As a first-time manager, the learning curve can be a steep one. Knowing how to adapt to challenges can help you grow as a manager and team leader.
Leadership is a skill that can be developed. But what exactly is leadership? COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sanberg describes leadership as, “making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”
For those new to managing people, this fundamental concept of making others better is a great place to start from as you develop your own leadership style.. Below, we explore some tools and strategies that can help your team thrive.
It’s important that your team members have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them on a day-to-day basis. If expectations are unclear, team members can be unsure of their expected level of productivity and can fall behind in their tasks.
If you’re able to help set and communicate both your and your team members’ expectations, an effective work ethic can be maintained in regard to completion times.
If anyone on your team needs help, it’s better to work with them to understand areas they need to improve in, rather than fixing their mistakes – this is a common mistake new leaders make. You may think it’s easier to fix it or do it yourself, but this doesn’t help your team improve – all it serves to do is overburden you. By giving them more detailed and constructive feedback, in a one-on-one session, for example, you can help them see what needs to be worked on. Then, team members can bring what they learned to their next task.
Constructive feedback also doesn’t have to be a one-way instruction – listening to what your team members have to say is also crucial. It can help you to understand how their decision-making process works. Being sincere and genuine is one way that you can help team members absorb your feedback and have them grow their capabilities.
In order to maximise your team’s potential, it’s really important to spend time getting to know them as individuals. Understanding their strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes – as well as what’s going on in their lives outside of work – gives you an integral scope as to how they behave in a team setting. This helps to create a profile for each of your team members, by illustrating what projects they should be assigned based on their talents, rather than ones that don’t suit their skills.
One of the easiest ways to build trust within your team is to allow for open communication. This extends to not only being transparent with your team members but also developing trust and empathy from one team member to another.
By employing a buddy system, where team members have an assigned person to check in with over a coffee and talk about their week, you can continue to build strong working relationships within your team. This is something that you as a manager can take part in as well, admitting mistakes or things you’re still working on. This helps to remove the omnipotent leader cliché that can alienate team members and prevent them from buying into what you believe in.
Including team members in important meetings – even if it’s just ‘as a fly on the wall’ – can be very empowering. It also highlights your colleague’s sense of value to the business, showing that their opinions and thoughts are important. This can inspire further personal growth and allow team members to grow into future leadership roles.
Even though you’re a leader, you don’t have to know everything. Rather than save face by struggling through issues, ask for help. This is a humanising act of strength, much the same as admitting mistakes. Asking for help allows your colleagues to see that you’re just another member of the team who sometimes needs help with a project. Whether that’s reaching out to a mentor for guidance, or asking a talented team member with skills in a certain area to help with a decision, reaching out for help is a sign of a modern and inclusive leader.
American management consultant, educator and author Peter Drucker said, “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” Great leadership and learning go hand in hand, as even the most experienced managers thrive by continual improvement.
You can grow your leadership skills in a number of ways, including seminars, workshops, conferences and further tertiary study, all of which can maximise your potential, as well as that of those around you.