Leadership isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of successful entrepreneurs that are creative, inventive and even inspirational. That doesn’t make them the best people person to lead a team. You can learn a lot about heading up a team from various training courses. And some people are lucky enough to be born with great people skills. Colleagues naturally want to follow these people. Most of us are somewhere in between. We’re not bad at leading a project, but perhaps there is still a little way to go to be as good as those naturally talented leaders:
Training For Leadership
Many people struggle to tap into their own self-confidence when faced with a team of talented colleagues. They often come to you looking for advice and guidance. Training for leadership can give your confidence the boost it needs to push through with the challenges in front of you. You’ll be given the skills you need as well as the theoretical knowledge to help you define your own leadership style.
Ultimately, practice is the best way to feel confident no matter what situation you find yourself in. There are several key areas of leadership that you should get comfortable with as soon as possible:
It’s important you can empower the people you lead to make decisions for themselves and manage their own work life. Try simple things like offering tools for time management, or coaching and mentoring. It’s your job as their manager to make sure they are confident enough to take on the role they do. Explain early on how you like your subordinates to bring ideas to the table. What type of presentation do you look for? Make sure there is no room for mistakes by clarifying expectations and procedures.
Be sure to celebrate and reward good ideas and input. This helps your team know that their efforts were appreciated and they’re heading in the right direction. You should also help your team feel empowered in their working life. Striking the work-life balance is hard. What can you do to help your employees feel like they have some control over their situation? Can you do it without negatively impacting on the business?
Of course, as a manager, you also need to manage. This might feel a little backward after trying to empower staff to take control of their working life. However, there are times when it will need to be reined in as well. Sometimes colleagues can’t agree on ideas or feel that their opinions aren’t fully considered. As a manager, you need to take the tough line while still fully acknowledging what has happened.
There are also many administrative tasks that a manager needs to take on. Logging work hours, especially for flexi-working is tough without a tool like the one at www.humanity.com/tools/free-timecard-calculator. Your team can even log this themselves, saving you an admin task. You’ll need to delegate tasks as well as entire projects. Most importantly, you need to set up monitoring as part of your routine. How can you be everywhere at once? Time management and scheduling will help you here.
Listening and Decision Making
The more lateral your team, the more you need to listen. A leader in this situation collates all the ideas, encourages deeper exploration of the ones that seem most viable, and then chooses one. This can obviously disappoint most of the team! So encouraging everyone to develop each idea is best so everyone can own it. The decisions you have to make should be based on good business sense. But if you don’t listen to the less-than-ideal ideas, you might soon have a mutiny on your hands.
Sometimes a good manager will sit in silence as the rest of the team thrash out ideas or present what they’ve come up with. It is good to listen, but always find the holes in what they’ve done. Where are the weaknesses? Where is research lacking? Encourage your team to be thorough at all times. You might delegate these ‘pick-up’ tasks to another member of the team. When you’re making important business decisions, be sure to delegate to the employee best suited to the task.
It’s really hard to say no to half a dozen great ideas in favor of the one that really stands out. Practice will help you here. Don’t encourage people to sit on projects that you’ll never have the time or interest in pursuing further. Cut it off and move on. Saying no is never easy, but there are plenty of approaches to this less-than-pleasant task. How do you say no but still encourage further ideas?
Photo by Jackie Kelly
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