Time, your best investment in becoming a great leader
The Covid pandemic and extended remote working has highlighted the value of good leadership and also exacerbated where there were already problems. I have seen numerous news stories recently about companies struggling to keep junior staff engaged. I’ve heard from people feeling lost in their roles, particularly without the office camaraderie and support that might have masked this before. Rather than having to give out retention bonuses and perks, surely it would be better to invest in training better leaders?
Being the boss has a huge impact on your team. Good bosses will inspire a team to continually better levels of performance, bad ones will see things rapidly go in the other direction. This is consistent both in the office and when working remotely.
How do you become a great leader?
There’s a huge library of literature dedicated to being a great leader. It is something that many people aspire to and can be one of the most rewarding parts of the job. It’s not easy and if your experience is like mine, you’ll spend time second-guessing whether you’ve done the right thing or could have handled things differently. You will get things wrong but the most important aspect is to learn, adapt and crucially lead in a way that is authentic to you. You’ll never stop learning as you adapt to new situations and people.
There are some key aspects of leadership that most training programmes will include. These usually cover how to give feedback and how to have difficult conversations. They may cover communication tips, sharing your vision and ideas on how to drive engagement. These are useful tools to have at your disposal.
Personally, I believe the most important part is getting to know your team. You need to understand what makes them tick, why do they come to work? What do they find interesting and what do they find frustrating or boring? How do they like to be managed? How do they best communicate? What are their aspirations? Key is to realise that this might be quite different to you and your preferred approach and one size doesn’t fit all.
Yes, we all come to work to earn a salary, but for most people money in itself is not the driver but a means to an end. Understanding your team’s motivations and finding ways to engage them to move towards their aspirations will be far more successful in the long run than dishing out extra bonuses.
The team also wants to know you. They want to know how you tick, how you work and what you think. It is important to be visible to your team. I’m not suggesting you need to create a cult of personality around yourself but connecting with your team is key. A lot has been written about the importance of vulnerability, the first step is showing you are a fellow human!
This all takes time, to be a good leader you need to spend time focusing on your team, both individually and as a collective to make them as productive and engaged as possible. If you are a leader of leaders, making sure that your team are doing the same with their teams is key. Ask about more junior members of the team in your discussions, does your team member know how they are and what they want? Check it out, have regular discussions with the juniors too.
I believe these simple steps are key to having a positive, engaging experience at work and a motivated team. It will always be time well spent, regardless of the level you are operating at. I’d love to hear from people about where they have had great bosses and what it was that made them feel like that.
How can I help?
As you go through your leadership journey, I believe you can gain huge value from the support of a coach. Someone to bounce ideas off, discuss concerns with and challenge you to take on difficult decisions and conversations with confidence. I can provide a safe space to test ideas and different tools to be effective and authentic. Get in touch if this would help you.