I am very pleased to feature a guest post today by Jim Taggart. I love what Jim has to say, and I would strongly encourage you to leave Jim a comment at the end of this post. Here is Jim’s bio, followed by his article. Enjoy!
Jim Taggart has been a student of leadership for over 15 years, devoting over a decade to applied work in leadership development, organizational learning and team building. As a thought leader, he has initiated and led several change management projects. He’s also an economist, and has conducted research into labour market functioning, business innovation and industrial competitiveness.
In addition to a Masters degree in economics, he holds a Masters degree in leadership and organizational learning. He recently released his first e-book: “Becoming a Holistic Leadership: Strategies for Successful Leadership Using a Principle-Based Approach.” Jim’s passion for leadership extends to openly sharing with others. He invites you to visit his leadership website http://www.leadershipworldconnect.com and his blog http://changingwinds.wordpress.com
Leadership is hard work–really hard work. Just when you think you’re getting it, finally figuring it out, you encounter a new situation at work or in your community. And from this you learn, adapt and move forward. The “situation” could be an underperforming employee, a micro-managing boss who questions your decisions, a fellow municipal councilor with whom you frequently disagree, an uncooperative community stakeholder, or a very demanding client.
In facing these challenges, one key element is often ignored by those in leadership positions: the support and loyalty of those you lead. Remember, management is an appointment of position; leadership is earned, regardless of where you work and the position you hold.
Many years ago as a new manager I fell on my face more times than I could count. Maybe it’s partly due to my Scottish heritage, but I stuck it out, learning from my mistakes, adapting and always moving forward. Along the way things started to fit together. And now that I’m completing a 28 year career in the public service and seeking to start a new one, I can look back and shake my head at some of my dumb mistakes. But I also take pride at my accomplishments, which would not have been possible without the terrific people with whom I worked, and in some cases, led. Leadership, I fervently believe, is a shared phenomenon.
I’ve learned many lessons after 30 plus years in the workforce. However, what I would like to share with you are ten ways to gain respect from your co-workers and those you lead. Sure it’s not the definitive list, but drawn from my personal experiences.
I believe that by adhering to these lessons you will set yourself on the right path to excellence in leadership, and also achieve great results with your committed followers. With that said, please keep in mind that this is a never-ending process of self-enlightenment and personal growth. Keep stretching your learning.
Good luck in your leadership journey!
1. Get to know your co-workers and their families. This doesn’t mean snooping or putting on a false interest, but instead showing genuine interest in those you lead.
2. It’s okay to change your mind. If you change direction, make sure that you explain clearly to your team why you did so. It’s also advisable to involve your team in setting direction, as well as when it needs to be altered.
3. Communicate clearly and regularly. Ensure that your team is up to date on what is going on in the organization. The best way to do this is face-to-face. Make judicious use of email.
4. Encourage a learning culture within your team. Show leadership by starting with yourself. Lifelong learning is not a 9 to 5 proposition; it’s about how you absorb new experiences at work and through community service, training courses, assignments, reading, travel, etc. It’s a reciprocal process: employers provide opportunities to learn and grow, but employees also need to engage in activities outside of work.
5. Maintain a careful balance between work and socializing. As much as it’s good to do some outside socializing with your team, take particular care as a manager to never be seen as creating favorites, which can occur through social activities.
6. Give regular feedback on performance. Be open and honest. Don’t whitewash performance reviews; this doesn’t help anyone and deludes people (especially newer recruits) into believing that they’re doing a good job. But acknowledge and recognize superior performance. And be sure to link performance reviews to learning activities. Performance and learning go hand-in-hand.
7. Make generous use of self-deprecating humor. NEVER make fun of others at their expense. This shows your own insecurity. And don’t tolerate others making fun of those who may be more vulnerable. Lead by example.
8. Share the leadership. Avoid micromanaging your staff. As they gain work experience and grow, keep the tension on by giving more responsibility and leadership opportunities. As manager, park your ego.
9. Admit when you screw up. Make a point of showing how you’ve learned from the mistake. This is a powerful way to demonstrate your leadership to your team and to underscore that you’re not above them–you’re a human being.
10. Stand behind your staff during times of difficulty. When your staff make mistakes or get caught up in organizational politics and are in trouble, don’t abandon them in an attempt to cover your own ass. If you can’t stand behind one of your team members, then you don’t belong in management and you’re certainly not a leader.