Guest post by Melinda Reihberg
Starting out in leadership can be daunting. Suddenly you are not only responsible for your own results,but the results of an entire team. Their behavior, performance, attitude and productivity reflect on you.As a leader, you need to be a catalyst; person who can spark or ignite action in others. One of the best things you can do as a new leader is to reflect upon your own time as a team member and the leaders you have reported to over this time. Most of us have, over a period of time experienced both good and bad leadership. Learn from others, their triumphs as well as their mistakes. How did your manager make you feel?Did they inspire you? Or were they ultimately the reason you resigned from a position?Start out by brainstorming your own experiences and write down some key points you have learned from others. Use this knowledge and first-hand experience when reading my 7 tips. You may even be able to relate to these key points and think how you felt as a team member if your leader did or did not implement some of these leadership techniques.
1. Get their buy in- build rapport, make it personal
It’s the old saying; people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care! A job title incorporating the word “Leader” does not automatically bestow respect on you from your team –it has to be earned. I liken this to sales. Generally, who do we like to buy from? If we have a choice, and quite often we do in our competitive market place, we buy from people we like, respect and trust. The way to achieve this is to build rapport – which is common ground. Human nature is that we like people who are like us, people we have things in common with. It’s the same in leadership, having rapport with your team, finding things in common and being able to relate to them on a more personal level will have a positive impact. You do not want them to buy from you, but you do want their BUY IN!
2. Be a Visionary – think big picture
As a leader, it’s your job to craft your team’s vision and then motivate team members to achieve that vision. The leader needs to know the big picture and give the team a clear sense of purpose by ensuring they understand how their work contributes to the company’s business strategy. Basically breaking it down – knowing what the organization’s key objectives or goals are and making it relevant to the individual. I am a big believer that no matter who you are, what your role is in a company, everyone likes to feel a sense of worth and that they are contributing to the bottom line and making a difference to their place of business. A good leader can provide that sense of ownership and purpose to their team members, and we can show you how to achieve it quickly.
3. Don’t ignore poor performance – one bad apple can spoil the bunch
A leader’s role is to manage both good and bad performance. A good leader will hold their team accountable. Accountability is the gift that keeps on giving. Although not always pleasant, holding a staff member accountable in the present will actually save stress in the future. Not only do you improve the likelihood of that individual improving, you also signal to every other employee what is not acceptable. If you don’t deal with an issue as soon as possible, you end up with larger issues. There is no bigger de-motivator for staff than seeing what others get away with. Ensure that the people in your team want to take the journey with you, if they don’t they need to be encouraged to jump off the bus at the next stop. There is definite skill in being able to achieve this effectively; our training will take the hesitation out of it. Successful teams’ work together and are united by the team goals you have all set.
4. Effective Delegation – a tool of motivation and development
Delegation is a skill of which we have all heard – but few understand its full potential. Our full day workshops drill down on the key ways to maximize the potential of delegating successfully to your team. Most leaders understand the need to delegate, but are often hesitant to invest the time and effort up front. It can be used in one of two ways – an excuse for dumping failure onto the shoulders of subordinates or as a dynamic tool for motivating and training your team to realize their full potential. To delegate successfully you need to think about people. It can’t be viewed as a one size fits all; it depend on each individual’s needs, skill level and interests. The key is to delegate gradually. If you present someone with a task which is daunting, one they feel they can’t cope with, then it will not be done and your staff will be de-motivated. Each task should have enough complexity and interest to stretch that staff member. When you delegate a job, it does not have to be done as well as you could do it – only as well as necessary. Never judge the outcome by what you expect you would do, but rather by fitness for purpose. Try and delegate not only the performance of the task, but the ownership – let their creative flair come to life by encouraging them to mix it up and do it their way – not yours.
5. Communication – No news is NOT good news
The rumor mill unfortunately is still alive and thriving in today’s corporate world. Have you ever witnessed or participated in “water cooler” gossip? The one constant in this gossip is that it is typically based on rumors, innuendo and theories. This comes about not through top down communication, but lack thereof. Of course, the higher you progress in the company the more information you are privy to that is confidential. As a leader, you can’t always share everything. The trick is to keep the channels of communication alive, even when you can’t share specific information. Your success as a leader is heavily influenced by how well you communicate.
Always ask your team more questions and make fewer statements, be specific in your words and use positive language. Regular team meetings are one of the easiest ways to encourage and participate in regular communication with your team – you can discuss performance, results, goals, new ideas, priorities, success stories.
6. Bring out the best in others – no one can succeed alone
An inspirational leader is one who can bring out the best in their team – provide the type of environment in which people are motivated to perform at their peak and achieve all they are capable of. Being a leader is all about accomplishing results through others. You can’t do that if you don’t bring out the best in others. To achieve this, you need to think about what the company needs from your team members, where their skill level is now and what you can do to help them reach a higher level. A great way to answer these questions is to conduct a skills gap analysis. We can provide you with a free skills gap template to use when conducting this analysis on your team. Looking at your results, think about who you might want to start developing first; who has strengths that could be tapped into more? Who is below expectations in important criteria? Who has potential that isn’t being used right now?
7. Be flexible – adapt your leadership style
A great question to ask your team is “How do you like to be managed”. A lot of team members thrive when they are “macro” managed; “A leader who lets employees do their jobs with minimal supervision”. Some team members prefer to be “micro” managed. “A management style where a manager closely observes or controls the work of his or her employees”. The key is to adapt accordingly – and you can only do this by understanding your team and acknowledging their uniqueness. A successful leader needs to adapt their style depending upon the person and situation or task at hand on a daily basis to generate a positive outcome. Our workshop delves into situational leadership and how to use this to your benefit and maximize team potential.
All teams are not equal – by treating each member as an individual and managing them as per their personality, capabilities and needs you are well on your way to being an inspirational leader and one that will generate respect and results!