So you employ a group of guys who you proudly call your ‘team’ which you are the manager and leader of, and you are confident that they respect you as their boss – but is ‘managing’ a team, the same as ‘leading’ a team? And will you get different outcomes from either approach?
No doubt you do have great leadership skills and much of this will be second nature to you, but is there room for growth? Let’s assume your team performs relatively well, your staff turnover is no better or worse than most teams and generally everyone seems to give you the respect you feel you deserve. But could your team give you more, and is their performance a direct reflection of your ‘leadership’ capabilities?
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – famously quoted by Dwight D. Eisenhower, this surely is the key to having a super high performing team who will stop at nothing to achieve your goals?
So how can we all be leaders in this way? Well first lets understand some of the key differences between ‘Managers’ and ‘Leaders’:
A leader develops and builds, the manager maintains.
A leader invests in his people, a manager invests systems & processes.
A leader inspires and originates, a manager imitates him and makes demands.
A leader challenges the status quo, a manager operates within the existing situation.
A leader isn’t afraid to anything the team do, and often will put aside his own work and get involved, managers feel this is not appropriate
When times are tough a leader will stand on the front line of battle, a manager will step back and observe and instruct from afar
A leader will have the team’s absolute support, whereas the manager might feel his team aren’t committed to the cause.
A manager says ‘Go’, a leader says ‘Lets go’
Do any of these points ring true? I am sure many of us have felt some of all of these from time to time, I certainly have and have reflected on how I can be more of a leader than a manager.
So, if you are a manager who does things right, now is the time to become a leader and do the right thing. Here are some tips that should help develop or sharpen your leadership skills:
1) Share your vision:
Have a vision of how you see the team and its performance along with your organisational goals. Share this with your team so each and every one of them understand their role and your’s, offer the opportunity for team members to step up and make them all accountable to each other creating a more cohesive environment.
2) Trust people and give them freedom:
A leader trusts his people to deliver. He does not micro-manage or stand over the team. His job is to positively influence his people in order for them to deliver results. Delegate responsibilities and give people the opportunity to utilise their expertise to their best judgment. However, it is important that you clearly spell out the goals before delegating.
3) Listen, learn and understand:
A leader knows that he does not always have all the solutions but will work to get the right outcomes to a problem. He will first take feedback (by listening carefully), asks questions, evaluates the situation, and then makes decisions. He knows that he can make mistakes and learn from them and he also knows that a brilliant idea can come from anyone in the team. Listen more than you talk, and when you make decisions you can be sure they are based on fact and evidence, your team will then respect your decisions.
4) Take action with responsibility:
Leaders make decisions and act on them. The actions will be for the greater good of the team and you will explain to the team your rationale for your decisions. If the decision does not work, a leader will assume full responsibility. They then go back to the drawing board, learn what went wrong, and then make the necessary changes. Shoulder the responsibility, and show your team that you too can learn and grow.
5) The motivator and the backbone:
The leader provides a cushion to his team members. He empowers and motivates, along with guiding and coaching them, and clearly outlines their individual goals along with the overall team’s goal. He creates an environment in which it is easy for them to succeed. And when they deliver, he rewards them by giving praise, recognition and after continued long term high performance he provides monetary and status reward through cash bonuses and maybe even offering a promotion along the way.
6) Be sincere and genuine:
A leader is true to himself and to his team. He is passionate about the organisation’s goals and sincerely goes about achieving them. You too should be honest to your team and realise your own shortcomings. Be confident, honest and respectful of others; use your integrity as you lead your team towards the organisational goal.
In summary, leadership is about having a vision, empowering the team to be a part of that vision and providing an environment in which it is easy for the individuals in the team to succeed. It is also about taking responsibility for your actions as the head member of the team and working with integrity, transparency, honesty and respect for each team member.
If you can achieve all of this then you will be a genuine leader of people and you will reap the benefits by having a high performing team and your business will prosper.
Author: Paul Simms is an executive recruiter with 15 years of experience across the Australian and UK markets. He is the founder of Wright Executive a specialist business within the Accounting and Professional Services sector.