Leadership Skills

Are you a Helicopter Manager?

Helicopter managers tell employees what to do, how to do it and when it is due, removing any creativity from the assignment. They withhold information for fear of upsetting others, tend to avoid conflict by solving employee’s problems rather than letting people figure it out for themselves, denying employee’s opportunities for learning and growing. Hovering over employees drives them out the door to somewhere they can think for themselves.

As a manager, it is your job to teach your team how to decide on their own, not make it for them. This is coaching for performance. Managers who understand their role as a coach will have greater impact on their team, their results and the organization. Supervisors who operate more like a coach and effectively coach team members boost results as much as 20% compared to those supervisors who choose to “manage” or tell instead of coach.

– Coaches “ask” versus “tell”. Coaches have learned the art of asking questions; leading questions that help the agent think through the issue and many times will arrive at their own solution. When agents go through the thought process to get to the resolution they feel empowered, confident and they own it. Telling makes managers sound bossy, confrontational and unapproachable.

– Managers who coach focus on the agent versus the task. Coaches use the issue as the vehicle to develop the agent. For example, an agent would continually get stuck and stop working because an obstacle presented itself. The supervisor repeatedly asked questions like “What options do you have to get around this?”, “What options are realistic?” and “Do your options need resources or a manager’s support?” By working with this agent and developing their thinking process they soon began to resolve issues on their own and stopped going to their supervisor.

– Coaching is about developing people not “fixing” them. The coach facilitates the learning and development process by creating a safe place for the agent to explore and discover.

– Coaches, like managers hold agents accountable by providing structure around the action and outcomes. This helps keep the agent on track and they can see the process they have moved through and will implement on their own next time.

– Coaching in the moment is something that happens when needed. An agent comes to the supervisor with a question and the caller is on the line. On-the-job experiences are a good time to reinforce classroom training by helping the agent apply the classroom knowledge to a real situation. This is how learning “sinks in” for long term retention.

You Can Delegate That!

Too many managers think they can do it better themselves and thus become overwhelmed and overworked with all the projects, tasks and responsibilities. Overworked leads to more stress, unhappiness and the pressure that you are letting people down. This is a scenario for disaster.

A smart manager asks himself “is this the best use of my time” and learns how to leverage the skills and abilities of the team to get things done. Chances are that your skills, knowledge and experience is better applied somewhere else. By doing tasks yourself you fail to make the best use of your time and therefore are overworked.

You want to match the requirements of the task, project, or job to the abilities of the person. Be sure the person you delegate the task to can do the job. You can trust they can get it done. Delegating the task to the right person is 95% of delegating. The other 5% is letting go and trusting your team member. When people feel trusted you gain respect and cooperation. When you delegate the task, you are also developing the skills and abilities in your team members, which is want good managers do. When a similar project comes around again you can be confident it will be completed well with much less input from you. You are raising the skills and abilities of your team through these delegated tasks.

When to Delegate?
Not every task on your plate is delegable. You want to create a win-win when you delegate so how do you know when to delegate and when not to?
– Is this a task that someone else can do? Is there a critical reason I should do it myself?
– Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop your team member?
– Will this task recur sometime in the future or a one-time thing?
– Do you have the time to provide the adequate training, time for questions/answers and time for rework if the task goes sideways for any reason?
– Is it appropriate to delegate this task? (Interviewing a key supervisor for example most likely needs your time and attention).

Continue to practice your delegation skills. You will find that you can work less hours, be more productive without feeling overwhelmed and at the same time raise the skill level of your team. Sit back and watch your team flourish

Use Personal Power vs. Position Power

Effective leaders use personal power over position power to gain acceptance to ideas and move people to action. Personal power is a source of influence and authority a person has over his or her followers. Where does a person get this power? In short, his or her followers determine personal power. Personal power is defined by the power followers give.

