A good team leader exhibits excellent managerial excellence | Daily News
Leading your flock into greener pastures – Part 26

A good team leader exhibits excellent managerial excellence

Sometimes you’re going to find that leading people is a joy: you admire how everyone pulls together to scale new heights of performance and teamwork. At other times, however, leading people can seem like an uphill battle as they falter and fail to deliver the performance you expect.

Throughout this week and another two weeks, we will find out how to encourage your staff to strive towards achieving peak performance by setting standards for them and acting promptly when individuals fail to achieve those standards.

Being a Great Role Model

As the leader, you’re the role model for your team. On one hand it means that you’re always under the magnifying glass, but the flip side is that being the role model is a powerful management tool. You can use it to tremendous advantage without investing a dime.

Leaders are made, not born. However, one essential attribute these leaders have is that they lead by example, and being strong role models. It’s not particularly difficult to master, and it will make managing your people immeasurably easier at zero cost to you.

If you’re a disorganized mess, so is your business unit. If you have a surly attitude, so do your people. If you fudge the truth and cut corners, your people will too. On the other hand, if you’re calm, confident, upbeat, meticulous, fair, approachable and a problem-solver, that’s the model your people will follow.

But, if you are thinking, “I am the boss of this division, so I should be able to set the rules and do things any way I want,” you will soon realize otherwise. That’s why children invariably copy their parents and employees copy their boss.

Model behaviours

What behaviours should you model? Well, what behaviours and attitudes would you like to see in your employees? The list is essentially the same for you and them. Here are some suggestions, beginning with the Big Three - honesty, trustworthiness and integrity.

Honesty: One instance of dishonesty on your part calls everything you say into question, sending the message that being dishonest is an acceptable behaviour for all employees. Zero leeway on this.

Trustworthiness: Respect confidences, keep all your promises and live up to your commitments.

Integrity: Do the right thing. You know what this means. Just do it.

Other than the above three basic behaviours there are a number of others which are also important:

Fairness: (No playing of favourites or taking advantage of others): Consistency: Deal with similar situations in similar ways time after time.) : Dependability: (Can they count on you to be there when you said you would, to do what you said you would, to follow through on your promises every single time?): Approachability: (Be as available to your people as you’d like them to be with you and your customers) and confidence, positive attitude, compassion: organising capability etc.

One more especially necessary quality is pragmatism: The rules are the rules, but sometimes circumstances just don’t fit them. Never compromise your core values and beliefs, but be reasonable and willing to deal with realities.

But remember - Follow your own rules: They’re your policies and procedures - you get to set them up - but once they’re in force, you have to follow them just like any other employee. Nothing breeds resentment faster than double standards.

Naturally becoming a role model is a tough job but worthwhile attainment.

Final pointers

You can’t effectively model a behaviour that’s inconsistent with your basic beliefs. If you try, it’ll be obvious to everyone and undermine your credibility. Good intentions aren’t enough: It is actions that everybody sees. Make sure to incorporate the desirable behaviours into your job descriptions, policy manuals and performance evaluations, and enforce them vigorously.

It may feel like being a role model for your team members is more than you signed up for, and it can feel like a burden to always be living up to your own standards. It is part of the game. On the other hand, being the role model is also a powerful and inexpensive way to reduce your headaches and make your organization run more effectively.

Become a standard-bearer and raise your standards!

If you describe someone as the standard-bearer of a group, you mean that he acts as the leader or public representative of a group of people who have the same aims or interests.

How do pole-vaulters keep improving? They do so by continually raising the bar. Whether we’re athletes or not, we too have to keep raising the bar if we wish to experience endless growth and unfurl our magnificent potential.

How do you raise the bar?

Step 1: Gain Clarity - Your first step is to clarify what it is you want to achieve. It’s after all impossible to set standards if you don’t know what you want. Ask yourself: What do I want to achieve? Whom do I seek to become as a result of achieving this goal? What traits would I need to cultivate to achieve this goal? What new behaviours would I need to adopt? How would I ideally like to live my life having achieved this goal?

It’s crucial at this stage not to view your goal from the limited perspective of your current reality. Instead, envision your goal from a future perspective of your desired reality.

Step 2: Assess Your Reality- Your second step is to assess your current and desired reality. Your current reality is the life you are living at this very moment. Consider what kind of life this is and the types of behaviours that define your actions and results in the present moment. Ask yourself: What standards do I currently uphold? What standards do I have for myself in various situations? What behaviours and actions do I partake in within these situations? What standards do I have for the roles I play in life?

In every stage in our lives, we have a set of standards we uphold and a set of expectations that we have for ourselves and others. Take a look at those standards, then ask yourself: Are these standards mine? Did I set these standards myself? When exactly did I set these standards? If I didn’t set them, then who set them for me? Why did I adopt these standards as my own?

The origin of some of your standards may not have come from you. No matter who you modelled them from, you have, as of this moment accepted these standards as part of your life. You have accepted them despite the fact that they may not be serving your best interests.

Given all this, it’s time to ask a couple of very challenging questions: Given the goals that I would like to achieve, are my current standards hindering me in any way? Are my current standards preventing me from doing my very best in these areas of my life?

Now honestly ask yourself whether or not you are doing your very best in each of these areas of your life. If the answer is a resounding “yes” then there really isn’t much that you can change by yourself. What you should do instead is gain more knowledge, resources and/or support.

If on the other hand, you answered “no,” then this indicates that you have untapped potential in critical areas of your life. All you need now is a little commitment to back your desire and actions.

Standards

Given what we now know, now let’s address your desired reality. Ask yourself: Where could I potentially do better? Where could I potentially be better? What standards do I need to set in each area of my life in order to be the person I envision myself becoming? What standards do I need to set in each area to achieve my desired goals?

The standards you set for yourself will depend on the kind of person you desire to become and the goals you would like to achieve in each area of your life. Now you have laid down the foundations for the personal standards you live by.

Step 3: Find Inspiring Mentors

Your next step is to find suitable mentors. These will be people who are currently living to the highest of standards in specific life areas that you desire to focus on. The purpose here is to use them as inspiration to help you raise your own personal standards.

Choosing a mentor is not easy, however, firstly, the person must be ready to help you and have time to dedicate to you. Someone who can help you set professional goals. He must also have your interests at heart, be able to say positive things about you and be willing to help you improve your weaknesses. Mentoring takes a lot of time, but it can be very rewarding if done well.

Step 4: Set Clear Standards

It is now time to set some clear standards and expectations for each area of your life. In other words, you must identify a set of standards you will follow. These standards effectively become the rules you live by.

(Lionel Wijesiri is a retired company director with over 35 years’ experience in senior business management. Presently he is a business consultant, freelance newspaper columnist and a writer. He could be contacted on [email protected])


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