Explore the Manager Balancing Act – delving into the stress faced by team leaders. Insights and solutions for effective leadership.
How to be a Better Leader
Learn how to enhance your leadership skills with our comprehensive guide. Develop better communication, delegation, and decision-making abilities.
Being a good worker does not always translate into being a good leader. A good work ethic and track record as an employee is a useful yardstick when selecting out leaders but it doesn’t guarantee success. When an employee, all there is to worry about is the immediate tasks at hand, doing it well and on deadline. A leader is required to think into the future and handle many people under him to perform.
When in a leadership position, choices have a much bigger impact. Bad choices and good ones have a ripple effect through several people. No one does a totally perfect job, but through attention to detail, balancing priorities and proper delegation of tasks leadership can be successful.
The first step to becoming a good leader is to understand some of the skills and qualities required.
People don’t follow those they don’t trust. When a manager says they will do something...and then they don’t do it that breaks trust. It also makes it much harder to get people to listen or meet deadlines when their manager is falling down on the job.
Also, when a leader gives orders they need to be correct. If a junior employee complies with a leaders directions and those directions wind up creating a mess they are far less likely to listen in the future. Leaders need to constantly be working to build trust by leading through example and taking care to only issue directions that will result in production.
Building trust is not an overnight process. Some employees are slower to trust than others. But trust can be created and the good leaders work at it all the time.
We have probably all been run by a manager at some point in our lives that wasn't as knowledgable as we were. It’s a painfully annoying experience to earn less and take directions from a manager you know more than.
To be a good leader requires knowledge. It doesn’t mean you have to be smarter and know more about everything than employees junior to you. But, the good leader is more knowledgable than his employees in the workplace. Knowledge is a major reason why a manager is in a leadership position, so he can use his knowledge to guide a team.
Work hard to expand your knowledge all the time. Recognize weak points and take strides to broaden your knowledge. When employees see a leader actively taking strides to improve their knowledge base this instills confidence and also sets a good example for employees to improve themselves.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” - Charles Darwin
It is impossible to predict everything. Any veteran manager can tell you that even the most meticulously crafted plans can’t possibly account for every eventuality. Things come up. Unpredictable points of chaos arise. The good leader has to be able to change gears and adapt to circumstances no matter how arduous they may seem.
Being organized is a must for any good leader. Leaders don’t have to be organization freaks, but there needs to be some kind of administrative system to keep track of what is going on. When a leader is disorganized he doesn’t catch when employees are over deadline or falling down on the job. Too much of this and employees can get the idea they can get away with slipshod work. They expect a manager to at least point it out when they miss a deadline or turn in bad work. Only an organized leader can detect when things are going wrong and set them right.
This also works in reverse, the organized leader knows when things are going right. He can see good work when it happens, acknowledge it and make assessments to bolster positive activities.
Communication is crucial to team building. Team members who don’t have a high level of communication are not a team. Not only will their work activities be out of sync, but company culture will suffer. Only a team where everyone communicates can be effective. It is up the leader to facilitate communication.
Good leaders are approachable. They can receive communication easily and those around them feel safe voicing their ideas. Good leaders can also get others to talk to one another.
Consistent work and attention to communication skills in a leader pays in dividends. It’s the grease on the motor so the parts can work together.
Steps to take to improve leadership
With the above qualities in mind, steps can now be taken to improve leadership. Let’s take a look at actions to implement these qualities.
Take strides towards knowing your employees
Most managers only meet with teams as a group. Group zoom meetings, in person meetings that go over projects and group settings are vital to production. However, setting up meetings with each individual group member is often a neglected action.
To improve leadership, take time out to communicate directly with each individual in your charge. Find out how they are doing on the job. What difficulties are they having? How can you help them? You can and should ask about their personal life. Don’t pry. But make it known they can always talk to you about whatever they want.
Too much communication can be a bad thing. While you want team mates to connect on a personal level, if you spot more emails going back and forth about weekend activities than current projects this can be concerning. The trick is to maintain balance.
As a leader, you should always look at what is needed to improve efficiency. Always ask yourself questions like “What information needs to be forwarded to help make work easier?” or “What communication can I give to my employees that will help them get their work done?”
Start paying attention to all the communication channels. No need to go overboard, but you can take steps to streamlining communication and making it productive where need be.
This is the easiest thing in the world to start practicing. Start paying attention to when employees do a good job. Take note of successes. When these things occur, find ways to acknowledge good work. Good work that goes unacknowledged leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Good work that is lauded results in more good work being done.
As a leader, a simple way to promote more good work is to acknowledge it!
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