As a Management Consultant most of the time when clients brief me about challenges within their departments/organization I’m quick to ask about Management. It is a custom for Managers to quickly diagnose their teams and recommend quick fixes without acknowledging that they (Managers) could be the problem.
I believe that every team generally moves at the pace of its leadership. Be it an HoD, Supervisor or Manager. Yes, there could be individuals who are way ahead of their leaders by all standards but this takes a supportive leader without insecurity issues.
So whenever I hear of the term bottlenecks I first investigate the leadership. The top. That’s where you find the neck of the bottle anyway.
This however does not apply to every team that has issues. Granted there are amazing managers out there who only need to be empowered and given space to operate. There are organizations where a junior wields more power than their immediate boss. In such cases, the Manager is allowed to use the cliche “my hands are tied”. We shall talk about this and how important it is for Managers to have space another day. But chances are that behind every well-jelled, vibrant & productive team there is a good manager.
Teams thrive when their leaders make a deliberate actions to better each member and most importantly develop themselves as leaders knowing very well that each team is a reflection of its leader.
Here are three recommendations that will help managers develop their teams.
1. Change your mindset
If you have just been appointed into management from among other potential managers the first thing is to change your mindset. This doesn’t mean that you segregate yourself from your now juniors. It means your thinking, actions, motives and talks should be above board. Appreciate the fact that your team now reports to you and as such, you owe them a sense of direction coupled with humility. Humility because you actually need them more than they need you. They are now your customers. Set a new pace both for yourself and for your team knowing well that they will move at your pace. Your attitude too must change. Do you have to like everyone? No, but your position demands of it. John Maxwell says that you can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them. Does this include tough love?
2. Self Development
This is a personal initiative that starts way before one is appointed to a management position. The desire to do more, be more and add value to yourself and those around you. This can be done by reading books, asking developmental questions, pushing yourself by taking on new and challenging tasks and getting a coach/ mentor who pushes you and holds you accountable among others. In my opinion, one must always anticipate a promotion. If you are in one position (junior to be exact) for a long time – 5 years according to me, then something is wrong. The way you carry out yourself will in itself attract that position so much so that when you get it you are not shocked. The organization also has a role to play in developing its leaders or those she appoints to represent her. Seek training opportunities and interaction with your peers in other organizations. And while at this point, it is prudent to mention the criteria used by organizations to ascend people into leadership positions. Whilst different organizations handle this differently, competence in itself is not enough to qualify one for a Leadership position.
3. People Skills
The easiest way to lead people is to know them. Know them so well that you can almost predict their next move in any given circumstance. This in itself is not easy given the dynamics that exist in human beings. You must work at it. Pinch your nose every day telling yourself – you should know people. Seek to develop your emotional intelligence. Work at it day and night for therein lies the key to your success as a leader in whatever position. Emotional intelligence gives you several cards of power but most importantly knowing when to pull out which card and to whom. It will teach you not to treat everybody the same simply because you don’t want to play favouritism or because they all belong to one team. The relationship you have with your team will inform them of how far an extra mile they can go for you. Their willingness to take a bullet for you too depends on the interpersonal relationship you will have built over time. Pinch yourself on the nose again.
A New Experiential Learning kit is now available for Management Teams. This activity complete with strategies and action plans takes between 45 minutes to 5 hours and can be done in the comfort of your offices or at strategic planning retreats. Book this Learning kit today to enhance your managers’ resilience, agility and problem-solving skills.