The journal. A great idea that began as a way to manage and control my schedule. It worked just fine but then the journal took on a life of its own. I began to analyze my decision making techniques and my management skills, creating an inventory if you will. This train of thought led me to list the best leaders I had worked for over the last twenty years and what the skills were that they leveraged to develop their teams. I began to list the great leaders in my most recent history. We aren’t talking about captains of industry like Steve Jobs or Ted Rogers, (I never had the privilege of working for these people) but more the leaders that I had reported to over the years (and as a consultant, that amounted to quite a few).
The great leaders had a few common traits. Possibly they had all read the same book on management skills but imagine the odds of that. Have you researched the number of management books on Amazon? Too numerous to mention. So what made these people great leaders?
1. Empowerment – This is an overused term and in most cases pure marketing fluff. I have worked for the managers that say they base their style on empowering their employees, but in reality they micromanage their teams and choke all the creativity out of the resource. If you are going to empower your employees then DO it.
2. Passion for Learning – The great leaders I have had the privilege of working for (or with) have all been lifelong learners. They continuously improve their knowledge base. They read voraciously, and they constantly ask questions. They learn from up and down the ladder. They seem to understand that they can collect new data from everywhere. I began to wonder if subconsciously my own reading appetite was driven by these great leaders.
3. Ability to Focus– I remember sitting in my boss’s office doing a project update he had scheduled. In the middle of my project summary, his phone rang and he answered it. That incident remained in my memory for many years and I began to expect that from my managers. Then one day (working for another manager) sitting in his office updating my project status, the phone rang. I stopped my report to allow him to answer the phone and he said “right now, you are the most important person in my schedule”. This also left a mark on my psyche. I decided to adopt this philosophy for myself.
4. Trust – This is a follow up to empowerment. When the manager allows the employee to make decisions they must trust that the employee has been trained to make these decisions and as such the employee feels supported. The employee recognition needs to be there as well for this to be successful. Pass on the accolades.
This list is by no means complete but it is a great start. Leaders gain skills every day and use the skills to their best advantage. For a manager to become a proficient leader takes practice. It takes consistent use and repetition with all staff, not just a chosen few. If you are a manager I invite you to leverage this information. If you are an employee and you work for a manager that espouses these traits hang on to them for a long as you can and learn from them, then pass the knowledge on to your own staff and build a great team.
Team Leadership training is one of the offerings provided by Logixsource. Our Team Leadership training concentrates on communication, vision, motivation and organizational skills. Contact Heather Cartwright or Scott Savage to learn how you can become a great leader.