A typical misunderstanding about leadership is that many believe it is all about the personal qualities of the manager.
But the truth is that a good manager acknowledges that it is difficult not to realize that the company's healthy growth is the outcome of the group effort.
Once you direct a team, success isn't any longer about just you - the manager - but rather the achievement of your company or department in general.
In summary, show employees that you value them personally so you and the group may successfully undertake aims that are common.
Today, we are going to look at the seven steps that can help you reach this.
Putting together and organizing a group of individuals can prove to be extremely challenging.
You will need to be able to manage a group of people with different personal goals, walk of life, interests, etc., each with their own (good or bad) reasons to be working with you.
At the end of the day, you must ensure that all those individualities will willingly, if not happily, work together towards the same goal, regardless (if not thanks to) what makes each of them different, having them working as one team rich of all its individualities.
1. I’m listening…
A good manager and a good leader (being a manager is not the same as being a leader) must be able to efficiently listen to their crew.
Take the time to regularly sit down with your employees in the most informal manner as possible and listen to what they have to say; understand and respond to their ideas, suggestions, comments and concerns.
By listening individually to each member of your team, you are making the group stronger, enhancing its cohesion…
…as long as you are addressing their comments and suggestions:
This policy would strongly and dramatically backfire at you should your employees find out that you ignore them after they talked to you a couple of times.
On the other hand, simply following-up on your conversation will have the most positive effect on your team, implementing both trust and respect, hence making the group stronger and more motivated, thus better able to achieve set goals.
2. I have feelings too you know…
Forget about the typical movies cliché: you do not need to be cold and heartless to show that you are the boss.
Quite the opposite!
Sharing your feelings and opinions with your team members, as long as they are not offensive and remain at all times respectful, is not an indication of weakness.
Express yourself as openly as you can, hence implementing a sense of trust within your group, allowing team members to feel confident to act in a similar way.
The resulting positive effects will eventually show up (after a ‘wait and see’ period from most of your team members to verify how trustworthy you are), once again strengthening the group.
Trust is both one of the strongest and weakest team cohesion tools:
It is very hard to build and very easy to destroy – forget about those expensive team-building exercises; they are mostly useless and good only to the company that sells you the program (usually at an exorbitant price); trust is a long-term process that requires ‘baby-steps’ and needs to be reinvented every day not once a year during those expensive and time-wasting ‘group cohesion days’!
When well managed, trust based on feeling and opinion sharing allows each team member to work closely and more efficiently with their colleagues so to be better reach company’s set goals.
3. I checked-out from my ivory tower for ever…
The famous ‘open door’ policy is more important than you may think.
Despite the fact that, at times, you may find it annoying (you can hardly concentrate on a document: team members keep walking into your office for one or another reason!), the overall success of your company or department is directly related to the quality of your open door policy.
Team members will feel closer to you, more motivated to achieve their tasks, increase work quality and be more enticed to reach their goals when they know that they may disturb you at any time and that regardless how busy you may be, you always welcome them with a smile and take time to listen to them.
Be it in your office, in the corridor or at the coffee-machine, you must at all times be approachable.
Nevertheless, there will be times when you cannot see them; in such case you must explain in a friendly way why you cannot talk to them, apologize and ensure that you go to them as soon as your schedule allows it!
Being friendly and approachable may not simply result in you building stronger relationships with members of your team.
It is also to give you an opportunity to listen to new thoughts, address issues and demonstrate how valuable they are to your company or department overall success.
4. Let’s get to know each other...
Gone are the times when employees expected their leaders to dictate from the top of their ivory tower and sit behind closed office doors.
Today, team members’ expectations have changed, and that in order to succeed, companies’ hierarchical structure must be as flat as possible.
Managers, and even more so leaders, are not anymore some gods sitting on top of their Mount Olympus, but someone living and sharing their team’ environment, understanding and sharing their very same life at work, with its ups and downs.
Without being too intrusive, managers must know enough of their employees’ personal lives to be able to ask about their household, what matters to them or the elements in their function that they like or dislike the most.
By doing so, you will demonstrate to your team members that they are not plain workers to you but also 'people', even recognizing and addressing their personal issues when needed.
By ensuring the best possible balance between worker (work life) and individual (private life), you will allow your team members to manage enough free mind to concentrate on their targets so to achieve – when not exceed – them.
5. I am here to help, not punish...
Instead than being too judgmental, managers must spend the necessary time and effort to help members of their team through the business-related issues they will be having sooner or later.
For instance, don’t turn an employee off because they are struggling to comprehend a fresh business concept, but rather take a tiny extra-time to stroll the individual through the process, paying attention to use words, examples and expressions they are most likely to comprehend better based on their education, as well as personal and professional past.
Invest time and effort in your staff - it will always pay off.
6. I recognize my team members ups and downs...
As mentioned before, today’s managers do not live in their ivory towers anymore, but share their team members’ everyday life.
Therefore, you must at all times pay attention to the people around you, recognizing their mood swings, addressing their changes of attitude, sudden or progressive quality of work fluctuation, etc.
As soon as you notice such discrepancies, you must take the time to assist concerned individuals so to understand what goes wrong, and help them take any corrective measures as necessary to go back to ‘normal’.
This will in turn help your company grow, broaden and expand.
It will also result in a powerful corporate tradition that will attract the best talents and ensure that your best employees will not be tempted to join the competition.
Entrepreneurs and leaders are naturally tuned into the people who surround them:
If an employee is having a lousy day, go easy on that individual.
On the other hand, when a team member is energetic with a high level of motivation, don’t be afraid to challenge them even more!
7. I am in charge, hence the first responsible…
Although leadership is collaborative, as a manager you must take responsibility for your team’ mistakes and under-performances.
It doesn’t mean that each team member is not taken accountable for what goes wrong!
The entire team bears problematic issues responsibility and must face whatever consequences they entail, but as the team leader, you are the ultimate responsible.
As a leader, you are also the ultimate responsible of the team overall spirit:
As such, you must always perform hard, continuously demonstrate your engagement towards company’s or department’s goals and ensure that your attitude is always caring and positive from morning to evening, no matter of what.
By doing so, you are a model to your team members:
A negative manager (in such a case, we cannot even consider that they can be seen as a leader) leads a negative team leading eventually to… failure.
On the other hand, a positive leader leads a positive team that will do whatever necessary to achieve their targets.
In conclusion, always ask yourself the following key questions:
Reply ‘Yes’ to all of these questions, and you can be sure that your company or department is on the track to success – it might take some times to achieve full success due to events beyond your control (e.g. economic crisis, recession), but you will witness noticeable ‘intermediary’ successes in various area that are proof enough that once those events will be out of the way, you and your team will achieve full success.
Reply ‘No’ to any of these questions, and you need to work on your management style to improve its efficiency, hence enhancing your team productivity.
One final word:
The leadership style described here put the team and the individuals that make the team at the center of your management style.
You may wonder if it is not too much and if some individuals will not take advantage of the situation to play you and their colleagues.
Well… ‘Care management’ is not ‘Weak management’.
Caring for your team members does not mean allowing everyone to do whatever they want:
Policies must be developed, clearly explained to everyone, implemented and enforced whenever needed, in the strongest and hard-hearted way possible.
Caring is not being weak.
It is totally the opposite;
It is all about working hard to succeed.
Being weak opens the road to failure.
What's your company policy in that matter?