Leading is tougher than managing
If you manage people, you'll know it can be hard work. Every employee is different, with unique needs, desires and motivations. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses. And you have to figure those out if you want to get the best out of your staff.
But leading is even tougher than managing. Leading means:
bringing people with you on the journey
tapping into their emotions and engaging them with your vision
understanding their motivations and linking those to your organisation’s future
connecting all employees to a common goal.
To explore what this means in practical terms, we spoke to Chiquita Searle, General Manager of the League of Extraordinary Women. Her organisation relies on volunteers, female entrepreneurs, interns and remote staff. They’re all working towards a common goal, so we asked her to share her tips about leadership.
Being an effective leader is often easier said than done. But this guide will help you on your path to becoming one.
1. Lead from the front
If you want to be seen as a leader, you must act like one. You are accountable for your business. In simple terms, the buck stops with you.
Your employees will look to you for guidance. They will take their cues from you. Through inspiration, a good leader can change an entire organisation for the better.
As leader you are the heart of your business – you are its pulse. If you skip a beat, so does your organisation. So stand tall when leading your people, and lead from the front.
2. Make room for mistakes
Failure is part of learning. We know that’s true for children and it applies to adults too. Failure teaches lessons that success never can. Yet many workplaces don’t allow space for failure.
If you want to lead, be prepared for mistakes. Instead of reprimanding your employees when things go wrong, ask them what they learned. Then make sure they apply that new learning to their work.
Being lenient about genuine mistakes will encourage your employees to experiment with new ideas. Some of them will pay off for your business – big time.
3. Empower your team
If you’ve hired the right employees then you’ll know what your team members can do. That means you believe in their skills, experience and personalities.
So tell them that. Give them the gift of your belief in them. Your employees will blossom with the knowledge that you really value them. Their confidence will inspire them to achieve great things.
4. Temper criticism with praise
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. You may have to steer your employees back onto the right course if they lose their way.
Try to do so without undermining their confidence. The ‘feedback sandwich’ is a good way to achieve this:
Start with a positive.
Deliver the negative, but do it constructively.
End with another positive.
5. Show your team the big picture
If your staff feel like small cogs in a giant machine, you won’t get the best out of them. So take the time to explain how each of them fits into your organisation.
Everyone likes to feel part of something big. Employment is about more than earning a wage – it's about making a valuable contribution.
Helping others can be intrinsically rewarding in a way that money never can. Make every employee feel part of the big picture. Share your business plan with them.
6. Focus on development
Employment is a two-way street. Your employees are looking for more than financial reward. They need:
help achieving their career goals
the benefit of your wisdom and experience
the space and time to learn new skills
your guidance and advice.
The more time you spend actively helping your employees, the better they will feel. Your support and investment in their future will help motivate them.
They will repay you many times over – with commitment, hard work and good ideas.
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Xero is software designed to make life better for small businesses and their advisors. Its online accounting platform provides the foundation on which businesses can build a complete business solution. It connects businesses with their bank, accounting tools, their accountant, payment services and third-party apps, so everything is securely available at any time, on any device.
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