On the other hand, position power is the authority and influence bestowed by a position or office on whoever is filling or occupying it. I am the “site manager” and therefore you will listen to me. Relying on the position or title to move people into action. Positional power comes by the very nature of your title. It is understood by all and never needs to be stated. Throwing your title around or operating as if nothing else matters but your position will ultimately backfire.

What does personal power look like? Personal power is reflected in the way you “show up” and treat your employees and customers. It is about building relationships that result in authentic engagement. Leaders using their personal power are driven by deep relationships built on trust, honesty and cooperation. Personal power leaders create a space that is safe, creative and empowered and are driven to reach greatness. Team members feel like they belong, they want to be included and they are involved and engaged.

Great leaders exercise power by the virtue of their passion and who they are. In short, this motivates associates to do their best work, offering leaders some measure of power through the empowerment of their people. A leader who relies on personal power instead of positional power can persuade and galvanize others, sharing good ideas with them. They possess the ability to make things happen by encouraging and inspiring others and acting as a catalyst for change.


1. Define your contact center’s leadership needs. What does leadership mean in your contact center? Be specific. Vagueness breeds more vagueness. Build a program around the specific needs.

2. Practice. When managers are away let leadership development trainees step in and get some practice. These hands-on experiences will prove to be invaluable with lessons learned.


To sustain a viable pipeline of managers, contact centers want to invest in a Leadership Development Program. Companies prefer to hire from within but many times don’t have the right leadership talent available internally, which forces companies to look outside. Implementing an LDP can change that scenario. Leaders are developed over time with the proper structure, leadership and direction.

The best LDP programs include real-world work, education, training and coaching guided by a structured curriculum with tests or accountability checkpoints along the way. Providing Leadership Development Trainees with the opportunity to learn all aspects of the business backfills their experience. The program should include self-study as well as group training and discussion. Assign the trainee with a project; something they can call their own and are responsible for managing and reporting the results.

Developing a Leadership Development Program is a wise investment for long-term staffing and growth. Well-led organizations tend to attract quality applicants, produce satisfied employees, incur less unwanted turnover, cultivate loyal customers, and yield impressive financial returns. Sounds like a tall order but it is possible with a well thought-out program that is committed to its people.

Emotional Intelligence

Industry Content Supporter:
Steven Cramer
Sr. Vice President Operations

Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. How do you use emotional intelligence as a manager?

Here are a few strategies.
– A true leader understands that it’s about the team and not just you. Managers are aware that agent metrics are your metrics. Its not Me-Me but We-We. Change your focus to the team and less on you.

– Use more personal forms of communication. Ineffective leaders hide behind email, instant messages and Chat. Get out of your chair or pick up the phone if your team member is not in the building and have a live in-person conversation. Everything managers accomplish is through relationships. Live conversations build a relationship of trust, respect and confidence. The human connection will always be the most powerful form of communication. Your team wants to connect to you personally not digitally.

– Learn what motivates your team members. Find out what the most fulfilling work experience is that each team member has experienced. This will provide insights on what you need to do to create a fulfilling work environment.

– The person you are talking to is the most important person in that moment. You send the message that “your cell phone call or email is more important than me”. It is the ultimate insult. Treat your team members with respect and you will get respect back.

– Engage your team members with questions and listen to the answers. People want to know you care and they are being heard. Make eye contact and don’t interrupt.

– You must see the work world though your team’s eyes. You must understand the pressures, responsibilities and demands that are placed upon them. Ask “I’d like to know more about that” and the empathy you show will be appreciated.

You can never give too much recognition. Catch your team doing something semi-good, great, or fantastic. Verbal recognition in the moment makes your team stand up straighter because you noticed them and took the time to acknowledge their achievement.

You can always write a handwritten note and leave it on the desk to be opened in the morning. What a great way for a team member to start the day with some recognition! Handwritten is way more powerful than an email. Those cards get proudly pinned up to the cubicle wall. It’s like a medal. Everyone wants and needs recognition and it is virtually free to give.

