How to grow your leadership skills
Most people start their careers as subject or sector specialists. We are accountants, lawyers, engineering, IT, HR and communication professionals. Then as we move up the ladder we find ourselves in charge of people and resources.
Most of us have little training on leadership skills when we start off, and many learn by trial and error on the job. Management training tends to kick in after people are appointed this and grown into a job, not before appointment.
Few of us have many effective and instinctive, leadership skills.
It’s hardly surprising that many mistakes are made.
Yet, the lack of employee engagement is laid firmly at the feet of managers and leaders. A constant comment is a disillusionment in today’s leaders because of lack of strategy, interaction and feedback, with over two-thirds saying that constructive detailed feedback would make a difference to their overall performance. Telling someone to “keep on doing what they are doing” is not a substitute for performance evaluation.
CREATE SOME BASIC LEADERSHIP HABITS
As budgets are slashed more and more managers get bogged down in operational details and micro-management that eat into our time leaving few opportunities to coach, manage and communicate with staff. These patterns once entrenched become difficult to break. Creating a situation where processes and goals are transparent leads to higher rates of positive engagement. Feedback from reports helps our leadership skills develop even further.
Worth a read: How to be approachable to direct feedback
One easy exercise to do with your team is to create a departmental charter and will give an immediate understanding of the level of transparency within your team and what they would like you to do about it.
Pose these question to your team members about their understanding of the department or section:
The goal of my team is: ___________
The 3 top priorities of the team are: ______________
My role in this is: (list top 5 deliverables over a specified period)__________
My expectation of my manager is: ____________
As a manager ask yourself these five questions:
I last communicated the goals of my team ___ ago.
I last communicated specific feedback to every team member ___ ago.
The top departmental priorities for the next quarter are ________
My top 5 deliverables in the next week/month are___________
I need __ minutes per week for a status update on all of the above
BUILD A WEEKLY LEADERSHIP HABITS INFRA-STRUCTURE
The shift from a time impoverished, transactional manager to become an effective, transparent leader whose style is to coach, enable, empower and deliver, also means new routines and a different focus.
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Here are some daily changes to implement, to create a weekly infra-structure that empowers longer term change. Note we are not talking about urgent and situational issues. But adopting this framework will held reduce the incidence of those.
Monday – decide your goals for the week. Make time to do this early, during your commute to work is a good time. This way you will arrive at the office prepared and ready to go and in a position to resist side tracking. Write your goals down as soon as you arrive, if you can’t do it en route. If you drive, invest in a Dictaphone or use your Smart Phone if it has that option. Make sure you use “hands-free!”
Tuesday – communicate with your team. Engage directly with your reports and communicate targets with them, to get complete buy-in
Wednesday – talk to your team. Find out what, if any, difficulties there are and actively listen to their responses. “I don’t care how you get it done, just do it” is one of the worst phrases in business.
Thursday – action time.
Friday – fine tune. Assess the skill sets of your team and monitor performance. Does anything need your attention? A word of encouragement or praise?
Saturday – time off for you. Devices off.
Sunday – commit and decide your intention for the following week.
Have one positive intention for Monday morning – To create a new mind-set takes time. Introducing a new weekly infra-structure to support your leadership style will help increase engagement and meet short-term goals. This will lead to effective delivery to achieve top results and develop your leadership skills.