Assuming you’re in a leadership role in your life—what type of leader are you? Would you want to work for or follow someone like you?
Aligning with who you are today as a leader and who you want to be, if a gap exists, is an essential and necessary step. Here are some ideas to get you going.
The following piece includes excerpts from my #1 bestselling book, Fearless Women at Work: Five Powerful Strategies to Thrive in Your Career and Life!
Mentor & Sponsor Others
I’ve discussed in previous articles the importance of leaning on mentors and sponsors. What about you, are you mentoring or sponsoring others within or outside the company?
There are always people coming up behind you—people starting at the firm, a team member, a direct report. In the same way that you have benefited from the support of a mentor or sponsor, these people would benefit from your support.
Develop Your Team
When it comes to developing your team members, (the people who work for you), how would you rate yourself? Are you doing a great job or barely getting by?
Many companies don’t have a structured developmental program in place. Performance review processes can be haphazard, and some managers do it because they have to—they don’t see the value it provides to the recipient, the employee. And to help these employees develop:
Are you giving employees constructive feedback throughout the year?
Are you helping them expand their skills, providing in-house or external training as needed?
Do you ask them what they want, how things are working for them, what they want to achieve?
I’m a firm believer that employees don’t engage when they don’t feel taken care of by their leadership team, (therefore the company).
As leaders, our companies and we have a lot to gain by showing our employees that we care about them, that we care about their success along with caring about the success of the company.
The obvious benefit of connecting with employees in this manner is higher employee engagement and all related benefits—engaged employees are involved, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and results.
According to Gallup’s State of the American Workforce 2017 report, engaged employees are more likely to stay with their organizations, lowering overall turnover and associated costs. They are more effective brand ambassadors, as they feel a stronger bond to their organization’s mission and purpose. They also help increase sales and profitability by building stronger relationships with customers.
Monitor Your Management Style
What’s your management style?
Have you ever worked for a micromanager—somebody who’s often looking over your shoulder or questions your every move? I have, and it’s no fun. Depending on your personality, you may thrive working for a micromanager if you like to be handheld every step of the way.
If you are a micromanager, do the people who work for you perform well, or are they struggling?
My management style is to build an independent team that works well together, meaning every person within the team can carry his or her weight while collaborating and contributing to the team's efforts.
One of my priorities when managing a team is to mitigate risks that can otherwise affect the work we do. Thus, I like my team members to be cross-trained, so that if someone is out or wins the lottery, the rest of the team can proceed to do the work that we're meant to be doing.
What about work schedule flexibility?
I know this varies drastically from company to company based on established policies or not.
Are you personally responsible for promoting a flexible or rigid work culture?
Are you focusing on results or facetime?
Are you treating everyone fairly, or do you play favorites?
As a leader, are you grooming your successor?
What!? For some, their approach plays into this myth: “If I’m the only person who knows how to do this job really well, and I’m heavily valued, they'll need me here, and I'll have job security.”
Let’s bust this myth; what’s the inverse of that?
If you are the only person who knows what you know and the only person who can make your team work well and succeed, guess what? You can’t be promoted. The company needs you to do the job that only you can do so well.
To move up when the opportunity arises, if that’s what you desire, you may want to think about your succession plan. Begin by cultivating your team, and there’s usually one or two people who exude those leadership skills that qualify them to one day replace you. Of course, only do this if you wish to go to the next level; otherwise, if you don't want to grow, you can do precisely that.
What qualities do you admire in people who have led you?
Whatever those qualities are, do more of that.
Personally, when I think of the leaders I admire most, they are those who appreciate and value my work. It’s those who I can connect with and get to know on a human level, those who elevate me through their support, belief, and trust in me.
Let me ask you, how do you elevate others around you?
Early in my management career, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t showing my team members that I trusted them. At the time, my perspective was that as the leader of the team, I was ultimately responsible for the quality of the team’s work.
When they showed me their work, rather than review it and hand it back to them with my suggestions, I would take it upon myself to make it better, to add more value.
A resource that I find priceless and recommend to leaders is Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter’s book, What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful. The authors call this behavior “adding too much value.”
In my example, it may take a little extra time to finalize the work, but that short extra time is worth it as your team members get to own the final product.
Bring Out The Best in Them
As a leader, how do you bring out the best in your employees?
These strategies are some of my favorites.
I let them know what I see in them, what I appreciate about them.
When in meetings, I let others contribute their ideas without shooting them down.
When you don’t hear ideas from your team, ask yourself, “How am I contributing to this situation?” Check in and ask yourself, “How am I reacting when a team member shares? What kind of comments do I make?” And you may learn that you’re the culprit, your reactions or follow-up comments.
Solicit input from the team and encourage team members to share their ideas, especially women, who when outnumbered by men, sometimes tend to hold back.
The other two factors influencing collective intelligence—social perceptiveness, or social sensitivity of group members, and the number of women, whom on average score higher on social perceptiveness—I will be writing about in a future article, stay tuned.
Give credit where credit is due, generously. This is important in a team environment. It lets your team know you value and appreciate their efforts.
And how do you handle conflict?
Do you avoid it at all costs even when it's evident that conflict exists among team members? Or, do you face the discomfort and nip it in the bud, clear the air, and move on?
Another reference I recommend regarding team dysfunctions is a book by Patric Lencioni titled, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Lencioni’s model highlights fear of conflict as one of the five dysfunctions.
In A Nutshell
When you get clear on the qualities you admire in a leader, ask yourself, “How am I embodying and living those qualities with my team?”
What you learn about yourself and the gaps you discover are GOLD.
Now you can influence and impact your outcome whether it is to continue doing what you’ve been doing or to stop doing what you’ve been doing and to start doing something different.
Every day we have a fresh opportunity to reset, to learn from the lessons in the past and set our trail for the future ahead.
What do you see when you envision the kind of career and life you want to create for yourself?
As leaders, it always starts with us.
As your own leader, know your preferences and how you influence and impact those around you, including your family, team, clients, and community.
In the meantime…
Be fearless! (act despite the fear)
Dr. Ginny Baro is a Fortune 100 international executive coach for talented professionals at all levels of management, a speaker, and #1 bestselling author of Fearless Women at Work. Visit www.fearlesswomenatwork.com to learn more.
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