The Strategist

Three essentials for novice leaders


03/20/2020 - 09:25



“Is it even possible to do all this?” This is a question that can often be heard from recently promoted executives. They ask it when they learn about the three main aspects of successful leadership: building trust, strengthening the team and expanding the network of contacts. Let's try to find the answer to this question.



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Many are horrified to realize that at the end of the day they rarely manage to do everything that they planned. Unexpected problems take time and control over deadlines, budgets and standards. Leaders despair: they seem to no longer manage the situation.

Every day little things accumulate and leave no resources for what is really important - management tasks.

These key elements (let's call them the three requirements of leadership and management) do not give quick and easy victories. They are necessary for continuous effective work, and here's why:

Build trust

To be a successful leader is to influence others. And there is no influence without trust. You will not be an authority for a person who is wary of you. That is why managers should strive to ensure that every employee trusts them. To do this, you need to demonstrate two basic components of trust: experience and decency.

Experience does not mean that you should be an expert in any business that your team deals with. To be experienced means to understand the work so well that you can make confident decisions and boldly ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Decency means that in your actions and decisions you rely on values that go beyond personal interests and pay sincere attention to work, customers (internal or external) and employees. If people believe in your experience and decency, they rely on what you are doing right.

Strengthen the team

In an effective team of employees, a common goal is based on common values. The bonds between people must be so strong that they sincerely believe that they will win or lose together. No one gains anything if the team is defeated.

In addition, strong teams have their own rules that directly and indirectly govern the interaction of employees. For example, what kind of conflict is allowed and what are not?

To manage people, competent leaders support all the elements of a real team: purpose, values and rules.

Instead of saying, “Do it because I’m in charge,” they say, “Do it for the team.” This is a more efficient approach. People value their belonging to a real team and try their best not to let their colleagues down. The leader’s task is to establish strong relationships in the team and, with their help, influence people's behavior.

Expand the network of contacts

Each team depends on the support and help of outsiders and groups. Successful leaders are actively building and maintaining a network that includes not only team members, but also those who will help them achieve their future goals. Of course, this requirement is especially worrying for novice leaders.

Networking seems to them a manipulation game, where they are forced to demonstrate a good attitude towards people in order to achieve something from them.

They want to be above that. Indeed, sometimes leaders and members of their team abuse power - and then networking turns into manipulation. But this will not happen if people will honestly, openly and sincerely build relationships that are beneficial to all parties.

Everyday tasks

Learning about these aspects, managers usually ask: “When can we build trust, team and network of contacts? How do we do this if we have many other tasks? ”

Three leadership requirements are not the next items on the to-do list. Strong and effective leaders implement them in their daily work when they set goals, appoint responsible people, structure tasks, communicate with employees and evaluate results. Such professionals regard everyday work and its inevitable problems as an opportunity to develop leadership skills.

How do they do it? They gain the trust of the team when they ask competent questions and share useful suggestions. In everyday decisions, they proceed from their values and take care of their employees or customers. They manifest their true self, but do so without selfishness. They show what they know, what they believe in and what they value, and so they prove their reliability.

They immediately call to account people who violate the rule of involvement: for example, disrespect others or put their own interests above collective ones. It is important that the rules are the same for everyone, including the leader. So, if the leader violates them, subordinates can also point it out.

These are just a few of the ways you can meet leadership requirements in your daily work. The whole secret is to understand that everyday tasks are not a hindrance for an effective leader. This will help novice managers not to be afraid of difficulties and do the same as their more experienced colleagues.

Based on “HBR Emotional Intelligence Series (Mindfulness, Resilience, Influence and Persuasion, Authentic Leadership, Happiness, and Empathy)” by Daniel Goleman




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