It can be pretty lonely at the top when you get it wrong.
But when you get it right, being a manager of people can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that the people around me are motivated to be the best and most authentic version of themselves. After all these years, I seriously still get a kick out of every milestone, great or small, a member of my team achieves. I’m addicted to the feeling I get when my team walks in of a morning excited about the day ahead. Their happiness and their personal sense of achievement are absolutely, in every way, connected to the success of the businesses I have led.
Over the coming weeks, I’m going to share what I believe works. I’m going to ask you three hard-hitting questions for you to use as a leadership self-assessment tool. If you don’t like your answer, I’ll share with you what I’ve learned along the way. I encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences with my readers too as I certainly don’t have all the answers…. and therein lies the lesson!
1. Would one of your team members come to you easily to share a huge mistake?
Answering 'yes' means you’ve given your team the confidence to tell you when they’ve messed up. They know as long as they come to you with a solution to the problem and demonstrate what they’ve learned from the mistake, that you would never yell at them, be furious or embarrass them.
Good leaders know that permission to make mistakes creates an environment where people are more likely to be accountable for errors rather than sweeping them under the carpet for you to find later. The earlier you know about the problem, the quicker it gets fixed, and the more experienced your team members become. Of course, the other bonus is that your business gets to tweak it’s systems and processes, ultimately removing the likelihood of the mistake being repeated twice.
2. Do you encourage and empower your team to be the best they can be?
Not sure? How do you react when a team member completes a task sufficiently, but not as well as you could have? Do you openly show your disappointment when they don’t know the answer to your question? Do you tend to zoom in on what’s wrong with their work rather than what’s right? Achieving (or even over-achieving) business objectives is more often than not only achieved by a team that feels empowered.
Positive reinforcement; allowing a real sense of achievement to sink in, encourages the person to pursue outcomes previously thought to be out of their reach. Making someone feel good about themselves and their achievements is one of the most empowering tools you have as a leader. By simply doing so, you will trigger a desire in them to produce their best work, to remain committed to your business objectives and ultimately to you.
3. In team meetings do you do most of the talking?
You already know you’re good at what you do; that’s most likely why you’re the boss. Your goal as a team leader is to encourage free expression as the best ideas don’t always come from the people who are the most experienced or claim to have the expertise. They often come from the people who are encouraged to ask new questions, or who don’t accept the status quo. To help you encourage conversation, shy away from making statements and from doing all the talking.
Instead, be the leader who asks questions instead. Ask open-ended questions starting, for example, with how, who, what or why as this will encourage anything other than a yes or no answer. Be sure to ask a question of everyone sitting at the table, in no specific order, and openly acknowledge the positive in every answer to encourage the next person to open up. Every person sitting at the table should walk away from the meeting feeling that they contributed to the outcome of the meeting and feel inspired to execute the agreed ideas.
Mistakes? I’ve made plenty of them! The result? I can confidently say I’ve contributed positively to the careers and daily work lives of many people I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and now I teach others to do the same. Sometimes the problems you’re experiencing internally can be removed quite painlessly via leadership self-awareness exercises such as this one. However, when more is needed, Creative Recruiters is well equipped to provide staff engagement and retention strategies designed to give you the tools you need to be the most empowering leader you can be.
If you’ve been brave enough to put some of these leadership tips into action, be sure to share your results with me. I know I certainly don’t have all the answers, but together we can certainly give this leadership thing a good crack!
Have a great week everyone!
Director – Creative Recruiters
m: +61 413 453 563
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