Ever wondered how the best leaders handle being at the top so effortlessly? The truth is, these highly successful people do stumble, worry, and doubt themselves, just like the rest of us. But they are very good at mastering the way they are perceived. The higher you get in a company, the less time you’ll spend on executing tasks and managing projects and instead you’ll be focusing on people management.
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As a leader, you must understand that your success depends on the success of your team, and people management skills will be absolutely critical.
My career spanned 40 years as a manager in large organizations before I transitioned into consulting. In those years I was a manager of people in 37 of those years. 37 years of continuous learning on leadership and management.
The essence of a leader comes down to the fundamental values of the individual. What behavior are you role modeling? How do you treat your team members?
Let’s examine these game-changing leadership behaviors for managing people that can help in the way you are perceived:
Get into action
It is critical that you learn the importance of the start, whatever you have been postponing. Just do it, as Nike likes to tell its customers and potential customers. If you wait for the perfect time to start, it will never happen, and you will have accomplished nothing.
Great leaders don’t work in existing systems. They change the systems to give them what they want. They don’t delay the start. They come up with new options for jobs, projects, and professional development that their bosses hadn’t even thought of. They see an opportunity coming their way before most of the rest of us have even looked up from our laptops. They don’t hesitate to seize the initiative, do they?
Learn from competitors
Observing and learning from those around you makes you stronger, better. Never fail to see its value. Your peers, as well as competitors, can usually teach you more than your friends. Let them. Learn from them. To be a great leader, you need to have a strong will and an even stronger stomach. You need to remind yourself that your job isn’t to make everyone happy, but rather to improve the organization as a whole.
Good leaders are constantly trying to improve, surround themselves with the ablest people they can find. They look squarely at their mistakes and deficiencies, and they ask frankly what skills they and the company will need in the future. And because of this, they can move forward with confidence that’s grounded in the facts, not built on fantasies about their talent.
People management … ask for help
Never, ever, hesitate to ask for help in anything you are doing. You can’t possibly know and keep up with everything. Ask, listen well, and learn.
Keep things in perspective
Find balance in everything you do in life.
A man should never neglect family for business
Having work-life balance is important. Never be so consumed in business activities that you neglect the individuals whom you need the most.
But aside from this, great leaders know they need a life so that they’ll learn more about other people, gain perspective, and grow their knowledge.
It’s easy to fall into the idea that our work is all that matters. You are not the center of all things important. The lives of others don’t revolve around you. Don’t act as they do.
Persistence is key. Always keep up the effort as you will never know how close to success you may be.
Think about your energy. It’s not just about what you like best, but about what feeds you and what depletes you. And who. Do what you can to increase the good stuff and decrease the bad. You just need to realize you have the power to accomplish it. Much more than you may have imagined.
Eliminate whatever it is in your life that’s draining you, and replace it with something that inspires you. This will help your persistence.
No fear of failure
No matter how confident someone may seem, everyone is afraid of failing. All of us are afraid of screwing up or afraid of looking stupid.
But great leaders know that everyone they interact with is also afraid.
These people are successful because they act in the face of fear. They go after what they believe, seek change and, ultimately, make a difference.
They also believe they can take a risk because even if they fail, they’ll be able to learn from it and overcome it.
Their fear doesn’t hold them back. Instead, it springs them into action, because they know not stretching themselves is worse than failing.
Dreams always follow those who dare to fail, get up, and reflect and learn from the experience
Wear your passion
Always wear your passion in what you are doing. To do that, you must find those things that you love. Follow the passion; it is what gives you the strength to overcome the obstacles to everyday tasks. Passion is power … it is what keeps you going when everyone else gets tired and gives up.
Coordinating with others … continuous improvement
Always work hard at being a little better than you were the day before. Continuous learning is one of the most important attributes in the work and personal environment.
Great leaders know that every step they take, every decision they make, matters in the end. They know they must strategize carefully, and then act decisively. They know they must think ahead — not just to their next step — but to the many steps after it.
Practice these leadership behaviors often and think ahead for your greatest leadership advantages.
This should be pretty obvious, but the first principle when working in a team is to be nice. People don’t want to work with nasty or aggressive people, and such behavior will only hamper any collaboration. Beyond a basic level of decency, you should also avoid a robotic focus on work and remember that your team is made up of human beings. Ask them how they’re doing before launching into the tasks you need them to do, take a moment to ask about their weekend, show that you’ve got good manners and say please and thank you!
Show them you care
Still on the human being topic, leading a team means showing that you care about them as individuals. So check in to see how they feel if they’re off sick, bring them a cupcake on their birthday, buy them a coffee from time to time… These little gestures will demonstrate that you don’t just think of them as cogs in the machine and will make sure to keep spirits up especially when the workload is heavy, or morale is low.
Being fair to your team members means valuing each of their contributions, giving each of them the attention that they need, giving credit where credit is due. It also means taking due responsibility for work on your side, and role modeling the behavior that you expect from your team. After all, you can’t expect them to be careful with the company’s money if you’re seen to be frittering away the budget on luxurious business trips or entertaining clients.
Focus on their growth
As a people manager, you are not just responsible for making sure that the work gets done but also for helping each reach their full potential by getting the feedback and coaching they need, learning new skills, and finding the right assignment in which to shine. This also requires focusing on your performance so be sure to ask for feedback also from them and keep growing as a manager by attending training sessions and getting coaching yourself.
Support them externally
Trust and solidarity are fundamental values when working in a team and sticking up for each other when the going gets tough will help to maintain cohesion; your team needs to know that you’re not going to throw them under the bus if they make a mistake. You might need to talk to the individual who has made that mistake but don’t do it in front of clients, agencies or colleagues outside of your immediate team.
Engage them in your vision
People need to know what they are working towards, the bigger picture of what you’re all trying to achieve; sharing your broader vision will help them to understand the role they have to play and keep them engaged. This will become all the more important as you grow more senior in your role but you can start even with a small project. What will be the impact if you’re successful? Is there a metaphor or image that you can share that will capture the essence of what you’re trying to achieve? Get your team energized and excited about the bigger goal that lies ahead.
Be a good coach
Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive. Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employees’ specific strengths.
Empower your team and don’t micromanage
Balance is giving freedom to your employees, while still being available for advice. Make “stretch” assignments to help the team tackle big problems.
Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being
Get to know your employees as people, with lives outside of work. Make new members of your team feel welcome and help ease their transition.
Don’t be a sissy. Be productive and results-oriented
Focus on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it. Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks.
Be a good communicator and listen to your team
Communication is two-way: you both listen and share information. Hold all-hands meetings and be straightforward about the messages and goals of the team. Help the team connect the dots. Encourage open dialogue and listen to the issues and concerns of your employees.
Help your employees with career development
Identifying and exploring such opportunities with your team presents an opportunity to become the kind of leader who truly changes lives.
Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
Even in the midst of turmoil, keep the team focused on goals and strategy. Involve the team in setting and evolving the team’s vision and making progress toward it.
What to learn now: How to Create Honest Employee Trust and Empowerment
Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team
Roll up your sleeves and conduct work side-by-side with the team, when needed. Understand the specific challenges of the work.
The bottom line
The examples of people management are all around us. All we have to do is be open minded in how we look and how we apply the best lessons learned.
Now it’s your turn. What are the brand marketing ideas you have seen lately?
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Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Are you devoting enough energy continually improving your continuous learning?
Do you have a lesson about making your learning better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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