Are you a good leader? You could be better!

Are you a leader at all, or a manager?  Do you know the difference – does it make a difference?

Well it definitely makes a difference!  To you, your team, your company, your family, your life.

People work well and buy from people – so team leaders matter, business owners matter.

People are emotional creatures in or out of work!  There is no getting away from it – you, your employees, your customers!

Leading people is about the big picture, yes, and taking people there – leading or following, pushing them ahead of you of walking by your side.

A leader is …

Inspirational, confident, committed, creative, flexible, adaptable, engaged, aware, decisive, caring, compassionate, strong, dynamic, visionary, inclusive, exclusive, innovative, reliable, sincere, realistic, honest, motivated, supportive, trustworthy, courageous, wise, experienced, humble and charismatic – or does all the afore-mentioned make them charismatic perhaps?
Managers on the other hand need to have some of these qualities to in order to lead the team but manging the team workload, personalities and resources, outcomes and deadlines take a different set of skills, such as …

Organised, proactive, inclusive, motivational, planning skills, design systems and procedures, execute tasks and take responsibility for self and others, rely on control and understanding, awareness and trustworthy, short term view of goals to implement the overall vision, meet deadlines and budgets, facilitate groups and people’s needs.

If you are in the wrong role, it can be difficult if not disasterous for the organisation!  If you don’t know your role and take on responsibilities of the other side you lose control of yours, and lose sight of the outcomes you have to achieve as part of the whole group.

People – employees, customers have their own roles outside of the workplace that can swap over the leadership, managerial or follower roles at work and this can clash in the team, if there is a lack of awareness.

Leaders at home are family heads perhaps – mum or dad, one or other partner, head of the wider family as eldest sibling.   They have the same responsibilities in a different situation.

Managers are like many mums who deal with home, family, work and self daily.  Getting things done, being in the right place at the right time, co-ordinating conflicting demands and needs, pulling various strings and driving the whole forward!

A bossy child might become a great manager!   A shy child can lead but not particularly like to manage a large team of people hands on.   An introverted manager isn’t helpful to the team when they all need to talk, all need attention and maybe one or two have their differences to sort.

Emotional Intelligence is important in both roles.  That isn’t to say that emotions should rule in the company, but they should at least be recognised, acknowledged and managed well!

If they aren’t what then?  Unhappy staff means unhappy customers sometimes!  Valued people leave if they can’t hack the manager; their values might not align to yours and the company’s aims perhaps, or they have ‘stuff’ going on outside of work that impacts but isn’t known or supported.

Support doenst mean pandering to individual needs day on day, but it might mean considerate planning for a period, or leaving them out of this latest project and bring them back next time.  They might actually need emotional support, time out, professional help and advice from HR or EAP, and they might become stressed if demands overload their ability to provide to everyone who needs them right there and then!   This could lead to a relationship breakdown between you, a loss of skills for the organisation, missing the deadline or losing the contract if they have a key position in the transaction!

Being aware of your own needs means you will be more aware of someone else’s too, if only because you “don’t understand them or where they are coming from”, or realise their point of view but don’t agree with it and have to override their needs (but done intelligently and care-fully can smooth this path!).

Empathy is part of the emotionally intelligent ‘boss’ be that leader or manager; they need to be aware of the options, the possible variations and creatively manage the situations that arise from it.  Your problems, their problems, the customer and provider options!

Sadly, too often the emotional part of living is ignored and ridden rough-shod over.  When all it takes is  a LITTLE time, a little thought and awareness, the right question (open, closed, direction, subtle) and empathy – how would you feel in their situation?   Have you been there or not and how does that affect you?

A manager of mine at work didn’t have children and was very unsympathetic to my need to have time off suddenly, or go home midday to get them from school, or sort out problems and appointments in a timely manner – deal with the inherent problems of parenthood and pressures, the conflict of home and work and the personal values that clashed on more than one occasion!  When she had a child of her own – oh, how different that was!   And I did, gently, one day mention it so that in future, she realised how she could have managed better, and hopefully would in future.  But you don’t need to have experience of circumstances to be empathic to them – just care about the people you work with and for, and how their lives and work might at times coincide at a bad time – or a good one!

There are different styles of leadership, and different modes too that can ease the pain and smooth the path towards the goal, bringing everyone along together.  It just takes

  • Talking to each other
  • Trust and honesty
  • Awareness of yourself and others, and the reality of the situation
  • Emotional intelligence