The Pros and Cons of 7 Different Management Styles

Industry Content Supporter:
Brianna Flavin

Most managers want to be known as good managers. They want to motivate their employees to the best performance possible, maximize the resources they have and achieve favorable results. But making these goals happen is much easier said than done. What can seem straightforward from the outside becomes an interpersonal balancing act on the job. As managers everywhere will tell you—there’s no one way to manage people.

“To understand management styles, it’s important to understand what the core purpose of management is,” says Anshuman Didwania, sales operations lead at Clara Lending “Management exists to enable coordination of resources (labor or capital) to achieve a very specific outcome.” Didwania says management is valuable because the right coordination can achieve an impact that isn’t possible through individual efforts.

“Management styles are differentiated by how managers coordinate resources,” Didwania says, adding that this is normally a matter of how managers gather, process and act on information. We asked managers to weigh in on the pros and cons of management styles they have seen to give you some ideas on finding a management style of your own.

A closer look at 7 management styles

1. Directive management

“Directive management is all about having full control,” says James Nowlin, founder and CEO of Excel Global Partners In this management style, the manager makes decisions and directs the employees in their tasks. “Its primary advantage is that the manager is in full control all the time while its primary disadvantage is that the subordinates get very little opportunity for learning.”

“This management style can be very effective in certain industries such as construction or the military,” says Tim Bartholomew, president of Simplified Management . Bartholomew explains that managers in this style don’t exchange input with team members. “When there is only one acceptable way of doing something or the end product has to meet very strict quality standards, this management style can help the work to flow smoothly without a lot of friction or unnecessary delays.”

Bartholomew offers workplaces like operating rooms and ambulances as examples. In situations where even small errors can lead to death or injury, directive management can be the smartest option. But in other areas, it can be problematic.

“In this style, workers are told the ‘What?’ and not the ‘Why?,’” says Joe Kiedinger of Prophet. Kiedinger says this type of management was common for the baby-boomer generation, but that it’s becoming less common today. Kiedinger says the main benefit is speed and efficiency, as the manager’s orders are carried out. “The cons are that people will quit, and it’s difficult to keep good workers engaged. These companies spend more of their resources on recruitment and training than more collaborative counterparts.”

“Employees need to come to you for approvals on all kinds of small things, which often leads to a decrease in productivity and efficiency,” says Steven Benson, founder and CEO of Badger Maps. Benson says micromanaging is very common, even among managers who agree it isn’t effective in their environment. “If you don’t give your employees appropriate levels of authority, then their work will suffer, and the organization’s progress will slow down.”

2. Coaching management

“Coaching management is all about cultivating the talent and skills of subordinates,” Nowlin says. “Its primary advantage is it encourages a thirst for learning, while its primary disadvantage is it can cause unhealthy competition.”

“A coach breaks down a role, task or skill into parts, and works with each person on how they can improve each part,” Benson says. “I think the most important management skill that you can develop early in your career is to be a great coach.”

Benson says helping each individual reach their full career potential is an important part of building a high-powered workforce. “I teach my employees the strategy and direction of the business and the set of skills they need to be successful,” Benson says. “The goal is to give them the information and knowledge they need to thrive in their role and help them develop through regular training, feedback and one-on-one meetings.”

3. Relational management

This management style is characterized by the trusting relationship built up between the manager and the employees, according to Bartholomew. The goal of relational management is to build a relational foundation that can empower employees to engage and even experiment to capitalize on their strengths. “This type of management style can be slow to provide results,” Bartholomew says. “When a new manager moves into position, they may not be able to get a lot of work done until they build those relationships up.”

In relational management, employees feel more freedom to question the manager when they think they have a better idea. “Sometimes this is a good thing and results in a better process going forward,” Bartholomew says. “Sometimes it’s bad in that the results are delayed and there are more failures since new things are tried more often.” In a company built for innovative thought, where there is time to try new things and take some risk, relational management can be the perfect choice that empowers employees to take ownership.

