Sunday, November 30, 2008

The leaders' inner strength

We have spoken at length over the last few months about being the best leader we can by using all our skills to energise and enthuse our teams. Your skills depend on your strength, the strength to evaluate, the strength to communicate in a clear and unambiguous manner. The strength to maintain your vision for the team is paramount to your success rather than follow the pack.

When you determine your vision for the team, you will find many times that you'll need to test your inner strength to remain focused. Do you have the strength to paint this vision, to remind your team why they are important, how the team contributes to the goals. When people disagree are you strong to argue your case and support it with facts and your vision of success.

When morale in your team wanes due to internal or external pressures are you available to your team members to help them see that what they are doing is positive and helps the whole team to move forward. Are you there to create some team building ideas and maintain the morale. Obviously this can be tough, if you looked at the current gloom and doom from the financial fallout many of our team members will be effected and their morale will be dented, again we need to draw on our strength to examine the facts and maintain the team morale.

When communicating with your team are you careful to deliver your messages in a positive manner, do you draw on your inner strength to raise your team up. Should your team members argue and fight, do you stand strong and fair to ensure issues are dealt with the animosity is arrested.

When tough decisions need to be taken are you fair and consistent in reaching your decision, when you need to deliver bad news are you straight and honest with your team members. You will need every once of inner strength to work through these issues, however if you stay strong, true and honest with your team they will respect you for your strength in dealing with them.

Great leaders are strong people who rely on their strength for the good of their teams. As you develop as a leader take the time to look and develop your inner strength and your team will appreciate it and follow you willingly.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The leader's Passion

Are you passionate about what your team does? With lots of doom and gloom in the press, it's important that we as leaders stand up and demonstrate our passion for our team, our job and especially our people.

The more you demonstrate your passion for the team's efforts the more this will rub off onto your team members and help them maintain their passion. It's too easy for everyone in the team to pickup the negative vibes and start believing they apply to them. This will have a serious impact, as once the passion is gone, then the desire to work hard and push through any challenges is also eroded away.

Take some time to assess your product, your output levels, the quality of your products and services. Be sure to rekindle your passion for all the aspects in your workplace and then most importantly share that passion among your team. Remember to be genuine in how you demonstrate your passion and don't give the impression of just blowing smoke or you risk some damage as you may be seen as being less than honest.

As leaders we need to be passionate about our team's jobs and we need to show this passion to inspire the team to greater results.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Good leaders don't over promise

Guess we've all seen the press in the last six months, and notice there have been quite a few countries running elections. Now the financial mess is starting to be better understood it will be interesting to see who made promises they cannot possibly keep. The voters of many countries in the next year may reflect and wonder what happened to some of these promises.

But more importantly as leaders of our own teams, are we vigilant when we make promises to our team members??

Before we make any promises, we need to check, do I really need to offer this? Am I absolutely certain I can fulfill my side of the bargain? What would be the difference in the outcome if I didn't make this promise? When we stop and assess the impact before we make any promises it will allow us to appreciate what it is that we are proposing.

Personally I know over the years many of my previous managers have promised certain things, yet as it transpired they did not have control to make the promises good. What was the result? Obviously some frustration, but the more damaging outcome was that their credibility was eroded. The next time such a promise was offered I was in no way as obliging to accept the challenge.

As good leaders we need to be sure that we can deliver on what we offer, because failure to do so will damage us greatly in the long term.

So next time you start to promise something take a moment and think - will this be a positive experience for all involved.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Goals and Roles within your team

We have talked about setting a vision over the last few posts, today I want to move on to what do we do with this vision. You may recall I suggested that its a good practice to write your vision out so it's straight forward and succinct.

Given you have the vision for your team what's the next step?

Next we need to define the roles each team member plays within our team, some members will naturally fall into various roles - some productive and some not so productive.
Roles relate to the position or major task and often different roles maybe allocated to the same person. Don't be afraid to recognise some roles that are not strictly job related, such as the person who is the organiser, the person who explores their environment looking at the way things are done and so on.

There is a great chance that as the leader for this team you will have several roles, you need to ensure you recognise these. Perhaps in addition to leading the team you also have to ensure the invoices and receipts are done. Another of your roles is to maintain and promote morale within the group.

Now you have defined all the roles each member in your team plays you can start to look at assigning goals to each role so that the team can move in line with the vision.

Take care with people who have multi-faceted roles to not over-burden them with to many corresponding sets of goals. Aim for the main points. If you can get each role within your team aligned towards your vision you will have a great team result.

Set goals for yourself and your team members, it is OK to openly relate your goals to your team members as this way they will feel that they are aiding in the accomplishment of these higher order goals.

Some goals will be personal whilst other will apply to the team, it tends to be best to concentrate on the team goals and only have 1-2 individual goals. If the team feel they are all pulling together then they will respond in a more cohesive way.

Now we have taken our vision and extrapolated it out to a set of goals for each team member and all the business roles your team needs to support. Take stock and look at what the cost is for each member to fulfill their goals, take a moment to have a sanity check on:

  • time it will take - particularly the individual goals,
  • effort on their behalf - is this within their capabilities,
  • productivity effects when you ask members to concentrate on a goal, and
  • how will it affect the team morale when viewed by the other members going about their efforts towards their goals.

Goals and roles are a critical area for us to consider as we move to better align our team towards achieving the vision.

Have you been through this process with your team, its a lot harder than it sounds, but definitely worthwhile, maybe you have some tricks and tips to share?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Improve your leadership, improve your business

Some interesting times ahead as we watch the outfall of the financial crisis spread around the globe. I hope you've taken to time to see if you are future proofed or if you need to turn your hand to a new job or even a new career. We have all heard for years that it is important for us to invest in our own skills so we can be versatile and in a position to take on whatever life throws at us.

An area that appears to be catching a lot of attention at the moment are those people who have been laid off and have decided to build their own business, some have opted for a bricks and mortar business while many have moved to a web based business. So we spent some hard time, effort and money to get things up and running, now it comes down to our leadership and business skills to keep it moving and generating cash.

One of the critical areas to consider is our leadership skills. I hope you have been spending some time over the last year to consider your skills and to work on areas of deficiency.

On top of the list for your skills should be you ability to create, develop, maintain and especially articulate your vision. You may have heard of the term your elevator pitch. Only with this vision will the small tasks fall out at you to gain the momentum and move things along in line with this vision.

Where would we be if Bill Gates hadn't envisioned a PC on every desk and every home?

If you can formulate a great vision, then write it down, hopefully one sentence says it all, because the clearer the vision the easier it is to focus.

Now your vision is set it's time to consider what are the steps you need to take to get there. These steps need some time restraints and maybe there needs to be some interim steps along the way. Such as obtain 100 repeat customers within twelve months, so this will translate to a sub task that should be in the order of get ten customers each month. From this the support task will fall out such as marketing, business process - how do I quote? how do I invoice etc.

Allocate the jobs you're expert at to yourself and delegate the other tasks to those around you who have the most appropriate skills.

While running a business is all about selling the products and services to customers who want your products, it's your leadership skills that will keep the focus while building and maintaining your business.