Tips for first time leaders
By Susan Bagyura - New
leaders are continually emerging and asking me what they can do to adapt to
their new roles. Below are 10 more tips in this two-part series to help leaders
1. Prove Yourself
So often you will find people like having a title more than doing the work required to keep it. Your CV and credentials might be impressive, but they’ll only win respect for so long. Start by learning what your people do; understand the people, responsibilities, systems, and schedules that drive their day. Don’t hide in your office; jump into the trenches, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. Show you can step in and do their job if need be. Prove that you can get things done by achieving some victories in areas where things are stuck.
2. Be an Example
Your people will mirror you by adopting your attitudes and anxieties — consciously or not. Be aware of the image you project at all times and be an example. Your behaviours should convey a calm confidence. When you make a mistake (and you will); take responsibility so your people do the same. Follow your own rules, knowing no job or rule is beneath you. Be approachable and positive at all times. At a minimum, your people should respect you. At best, they should aspire to be like you. People watch what you do more than they listen to what you say. Always walk the walk.
As the leader, you set the tone and pace and they feed off you. Generate a positive environment. Praise and recognise the behaviours that you want to see. Make it public so the entire team and/or organisation know it. Reward your staff for their excellence with unexpected treats like a free lunch, a few hours off or the best parking space for a month. Expose them to best practices. Assign projects to foster collaboration and closer relationships within your team. Bottom line: Reinforce every day why they are valuable members of your team.
4. Treat Them Like Adults
Ask questions to draw out the best from your people rather than just telling them what to do. Help them develop skills to resolve problems or issues on their own. If conflicts arise, examine all issues from all sides instead of making snap judgments. Respect their time by always being prepared, relevant, and to the point in your dealings. Don’t micromanage unless they’re not meeting expectations. Set boundaries, but be flexible. Keep an open mind. Don’t be afraid to accept input (or even criticism). Foster an environment of open communications.
5. Care About Them Personally
No one aspires to be a lousy manager. It’s often the accumulation of little things — careless comments or hypocritical acts — that erodes camaraderie and trust. Fortunately, little things like a private gesture or a kind word also set managers apart. So how can you strengthen your relationships? Start by learning what makes them tick. Are they looking for money, recognition, influence, or meaning? Who are their family members and pets? What are their interests? Most important, accept them for who they are. You won’t mold everyone into a superstar, but steady performers bring equal value over the long haul.
6. Be Honest, Open and Transparent
One absolute of leadership is that you must always be the bigger person. Establish your credibility by being what you want to see in your people. Say things as they are, while presenting solutions. Practising honesty in every part of your life would actually make life simpler. It’s often difficult to do at first because we’re so used to using our old programmed belief system as a crutch. Dishonesty complicates your life and traps you in a web of lies and pretenses that drains your energy. Being honest releases a great amount of energy and frees you from those unnecessary distractions that get in your way.
Stepping into a new leadership position is challenging. Understand that you don’t know everything; in fact no one expects you to have all the answers, and you’ll only hurt your team by pretending to know more than you do. Instead check your ego at the door. Recognise your shortcomings and your reports’ strengths, and capitalise on them. When it’s beneficial; delegate and let them lead, checking in and providing counsel from time to time. Be willing to learn from them while leading the process.
8. Provide Ongoing Communication
Your employees’ perception of you can be your biggest asset or drawback. You can reinforce a good impression by reaching out and keeping everyone informed. Set aside time for direct report to provide guidance and support. Collectively, keep them current on company developments and share what you’re doing to help them. Maintain a two-way dialogue and seek feedback on what’s important to them. You’re now responsible for others, and they need to know you’re watching out for their interests.
9. Be Consistent
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your title will automatically give you respect. One of the surest way to gain respect is to be consistent. People must be able to rely on how you will react under a variety of situations. They should be able to view you as a patient person who will provide a fair hearing and honest feedback. Otherwise, they’ll invariably tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear. Silence is a far greater threat to any leader rather than candor.
10. Reflect on Your Employees
Leadership sometimes may seem like a thankless job. If you experience times when you are not getting the results or the support from your staff that you expect, then do some soul searching. Have you lost sight of the big picture and started focusing on looking good over helping others to succeed. Begin each day by asking yourself what you can do to bring out the best in your employees. Keep your focus on developing and supporting them.
(To listen to this week’s article, please go to http://www.susanbagyura.com/audio/newleadertipsP2.html.
Susan Bagyura, a leadership/business coach and author of The Visionary Leader: How to Inspire Success From The Top Down. Visit her website: http://susanbagyura.com/ )
More Leadership articles from Susan Bagyura:
Inspiring story: The Pebbles
Inspiring story: Be Patient
Inspiring story: Two angels
Inspiring story: Fence
Motivational story: Burned Biscuits
Death and Worry
The one armed Judo champion
The frail old man and the wooden bowl
A Miracle for a Dollar and Eleven Cents
How much music can you make?
Laksmi Mittal- Business man and Europe's richest man
Inspiration: Sinduthai sapkal
Inspiration: Bhavna Botta
Inspiring story: An Auto rickshaw driver
Inspiring story: The obstacle in our path
Inspiring story: Motivation
Inspiring story: Father's love for his son
Paid in full with one glass of milk
The Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Cups of Coffee
The Moth and The Cocoon
The Son and the Painting
Milkha Singh- One of the greatest athletes of India
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