4. Affiliative management

“The type of management style you decide to use in your workplace depends wholly on the type of business you work in and the personality traits of your employees,” says Murat Evin, Creative Director at The London School of Make-Up.

“Using an affiliative management style is great; it creates a harmonious office vibe and encourages employees to speak out about any issues they may have, because they feel relaxed enough to approach management and discuss concerns openly,” Evin explains.

The goal of affiliative management is to have employees and managers working in a collaborative harmony. Creating team chemistry is a big priority in this managing style. Evin says affiliative management is a great way to keep up morale, but it doesn’t leave much room for conflict or a stern approach when something needs to be improved. “As a result, this style of management is less effective when it isn’t used in conjunction with another type of approach,” Evin says.

5. Participative management (also called democratic style)

“The goal is to build a team with an ethos of ‘We’ve got this,’ with a focus on moving the organization forward,” says Kristin Nawoczenski, marketing manager at a full-service travel agency. In participative style management, the employees are encouraged to voice ideas and take responsibility for results. “Open communication and exchange of ideas within the team is encouraged,” Nawoczenski says. “Employees are referred to as colleagues, and members are highlighted when deliverables are presented to upper management.”

Didwania sees this type of management most often in early-stage to mid-stage companies, particularly in Silicon Valley. For example, Didwania says a participative manager might approach the team asking questions like, “What should be our criteria for success?” and “What is the culture we want the team to operate by?” This way, the group’s decisions become a foundation for operations.

To foster this sense of participation, teams in this style use terms like “we” instead of “I” and avoid communication with negative or demanding connotations, Nawoczenski says. But the democratic nature of this management style has to be genuine. Nawoczenski says making employees feel that they can make changes, but not actually giving them the authority to do so will erode motivation and make employees feel undervalued.

“These companies have many meetings and wish for everyone to contribute their ideas in making a decision,” Kiedinger says. “The pros are people feel like they have a voice. They are welcomed to contribute their ideas. The con is a slower process change; the inability to move at the high speed of business.”

6. Pace-setting leadership (aka: leading by example)

“The best managers are people who are talented and confident in their own abilities,” says Richard Scholes, managing director of Parrs. Pace-setting managers lead by their own good example. They work hard and bring the same learning and positive attitude to the job that they expect of their employees. “This acts as an inspiration to others on their team,” Scholes says, adding that the pace-setting manager he knew gave guidance when asked for it. “However, this manager’s team generally learned by watching what the manager did and following their behavior.”

Nowlin has seen some problem areas with pace-setting management. “The manager does plenty of the work in hopes of motivating the subordinates, which sometimes results in subordinates feeling too much pressure to perform as well as the manager.” In this case, the result is employees growing unhappy, who then quit the job. “My best advice to new managers is that they should find a style that plays to their strengths and adheres to their professional and personal beliefs.”

7. Servant leadership

“The servant-leader management style is about giving the manager the autonomy to create their own mini-culture within the broader corporate culture,” Kiedinger says. “This style speaks to every generation currently in the workforce. I would say it closely resembles parenting. We want our kids to learn from their mistakes, so we mentor them and not manage them. Through our counsel, they become independent contributors because their values guide their decisions.”

Kiedinger says leadership training is becoming more and more important for managers today. “We need to go from an age of manager to mentor.” This approach requires a strong commitment to individual employees as well as a firm commitment to professional vision. Managers who oversee large groups of employees or employee groups that shift might not have the time to work this way. A potential downside of the servant leadership style is the temptation for the manager to take on more work and mentoring than is feasible.

What’s your style?

Do you see yourself in some of the management styles mentioned above? Can you picture yourself using some of these mindsets or strategies to help other people thrive in their efforts? As these managers have said, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to management. The best managers out there bring their talent, natural qualities and hard work together to find the best style for their specific situation.



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Management of a best-in-class contact center sites require the continuous review of Agent Sourcing Models, Organizational Training and Management Development Programs.


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When a contact center organization expands to an additional site or requires new space, the steps to properly implement are unique to each organization but do have standard phases.