I have been in the fortunate position to have worked with all sorts of leaders over the years of my career in Administration. This has provided me with the advantage of seeing first hand the way that brilliant leaders and novice leaders approach managing people and the situations that their staff deal with on an daily basis.
Each leader has provided me with an opportunity to learn through observation, about effective people management, team dynamics and some important do's and don't's when it comes to leading. Each of these leaders have been great teachers to me, even if they were unaware of the role they played in my personal understanding of people dynamics.
As I have developed throughout my career, I have discovered a wealth of insights from Business Leaders around the world that are also applicable to the learnings I have had on the job. People such as Jim Rohn, Stephen Covey, Brian Tracy and Ken Blanchard have had a strong influence on my own comprehension of leadership. They have walked their talk and talked their walk, to assist each one of us to to grow and develop personally and professionally.
Here, I have drawn on some of their messages and my own life experience to pull together this list of 7 tips to help increase your Leadership Skills and get better outcomes from your team:
- Reflect daily on your own behaviour in situations with people. Ask yourself, "how could I do things differently next time to get a different or better outcome?" Note down any ideas and implement them the next time around. Daily reflection and observation of what happened can provide you with great insight on how to approach situations differently and gain better outcomes with your team. Reflect and Observe - are a must in a Great Leaders' Toolbox!
- Consider each person in your team and based on your experience with them begin to piece together a picture of how they prefer you to communicate with them. How do they like to work with you? This skill will provide you with an opportunity to build a better working relationship with people, even the difficult people as they will begin to see you changing in relation to them;
- Practice Situational Leadership - Think about each team member's current level of knowledge and skills in relation to the task or activity you want them to perform and consider how you could approach leading them more effectively by asking the following questions:
- Do I need to coach this person by through a new project?
- How much support do they need from me to get this done and be successful?
- What is their current level of knowledge/skill in this area?
- What do I need to do to help them?
- Are they new to the role and need a lot of direction?
- Do I need to direct them step by step through a task as they are not familiar with what I need them to do?
- Do they require very little support because they are already committed and competent in what they are doing?
- How do I know that they are completely ready to receive full delegation? Consider their length of time in the role, the work they already produce and their level of current autonomy.
- Do they need me to listen to their ideas and discuss the project/situation?
- Are they dependent on me to make the decisions?
- Do they operate better if I encourage them to step up and make decisions after consultation with me? How can I leverage consultation to increase their self-confidence?
- What do they need from me to be successful in their job, etc?
- Stop, pause and listen to the messages your team are giving you. Specifically, listen for the sub-text of the message and be mindful if there is something that is being un-said but their body language is telling you needs to be discussed. Take this type of discussion off-line and chat privately about any issues to ensure that you hear them properly.
- Set clear priorities in your own mind and on paper. Look for ways to make priorities meaningful to your team's daily work goals. It will pay you numerous positive dividends to be flexible enough to hear suggestions and thoughts if they want to volunteer them to you. Even if the suggestions or ideas do not marry with the priorities completely, try to find a way to acknowledge their contribution and keep it positives. People value leaders who value them.
- Be a life-time student of personal and professional development and self-improvement - practice what you learn and assess outcomes for better personal and team results. Practicing good public relations and people skills will go a long way as your team will be more understanding and forgiving at crunch times.
- Foster a healthy respect for each individual in your team and PLEASE leave your negative ego at the door before walking into the workplace. No matter what the current level of development your team are at they will appreciate your care and respect for them as human beings and they will not talk about you behind your back.
A word of warning: Many times people will not tell a novice leader that they are not doing a very good job at leading. This happens for a variety of reasons. Instead of telling you about your leadership style, people often prefer to hold corridor conversations; mini-conferences at the coffee machine; they lack of motivation; there may be increased time away from work and other signs warning signs may manifest.
If this happens to you, it is a red flag and time to stop what you are doing. I suggest that you stop and take stock of your leadership approach to see if it is your style that needs to change.
If you want to be a great leader, then I recommend that you build up your own self-education library and include this book on your reading list: Leadership & the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi and Drea Zigarmi - it is an excellent parable that teaches you about Situational Leadership.
Great leaders understand that there is no one right way to lead people and are open to tailoring their leadership style to the needs of the individual.
Lastly, remember that even if you are not in a position of power to call the shots, you can be an influencer of change through practicing leadership skills, developing your self-education and good public relation skills.