If you want to increase your staff’s performance you should first take a close look at yourself: how much of a leader are you? Don’t worry – you don’t need to be born as a leader. Effective leadership is a skill consisting of some key methodologies that you can learn. We will deal with them in a couple of minutes. But first, let’s turn to…
Why leadership at all? Do we really need leaders?
Why leadership at all? Well, as soon as you’ve got more than two people in one organization were working together to achieve a name, leadership will be necessary and involved. Leadership is always necessary if there is a goal to achieve which is too complex to be achieved by one senior person. Thus, the goal of leadership there is to gain an impact on the behavior of individuals and groups, so a predefined goal can be achieved.
Therefore, we need leaders were able to dispatch tasks and projects onto the members of a group or organization so that each and every person can bring in his or her strengths to the best of the results. This, in turn, requires coordination: the leader will be required to make sure, that each group can finish its tasks based on goal-oriented action.
One of the key issues here is the motivation of the staff. Before despatching any tasks, it is crucial to introduce and constantly remind the team of the common goals and how they are worth pursuing. If, for example, our organization has to go to produce the sleekest cars they are in the market, there is a whole a lot of energy that every group member can take from it.
This brings us to goal orientation: maybe you have seen it in an organization: the to and fro, rushing around, but the goals are not clear. Mark Twain once said. When they lost track of the goal they doubled their efforts. This is not far-fetched – it is straight from reality.
Now let’s turn to quit your points when it comes to effective leadership. Here are some of the key methodologies to be aware of and to learn.
Trust – or: why delegation can destroy everything
Trust is the basis of all effective leadership. If your employees don’t trust you, they won’t tell you about their mistakes, they won’t open up for you to support them to get better, and they won’t do their best to do their work. Let’s start with common mistakes, which tend to create mistrust and block any effective leadership. Many people in leadership positions may act at times in a cynical or sarcastic way. Just think of your employees like children in this situation: they can’t read your irony or sarcasm if they don’t get the message from your property respectively they don’t understand the topic as you do. The other thing is to first delegate tasks to your direct reports, only to micromanage them later – asking them in short intervals “how they are doing”. This will create thinking on the other end of the message such as why is he giving me this task in the first place if he doesn’t trust me to be able to complete it? Try to set yourself a “control date”, to review your direct reports results and to have some buffer time to make amendments. What’s more, don’t tear strips off someone in front of a group of people. When you criticize someone, always criticize up their behavior rather than the person. There’s a lot to be said about trust, so I can only give you an introduction to the topic in this post – if you want to learn more, please follow the follow-up articles in this series and sign up to our free executive education series.
Being authentic– or: why a democratical leadership style is not always the best
Being authentic is directly related to creating trust. If you are authentic, you won’t be changing your mind every minute. Everyone can see, that you have a red thread, some guiding principles that you are acting according to, your own values, your beliefs, the way for a deal with issues and with people. Being authentic means, that you are predictable to other people, so they can trust what they can say to you. Just to avoid misunderstanding: Of course, you can change your mind, of course, you can change direction if you have the feeling not progress as you had planned. But being authentic means, that the big things in your leadership are aligned. Your leadership style should fit your personality. The frequently cite democratic leadership style only makes sense if it fits with your characteristics. If you have led people with strong authority over the course of the years, people won’t just be buying in if you suddenly try the schmooze course. If you want to develop into this direction, you may want to take one step at a time and get your staff used to it along the way.
Show the direction – or: why working ever more efficiently it just doesn’t make sense
Many leaders simply throw tasks at their people, telling them what to do, until when, and providing some resources. This is certainly not a bad idea, however before that your direct reports need some direction. Think of motivation and make a change of perspective, see things through the eyes of your employees: why should they do the task in the first place? What outcome needs to be achieved? And why? How does that one person who is doing the task create something much bigger together with others were working on complementing tasks? Where is the “we”? For your staff, just working on task after tiles are like being in a thread mill like a hamster in the wheel. One of the key de-motivators is not being able to make any sense of one’s own work. Is not efficiency, or in other words how to do things right, which is most important. First of all, it is effectiveness, creating an impact and an important one that, to making priorities, selecting according to tasks and carrying them out. Efficiency alone is a dead-end.
Build on key strengths of each of your employees – or: why it is not effective to fix weaknesses
Know thy team is the core message here. Far too many people try to eliminate their weaknesses, which is not very effective. Rather they should know and use key strengths, own ones and the ones of their direct reports – and at the same time find a way to manage their weaknesses. Here is an example: a head of sales is very strong in motivating sales representatives but quite weak when it comes to figuring out the numbers. Because he knows that, he finds someone in the team who is particularly good with numbers and Excel sheets. So he delegates the task of creating reports – on key topics that he will still define – to that selected person. The employee will be highly motivated, the leader’s weakness is effectively managed through delegation, and the overall results will be far better. As Peter Drucker once said: it is your key task as a leader to make sure that the key strengths of everyone on your team are being used effectively – and that their weaknesses become irrelevant.
Communicate effectively – or: why email is dangerous
Commutation skills are crucial for every leader. This doesn’t mean, that you have to be an outgoing person if you want to lead effectively. Can use your strengths such as outlined above and make them work for you. It, for example, you are an introverted person, why not create goals and some performance indicators first and then left people to follow them? That way you can avoid the pep talk that you fear so much because it is just not you. There are some general rules on coming occasion when constant leadership that I will write about him further postings. Here are some ideas to start with: before you communicate, try to figure out whether you want to talk or write to one, few or many people. When it comes to talking, one of the advantages is obviously that you will be able to use your body language and that people can read your face, that further, you can use the tone of your voice to make things clear. You can do that either in person or on the telephone. When it comes to writing, beware of the email, probably the single most dangerous communication means when it comes to creating misunderstandings. Don’t get me wrong: we do need emails. Be aware, however, that an email is still a letter, even if an electronic one at that. But what many people are doing wrong is to let go of their impulses, only to have them documented and forwarded as people wish to, sometimes with serious consequences. Sometimes you will prefer the confidential one-on-one, in other situations it makes more sense to have a team workshop or even to all the small speech in front of all employees. We will go to that later. Just one more thing here: trying to figure out first what you want to convey. Think of the principle that many journalists use and a first create a headline, then the lead paragraph summarising everything and only then provide some details.
I will elaborate further on this main topic further in the following blog postings of this series. If you are interested, please do feel free to register to our executive education series.
Would you like further information? Do you have questions or suggestions? We look forward to your call, email or letter. You can contact us via the following methods:
Jens Moeller Consulting Ltd.
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