Business Colleagues Team fist huddle

Practical Application of Leadership in Small Groups Pt. 2

I hope everyone enjoyed my last blog entry and is looking forward to these next few principles we are going to cover. In my post a few weeks ago, we discussed the first three out of these 11 principles which are

. Know yourself and seek self-improvement

. Be technically and tactically proficient

. Know your people and look out for their welfare

Remember: these principles are meant only as a guide to help you develop your own style of effective leadership. You must define what kind of leader you are going to be and what that position means to you. Keep in mind that you are going to have to continuously develop this skill and it will change for every situation and environment. There is no “one size fits all” for every group you work with. But I promise that if you use this framework, you will be set for success wherever your career may take you. These principles are applicable not only to people who are currently in an official leadership position, but to anyone. Leadership begins long before you have earned the position!

Keep your people informed

People, by their very nature, are inquisitive. We want to understand the world around us. A big part of effective leadership is maintaining an open line of communication. Very seldom will you be in a position where you genuinely have to keep information confidential. Keep your team informed of all goings-on and the reasons behind activities, changes, etc. An informed team feels a part of the situation and not just a cog in the wheel. People work better when they understand what is happening, plain and simple. Having information empowers them to take initiative and exceed expectations. This means the work your team accomplishes will be both considered and thorough. Open communication also prevents any misunderstanding of the task at hand. Nothing is more frustrating than finding out an assigned task was completed poorly because it was misunderstood, especially when the confusion could have been easily prevented. Do yourself a favor and make sure the plan is understood!

Set the example

This is a big one! Remember, whether you like it or not, you are always being watched. Your team is going to take your lead, so you must embody what you want to see from them. A leader shows professional competence and integrity before he can rightfully demand it of others. Everything from your appearance to your attitude to your work ethic must set a personal example for your subordinates. And as I stated earlier, even if you’re not officially in a leadership position, you can still set an example for your peers to emulate. Commit to being a part of creating a successful environment. A great way to develop trust is to show your team that you are willing to do the same things you ask of them. Show them that you are in this with them and a contributing team member. Maintain a positive outlook as well! No one gives any real effort to something they think is doomed to fail. Conducting yourself in this manner allows you to have your personal habits not open to criticism. And most importantly, do not over-supervise. This can be hard at times, but allow members in your team to develop their own leadership skills. This builds confidence and enthusiasm within your team. It also gives them the opportunity to deal with any problems on their own instead of having to come to you every time there is an issue. Set the example. Create the environment you want to work in.

Ensure that the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished

This is like walking a tightrope. There is a fine line between being involved in the correct completion of work and micromanagement. You must give clear and concise expectations that cannot be misunderstood, and then supervise and ensure tasks are properly executed. This is where keeping your people informed and keeping an open line of communication is really pays off. Team members feel encouraged to ask questions concerning any point in directives they do not understand. A helpful tip to save yourself a headache is to question members of your team to determine if there is doubt regarding anything that needs to be accomplished. Supervise the execution of tasks, but put care and thought into your supervision. Micromanagement will hurt initiatives and create resentment, but without any supervision, the job will not get done correctly. Finding the balance will be difficult and take time, but if you know your people and develop that trust, you can find that balance as a team.

Developing a style of leadership is difficult. Making mistakes is ok so long as you learn from them. I look forward to discussing the last 5 principals in my next blog entry!

Jason Gunning, Acquirent Sales Executive