Handling a leadership position is a bit of a balancing act, it requires poise, humanity, direction and most importantly the ability to motivate others. Throughout my lifetime, I have come across some amazing leaders that have taught me countless life lessons, and some people who should probably never not been placed in a leadership role. I have been in both submissive and authoritative positions and creating a level of respect and comradery is definitely an art form.
Lead By Example
There is nothing worse than a person in a leadership role creating rules that don’t apply for themselves. Not playing by the rules it the best way to get your flock to completely turn against you. If you want them to follow your lead, you have to lead them in the right direction. Don’t expect them to stay late, when you are the first person walking out the door.
Earn Their Respect
When I was in University, I often ended up taking a leadership role. In my fourth year of university, we had to assign roles to each participant in the group. One of my classmates insisting on being the leader. His leadership style was very different from mine, he would get worked up, micromanage all of us and insist that his work was superior to the work that we were producing. All my classmates voiced their concerns to me, they did not feel he added value to the group. They refused to contribute because they did not appreciate how he treated them and how disrespectful he is. When you are in command,being calm and collected in stressful situations is essential. Earning the respect of the group by how your conduct yourself and showcasing your skill set is one of the first step to becoming a strong leader.
Don’t Make Work a No Fun Zone
This is less of an issue now that there are so many innovative work spaces and studies done to increase productivity. Social media is actually proven to be a mood booster and according to a study done in California, surfing social media channels actually increases productivity by 46 percent. Happy employees work harder and take pride in their work. It is very important to pick your battles. Unless the work isn’t being done, don’t create a negative environment by being too controlling.
There is nothing worse than doing a good job at work and it going unnoticed. A thank you and a pat on the back are always needed when working on a team. Even if it is something small. Studies show that non-cash rewards and recognition are better incentives for employees than cash. A “You are doing a good job and thank you for the hard work” can really go a long way. This is a good tip to use in your everyday life. It stands out in a person’s mind when you acknowledge their efforts and makes for more positive relationships.
Get to Know Your Team’s Strengths
This seems like an obvious one, but I have seen companies overlook employees strengths and distribute tasks in a way that doesn’t play to an individual’s capabilities. It is important to grow your skill-set and diversify, but it is also a good to designate tasks to the person who will excel at doing it and maybe even enjoy it. Whenever you sit down to assign tasks, speak among the group and identify the duty that each person feels is a good fit for them.
Knowing when to take the backseat is also very important when delegating tasks; Creating a space where you can challenge your superiors and advocate your own ideas will lead to better quality work. I remember a manager telling me that I shouldn’t always just do what she says, if I can justify my rational, she values my input. This really stuck with me and to this day I consider it to be valuable advice. If a manager is not willing to allow others to challenge practices and offer innovations, than they are doing themselves a big disservice.
Recognize Talking Points
People like being liked and are usually drawn to the people that they feel positive vibes with. It may seem simple or trivial, but remembering things that are important to your employees and clients is a good way to build a good rapport. Mentioning a show that they are interested in, a new addition to their family or a concert that they were excited for is a good way to connect on a personal level. Recognizing speaking points is a way to create more authentic connections.
Manage Timelines and Workloads
Managers have a tendency to assign tasks, as opposed to checking in on their team’s workload. Sometimes expectations are completely unrealistic, instead of the team voicing their concerns, they are probably getting burnt out. Checking in, following up on projects, and understanding the deadlines that need to be met, are things that managers sometimes neglect.
I once told my manager that I am drowning in work, and she said okay. Then she kept hounding me and asking me if I had things done. As a leader, when there is a problem, it is important to acknowledge objections and work on solutions. Since she could not offer me any direction, I took it upon myself to delegate my own tasks and decide which tasks were worth completing and which tasks were not an effective use of my time. As a leader it is important to offer guidance, and open lines of communication. When it is not a symbiotic relationship, motivation deteriorates.
Leadership is not an easy role. There are definitely practices that are better than others. There is nothing worse than having a team that resents you. Creating an positive working environment is a good way to keep your team happy. A motivated team is a productive team!