Sunday, December 28, 2008

Preparation for succession

Ever heard the saying, "we're all expendable" or "everyones' replaceable"? I'm sure you have heard this or something similar, and like it or not it's pretty true.

As leaders of our teams it is up top us to ensure the team will survive even if we are not the one leading the team. Are you prepared? Has someone been acting as your second in command.

If all of this is something you haven't put much thought into, perhaps it should be one of your goals for 2009.

Make an action plan so that by the end of the year you will have a a replacement for yourself, someone who knows the team's strengths and weaknesses, understands all the processes. Someone who can help develop the strategy and continue to steer the team towards the goals.

Like all good project plans set up some general goals and timelines maybe along these lines:

1. Identify likely candidates,
2. Document all processes,
3. Select final candidate, - End Q1
4. Develop a mentoring relationship with candidate to work through the processes,
5. Allow some responsibilities to transfer to candidate, - End Q2
6. Involve candidate with strategy plans for the following year, - Q3
7. Take leave and allow candidate to run team - end Q3
8. Evaluate result

Hopefully by the end of the year you will have a new team leader in place and ready to fill your role. Perhaps it will be for nothing but then again maybe it will ensure your team can survive the turmoil of change of leadership.

While this may seem a strange topic it is important for a leader to prepare a legacy so the team can continue to perform strongly well into the future.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Delegation as a Leadership Tool

How do you view delegation? Is delegation a tool you use every day to ensure your team gets the results you need? Delegation is the art of directing someone to do tasks for you.

The chances are you can do most jobs and tasks within your team, however that doesn't mean you should do them. By carefully delegating appropriate tasks to your team members, you will leverage their skills and time to complete the tasks your team need to meet.

When tasks are delegated it is important that you follow some basic rules:

1. Explain exactly what the task's outcome is,
2. Outline any limitations placed on how the task is to be completed,
3. Specify the timeline for specific milestones and the completion date,
4. Highlight any progress reports, their details, and period, and
5. Explain to the person doing the task how they are suitably empowered.

It is often assumed that once you have delegated the task your job is done, this is very wrong now is the time for mentoring as required and some subtle supervision.

When I say subtle supervision allow the person some freedom in how they complete the task and only step-in if asked to, or to stop a pending disaster. When we are new at tasks we may head in the wrong direction for sometime before correcting the issue and getting back on course, the lesson will be much better learnt if corrected by one-self rather than from an over-protective leader.

One important thing to remember, while we can delegate the task to others, we as good leaders cannot delegate the responsibility to a team member. The eventual outcome belongs to us, not our team members.

By leveraging the skills and efforts of our team-members we will have a more productive team.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Good leaders keep an eye on Quality

Invariably around the world at present we see the fallout from the financial crisis. With much of this, have been the inevitable job cuts. While it's one thing to be losing members from your team, it's another for your product and services to be diminished due to this loss of a member.

When the crunch time happens you need to be in a position to know what is going to suffer, will it be people have to work longer hours to fill the other role, will it be less products are produced - what will it be in your case?

Take a view from the customer side and be sure that the quality the customer experiences is absolutely perfect, as is dealing with your company and team. The odds are they too are struggling with less people while trying to maintain the same level of their services, so they want to find what they want easily and they want the transaction and the product to be flawless - because they don't have any time to deal with you and your team if it's not perfect.

Don't be tempted to cut corners as it will damage your team's future. Take the time to address what the impact will be and to find a way to mitigate it.

You're the leader for a reason and now is the time to make sure you show true leadership for your product and the chance for your team to prosper into the future.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Your Leadership Communications

One of the skills great leaders master is the ability to be accepted by their team members, their customers and their suppliers, yet how many of us work on making these communications better than they are today? Think back to the last time you were in a group meeting when your boss addresses you as a group, how did you feel and how did you respond, contrast this with the last time your boss addressed you by name. Why did you feel different? More than likely it was because this was at a more personal level.

When we are meeting people and maintaining our friendships and acquaintances we should follow some basic rules, these will help us to remember the person and also will make the person we are talking to connect at a more personal level with us.

What are these basic rules? Always say hello and always say goodbye, if this is combined with using the persons’ first name it has the most affect. By doing this, you have established a connection to the person, and by them acknowledging it, they understand you want to talk with them.

Now you are in communication with this person you must concentrate to listen to the message the person is conveying, this includes the words, their body language, their actions etc are they engaging you 100%. Wait for your turn to speak and maintain the thread of the conversation don’t be too quick to turn it to your topic as this will appear to the person as if you don’t care for their views.

When you are in a conversation, do your best to remain positive to the theme, people get sick of the person who comes to them constantly complaining, so maintain a positive air about the topic. Add in responses to the conversations to show you are listening and evaluating the ideas flowing back and forth, put forward your considerations in an open manner to allow the person to further contribute and so build more on the topic.

Use time carefully, make sure you turn up on time to meetings, be neat and calm and most of all be as prepared as you can. Don’t make meetings drag on as it shows a lack of respect for the other person’s time. Think before you speak and be sure to communicate your thoughts in a clear an unambiguous manner.

If you can follow these basic steps, your communications with your team will improve and this will improve the overall operation of your team.