Posted: February 04, 2016
Leadership Skills – Don’t Leave Home without Them
If you have been thrust or promoted into a leadership position, your skill set will be changing. You are no longer a member of a team – you are now a leader of that team. You are no longer assuming assigned task responsibilities – you are the one assigning them. You are no longer being inspired – you are the one responsible for inspiring others. So just what is this skill set you must now develop? There are 9 pretty important ones that will start you out on the right track.
You have been used to being given tasks and deadlines. Now you will be responsible for the larger picture – an entire project which must be managed. If you have not developed time management skills before now, you will need to do some quick learning. You have “to-do’s” and your team members will have to-do’s assigned by you. Developing schedules and timelines will be a “must.” You will need to commit to planning your day in advance, to prioritizing tasks, and to setting chunks of time to spend with your team – as a group and individually. Maintaining a schedule as much as possible will be pretty critical.
There is no room for lack of trust in you. While honesty and integrity are really character traits as opposed to skills, you must practice being upfront with your subordinates and providing them as much information as you can. You also want to model that trait for your team. When communication is honest and open, everyone benefits and becomes more productive. If there is pressure from above, you need to communicate that honestly to your team so that everyone can participate in dealing with it. When you practice honesty, subordinates admire you.
You may have to develop some acting skills – specifically, remaining enthusiastic even when a project is tedious, time-consuming, and challenging. When you can remain enthusiastic, you will generate the same among your team members. Part of generating enthusiasm is giving praise to your subordinates at every chance you get. Praise and rewards – these motivate people to “keep on keeping on.”
Each subordinate is an individual with both a professional and a personal life. If you don’t get to know each team member as an individual, you are never going to have the loyalty that you need to get things done. Maybe someone has an ill child or other family member. Do you know this? Have you communicated that if additional time off is needed, you will work with them? Maybe someone is going through a divorce. What can you do to make life at work a bit easier as they go through this difficult time? When each team member believes that you genuinely care for them, you will have a team that will do whatever is necessary to help you get things accomplished.
Being a “Servant” Leader
Sometimes this is referred to as “being on the field with the players.” It is up to you to ask your team what will make their jobs easier, what you can do to provide the resources and the help to make them successful. This may mean getting right in the midst of tasks with them, especially when there is the pressure of deadlines. If you are willing to “get on the field,” work right along with them, they will be loyal and faithful.
This is a skill that will take time to develop and do well, and there are important steps you must take to delegate for maximum productivity.
- First, you must get to know each team member and his/her strengths and weaknesses. Not knowing these things will mean that you delegate incorrectly. Some will find their tasks too easy and/or boring; others will find their tasks too challenging. In both instances, you can get procrastination, low morale, and decrease in productivity.
- Second, if there are skill deficits, you must be ready to provide the training and development that team members need to perform the tasks you need to delegate to them. Getting that training will instill in subordinates that you are invested in them and their growth.
- Once you have a clear picture of strengths and weaknesses, then you can assign tasks appropriately. Things go better for everyone.
Communication is a two-way function. You probably already know this, but you may not have the skills to communicate effectively. If not, then you need to take the initiative to take the training you need to improve your communication skills. Setting up a schedule for communication opportunities is really important. Meetings with the team as a group will allow you to clearly communicate goals, objectives and tasks before you. Then, you need to listen. If an open relationship has been established, all of your team should feel comfortable presenting problems and issues. And open communication means that everyone will participate in problem-solving. There are great ideas out there if yu take the time to listen and honor what others are saying.
Yes, you need a schedule, and yes you must keep everyone on that schedule. But crises do occur. When you can suspend the schedule to call a quick meeting; when you can take the time to assist someone who is struggling, these are the signs of flexibility. Rigid bosses are difficult bosses. Don’t be one of those.
It is a truth about human nature. People tend to rise to what is expected of them. Hold high standards for yourself and for your subordinates. When you do this, along with the other leadership activities that you have, your team members will strive to meet those expectations, even if it means staying late, taking work home, or coming in early. And when they do those things? Praise and rewards are warranted. Communicate your expectations clearly and show that you are holding those same high standards for yourself.
You can become a leader – a great leader. It takes time, commitment, and a willingness to develop a collaborative, personal relationship with subordinates.