Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Take your Leadership to the next level

As Leaders we encourage our teams to continually improve their skills and knowledge in the workplace. We do this because we know that as they improve, they will draw the team after them and slowly their improvement will lift the team as a whole. When was the last time you took a step back and considered what actions you should be taking to improve your own leadership skills? The following is a quick list of simple steps you can take every day to steadily improve your leadership.

Develop an insatiable curiosity about everything you touch. Do you know everything about the materials in your workplace? Are there new and improved materials? Are there new and better ways to handle these materials? What about your team members, do you know what makes each one of them tick, why are they working in your team? What their hopes and aspirations? By developing your curiosity you will spark new insights from your team and the surrounds.

Learn and practice creative thinking, have you considered learning about DeBono and his many ideas to creativity? If you don't want to go down the formal path, have you allocated time to daydream and consider what possibilities exist for your team and its tasks? Creative thinking may open some new doors to help you stay ahead of the competition.

Gather some like forces and partners, you can't know everything about everything so find people who have complementary skills they can catapult your team further ahead.

Adopt a culture of allowing your team members to take responsibility and accept any failures as learning experiences, maybe your learning for not setting the goals clearly or maybe learning by your team members in a better way for handling a situation. This will only work if you are open and honest with the team and accept mistakes as part of the learning and growing process.

While on the topic of being honest and open with your team members don't confuse respect with fear or distance, you need the lines of communication open and receptive to candid discussion, If your team members talk to you through fear - odds on you will only get to hear what they think you want to hear or disasters that have gone so far they are not able to be corrected.

Be sure to look for positive behaviours every day, when you openly encourage your team for doing the great things they will respond by trying to do this more often.

Find an opportunity to give a member of your team some enthusiastic feedback, as this will promote their feeling of being uplifted and help them maintain their confidence.

If we can maintain our edge, slowly improving our leadership, our team will grow and be more productive and promote a happier environment. Do you think you can take these steps to move yourself forward?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Good leaders develop and motivate their Specialist staff

As good leaders in our respective businesses, its important for us to retain great staff. We all know that money only talks so much especially for the specialists. for the specialists they will tell us time and time again that they are held to a job because of other reasons. It maybe the environment, how much they feel valued, technical opportunities within their area and so on.

Because of these varied reasons behind keeping the best staff, we need to come up with a balanced plan identifying and offering some opportunities for our people to grow and feel better about working in our team.

If the guys are specialists in some field, help them to stay at the cutting edge of their discipline. Find some seminars or an extension course. Talk it over with them and get their feel on what it would offer to them. Show you are prepared to commit either with time away from normal work to attend and even pay for the tuition. You may be very surprised how much these type of worker appreciate being the "Keeper" of the technology.

When discussing how this special worker can assist the overall team help focus on the teams critical needs rather than than those topics of their special interest. If you can show them a problem or need in the business that they can solve and explain how much this will aid the whole team, many people will respond very positively to being seen as the person who can solve problems for the common good.

Often specialists are very tunnel visioned to their particular are, gradually expose them to other functions within the team environment, guide them to see how their part of the work is part of the "Big Picture". Many people respond to being a part of the whole thing and feel more connected to the company goal rather than their island of special talents.

We seek out the specialist for our businesses to get those difficult tasks done, and we choose them for their aptitude to get these tasks done. Consider how they will stagnate if they continue in their area and never get any updates on new techniques styles and such. Help them to develop internal and external networks within their fields of expertise, this way they will bring new and improved ideas back to your business and better develop that area. Also many workers feel an added sense of being connected to the group of specialists and they are representing your business. So take an active role and spend some time to see how the networks are developing and what ideas they are generating.

Often our specialists often talk in jargon and rarely consider our customers view help them to acquire interpersonal and influencing skills, give them opportunities to talk to customers, then give them some feedback. Many specialists are afraid of public speaking so you may need to find them a course to go on to establish some basic rules and skills. Then give them some more opportunities to talk with your customers. Customer with problems love to speak to technical people who can explain the issues and solutions to customer problems.

Ask them to coach others, lots of technical specialists love to pass on their knowledge to others so develop some opportunities for them to coach another member of staff or perhaps give a talk on how their particular area contributes to the business.

Assign them some leadership roles to gain experience in working with small teams. This needs to be done very gently as many people find this very daunting. Perhaps start with them sitting in some teams gradually move their role from member delivering specialist perspective, through to a secretary type role to eventually you are at the point where they are in a position and confident enough to lead the team.

If we develop a pathway of drawing our specialists more into our general business, we'll see our people grow and our team will benefit by having a more rounded view and some new creative ideas flowing. If we develop an open and candid dialogue as we expose our specialists to these new avenues I'm sure you will find more of your team members will feel more connected to the group as a whole.