideal situation before you do something with your career or talent. That is how the self-mantra was formed; by embracing it and seeing the beauty in it—until the right person approaches me.

We all know that building a brand is filled with everyday challenges, some big and some small and aggravating. What’s your favorite challenge that you have tackled and what did you learn from this experience?

Patience is the biggest thing for me. In this industry it used to be so difficult for me to see other people making a success of their talents and passions. I’ve learned that patience is the most important thing.

Everyone has their own journey, their own timelines and trajectories. There is no use being anxious or worried about what is going to happen. I strongly believe that I will get to where I want to go. I must be patient about with the recourses I do have.

Since you self-manage, this must also mean that you manage your own social media sites? If so, how have you built an online community around your brand? What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs around building passionate fans and active online communities?

Be true to yourself. Be authentic and genuine, whether on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or Soundcloud. I try to give valuable advice or useful and relevant information to my followers and supporters, while constantly remembering to be myself as I do so.

It is also good to have goals for each platform. Your Instagram followers are very different from your Facebook followers, likewise your LinkedIn followers. Figure out, what exactly do followers want to gain from the different platforms? It is a learning process, and a trial and error.

From your social media pages, I can see that you’re inspiring your followers in everything that you do—whether it’s singing or blogging. How do other activities that you partake in, inspire your work?

Photography, reading, social messages, conversations, and social issues inspire my blogging and songwriting. At Berklee School of Music I studied film and music scoring.

I’ve written music for commercials, and teach piano to little kids. Being an artist is a full time job. Everyday there is something to do—from social media, to practicing for a show, to styling, and to rehearsing.

What female artists do you gain inspiration and or empowerment from?

Adele, her honesty inspires me. Lianne Lahava, Laura Mvula—to name a few—teach me to stay true to myself and to write from an honest place.

How do you define yourself and your music, in terms of today’s climate?

If you come to one of my shows, you will hear reggae, highlife, pop, R&B and classical elements. The common thread that runs through all of my songs are honesty and elements of truth and authenticity through my repertoire. I am influenced by too many things to really put myself in the box.

I think that is where the world is headed—no longer really saying. Everyone is going into various genres; as the Internet and social media become more accessible around the world, we are all going to make music that we love and we know we will communicate to our followers and our fans.

What tips do you have on negotiating how much you get paid, how do you determine doing a free show or not?

It all depends on the type of gig, and how many minutes they want you to perform; how many songs they want and the number of instruments needed. All are determining factors and more—styling, makeup, and hair—help me to determine how much to charge.

However, creativity is relative. Some people have a budget. When you get to a point where you are trying to negotiate then other things come in, such as whether it is for a good cause or if it will be really good exposure for you or performing in front of an audience that you do not get to perform in front to often; or even someone saying, I will cover your costs but not pay your labor fees.

There’s also the situation where you have the opportunity to leverage off the people who ask you to perform—if they can open some doors for you, or introduce you to certain people and not pay you as much as you would like, that is a good reason to do a free or low fee gig.

How do you determine a good opportunity?

A good opportunity is one that won’t ever come around again and that you can be proud of. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

For example, when I performed the national anthem at the President of Nigeria’s first official visit to America in Washington, D.C. An opportunity like that may not ever come around again. Another example is of the time that I opened up for Chaka Khan and Angelique Kidjo; it was something I knew I had to do.

Kaline Official - 2A good opportunity can also be for charity, a good cause, to leverage off some contacts, to experiment, or even to rehearse. Open Mic Night, no one pays you for that, but that is in itself a gig; use it as an opportunity to try out a new song or play in front of an audience that you’ve never played in front of.

What do you see yourself achieving as a musician and as a representation of African women, whether in the near future or the far future? What advice would you have for women trying to navigate the industry?

There is so much importance in understanding that we all need to be true to ourselves in order to reach our fullest potential. Patience is key for achieving your goals. Patience does not mean sitting around and waiting for something to happen. It means going out and doing what you can with the resources—limited or not—and pushing ahead with clear goals.

I want to be well represented and seen as someone who stuck to this idea of authenticity and genuity. I want to encourage people to do the same; to be as unique as possible.