Head of Interaction and Service Design at @DigitalDWP
Management is great leadership
I don’t like the term manager, I never have.
It has an air of dictatorship about it and goes against what a leader should be.
Don’t get me wrong, I think on occasion you do have to manage situations and generally this is when something has gone wrong.
Good managers are leaders, and as Simon Sinek said;
“Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”
Leading is a bit like being a parent
I was asked once what my thoughts were on leadership. After taking a few moments to consider my answer, I replied;
“It’s much like being a parent, you must give them the confidence to do things they’d not ordinarily do, provide them with the room to learn, mentor them along the way and put your foot down when necessary.”
Those sit at the core of being a good leader. There are more things that sit on the periphery but let us focus on those core pieces.
It’s hard for some to do a good job when they don’t know they’re doing a job in the first place. It takes nothing to instil some confidence in a team or an individual and it can improve morale immeasurably.
Give people the confidence to try new things, do something they wouldn’t normally do and use their initiative instead of being oppressive.
It’s a bit like throwing them in at the deep-end for the first time without their arm bands on but standing at the edge of the pool ready to dive in whenever they need you.
Providing the room to learn
Overwhelming your team with workload is bad, overwhelming your team with workload and not letting them have a few days off for professional development is madness. There is no value in stopping them from learning, there is an exponential value in giving them the room to learn new skills or expand on the ones they already have.
Whether it’s internal training, external training, workshops or conferences – showing your team that you care about them and their professional skills enough to provide training time for them is immeasurable.
This is linked to some of the other items. There are is only a finite number of people that you can mentor at any one time. It takes time to teach and support a mentee, so you need to make sure if you are going to mentor that you block out a specific amount of time to make sure that both the mentee and yourself are getting the most out of the arrangement. Mentoring is a two-way street, the mentee has to have the willingness to to engage in the process as much as you need to make sure that you’re not letting the mentee down and putting things off with them.
Mentoring can cover a range of different elements, whether it be relevant to a mentee’s work (practical), career or professional development. The passing of knowledge generally happens face-to-face, I’ve always found that having a mentee close to you in your environment can help a lot as they’ll pick up things on the periphery.
Put your foot down when necessary
Occasionally things go a bit haywire, it’s the old adage of giving someone enough rope. When the time comes you will need to put your foot down. You can do this in many ways, but if you want to do it right, be direct and firm with a hint of empathy and feeling for the situation.
Understand the possible outcomes but there should be no ambiguity when you deliver your message.
Help your team to think of the bigger picture
Enabling your team to think of and see the bigger picture provides a good viewpoint. Even if it’s a limited view of a roadmap, it’s always positive for a team to see where you’re headed.
Additionally, enabling your team to think of the bigger picture as to why you’re doing what you’re doing also can add confidence to them. It’s a matter of providing context
As a leader, you’re an enabler. It’s your job to be that shit umbrella, to enable people to do their best work and get everything else out of the way. It’s your job to help them to become better.