To organize their team and carry it forward to greatness, managers and business owners must have excellent leadership skills. Forms of leadership vary, but all require explicit, consistent management, and leaders must calmly deal with change and disagreement on the fly.
Robb Misso believes in creating a work culture that empowers all members of an organization, and he has been recognized for his compassionate, results-oriented leadership in this regard. Below, Mr. Misso, a dynamic leader, and CEO, details five lively leadership leads to launch your team’s potential:
Take a Stand
At all costs, a good manager avoids the wishy-washy wallowing of indecision and waffling. The old saying goes that any decision is better than no decision, and this holds for much of business. When there are problems, and you sit there doing nothing, changing nothing, the issues will only fester. Don’t avoid issues and challenges; take them head on and take a stand. Inspire trust with clear and respected goals, tapping into your team’s emotion to do good.
Bad decisions are better than no decisions, but any manager can make bad decisions arbitrarily from instinct. They’ll become known as quick on their feet, but they often crash and burn.
Reminding yourself of your goals is the first step in making any decision. Create a systematic planto achieve these aims. Change this plan on the fly if needed, but don’t make changes arbitrarily. Always keep your goals in mind.
Take advantage of opportunities in leadership positions to champion a group of hard workers. Take an interest in their goals and help them with advice from your own experience. If they prove themselves worthy, assist them to move up into higher positions.
Don’t be afraid of the skills of your team and potential thought leaders. Renaissance realist Niccolo Machiavelli writes, “the first thing one does to evaluate the wisdom of a ruler is examine the men that he has around him.”
Some managers, so intent on keeping their position, devalue their team members to reduce threats to their power. However, skilled team members, feeling undervalued or put upon, abandon these cynical managers, leaving a team of incompetents and yes men.
Your inner group of experienced team members becomes your go-to when identifying problems. If productivity is down, sick rates are up; if your team members are otherwise showing signs of discontent, ask your inner group directly where the resentment is originating. Is it from unrealistic expectations? Or unclear goals?
Leaders must encourage honesty and disagreement when necessary. That can be difficult, because as Machiavelli writes, “men delight so much in their own concerns,” but if you surround yourself with flatterers and yes-men, you’ll end up blind to the real workings of your workplace, and blind to the faults in your goals and plans.
Encourage team members, especially in your inner group, to answer directly and honestly when asked a direct question. Set specific times in meetings for people to voice their thoughts freely within reason.
Upon disagreement, find a top-level “alignment” of opinion, such as a common goal, suggests leadership experts Karen and Henry Kimsey-House. Work back down from this alignment towards the point of contention. Logically assess the different approaches to find a compromise towards forward action.
However, be careful not to lose control, warns Machiavelli. If you let others walk all over you, appearing to control your decisions, you’ll lose the respect of your team. Instead, accept the opinions of others and consider them in your own time to show your thoughtful, diligent leadership.
After finally deciding on a clear course, some managers then go overboard with unrealistic expectations and goals that are too broad and unattainable. Their teams never meet these goals, which saps morale. Productivity falls, and discontent grows as teams come to hate their leader for being unfair. Team members get “sick” more often. They only work to avoid being fired.
For a happy, healthy team, your goals and expectations must be realistic. Start with knowable goals, and gradually increase your expectations as team members get a handle on things. Avoid unhelpful expectations that only contain the trappings of success, such as long hours without reason. People might show up to work, but that doesn’t mean they’re working.
If you set your goals at realistic levels and are clear about what you expect of your workers, they will respect your vision and the stability it provides. Knowing what to expect every day will make them confident at work, increasing their productive work time.
If you treat your team like children, they will act like children. They will act out and become obstructive. Give your team members the freedom they need to do the work required. Don’t try to micro-manage their projects; they’ll resent you for getting in their way and for not trusting them.
Keep on top of your employees, but don’t constantly get in their hair. Don’t always shove them aside in a huff if they don’t understand the first time. Calmly explain again, and if they really can’t handle it, remove them if you can.
If you are clear in your goals–and the consequences for missing them are fair and well-defined–your best team members will do great work, and the poor performers will quickly show themselves for what they are. An environment of dynamic, logical decision defined by clear goals creates a team that respects and trusts their leader.
- Barry, Norma. People Management in a Week. London: John Murray Learning, 2016.
- Karen Kimsey-House, Henry Kimsey-House. Co-Active Leadership. Oakland: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc, 2015.
- Machiavelli, Niccolo. “The Prince.” The Portable Machiavelli. Ed. Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa. New York: Viking Penguin, 1979.