We’ve all come across so many leaders over the course of our lifetime. Some might have learnt to be a leader (there are so many leadership development things nowadays, you know), and some might not have. Whether a leader is made or a leader born, we all gravitate towards them. Why did that happen is a question that I’d like to ponder upon before I hand you out the golden words of leadership, so bear with me.
Be family to your team.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting several people who have changed me in a good way, for which I’m eternally grateful. What I find in common is that I trust them wholeheartedly. They were not just my team leader, not my manager, or just another teacher or, in simple terms, a leader for me. Most of them were my friends, my sisters and brothers. I knew that they knew me, and vice-versa, I knew them. They had all taken the time to talk with me, laugh with me, listen to me when I was ranting about my worries and, most importantly, they had all been there when I needed them the most. Leadership is not just about getting a team to work to meet deadlines. It is all about building meaningful relationships with everyone. A little listening and paying attention could go a long way. Trust me, I’m proof.
Trust is key.
Ugh, OK. You may be a good leader. But still, if you end up finding an ugly duckling amongst your team, that may suggest that there’s a problem you should dig deep into. However much we try, there is always one uncooperative person in the corner that won’t work, won’t respond, and sometimes even leaves the team mid-project. I’d recommend talking with them (not just routine one-on-one but seeing what’s wrong, you never know what might come up); maybe something’s not right from your side. Make sure they are comfortable enough to let you know that and be humble to consider those remarks. Trust of a fellow is as fragile as it can be. You’ve got one shot and only one. Who knows if that ugly duckling is a baby Swan who needs that reassurance to move forward.
Something that I’ve seen that could be done better most of the time is that either the team leader or the manager takes things into their own hands and starts overworking and overcompensating to meet deadlines when things get hard.
Never ever resort to the band-aid of micromanagement.
You must set an example for your team members rather than ordering around, being strict and trying to manage everything to perfection. Although meeting deadlines and completing tasks is essential, there is a reason why you are a leader. At the same time, they are the members of your team. Even though taking the shovel and going into the trench is essential, don’t take it to an unhealthy level. Make sure you never end up in a ‘do it myself’ situation. These ‘do it myself’s would only drain you out. Let your team make mistakes, let them face the consequences. It’s your job to create an environment for them to learn from their mistakes rather than stigmatise them. You might feel the urge to take over, but if you do, that’s where things get dirty. They’d feel undermined and that you don’t trust them enough. Micromanagement is not the cure for a broken team, just as a band-aid would do nothing on a broken bone.
Finally, to the best part,
The two-word phrase ‘thank you’ and the 3 worded clause ‘I appreciate you’, would make an immense change. You should thank and appreciate not just because someone said so but because you mean it. Preaching those golden words without emotion would leave you at square one, much less the team would be disappointed.
The skill of learning to honestly express these 5 words would undoubtedly take you to the pinnacle of leadership. Honesty is the elixir that would bring the potion of excellence together. Trust me, All your members look forward to being acknowledged, appreciated, and most importantly, they need to know that you mean it.
Maybe it is a lot to take in at one go, but small, steady steps could take you a long way. So let’s start with a small ‘thank you’, or a ‘I appreciate you’ first. I am sure you’d start seeing results right away.
So as my final note, fingers crossed to a successful journey in becoming ‘THE most inspiring person’, ‘THE life changer’ and ‘THE beloved’ of many.
Content Writer – AIESEC in University of Peradeniya