I saw this drawing from LizandMollie and it really inspired me to think about what are the important traits for being an effective leader and how do you get there if you’re struggling.
This picture inspired me because it’s everything that I try to be. I try to ensure that my team can work without hearing any outside noise, interference or issues. This is definitely not easy to manage (especially in a virtual environment) so I wanted to take some time to explain what I do and how you can achieve this yourself in your projects.
- Manage expectations
This is critical for success. You need to manage everyone’s expectations for what they can expect from you and what you’re expecting from them. This could include things like:
- What communication is expected
- How you want to communicate
- What’s important for you as a Manager/team
- What Respect looks like for each person
Managing expectations can be done ALL the time. It’s not just necessary at the start (although it’s a good time to do it). I like to reaffirm expectations whenever there is a change/massive upheaval within the team. Most recently, this has been done for me as we’ve had a mix up of team responsibilities and involvement so it’s been useful to reset the boundaries and ensure that I know where their stressors or issues lie.
- Walk the walk, talk the talk
You need to be the leader that you say you’ll be. This means, following through on your promises, giving the team the direction they need and being the umbrella to shield them from issues they may have. If you’re struggling with this, I would assess where the issue is. Is it because you’re struggling being a leader? Is it because you’re lacking the skills to do what you promise? Uncertainty from the role itself? Or something else? During a recent coaching session, I helped a leader who was struggling to feel empowered to make those decisions and be the leader that his team needed him to be.
If you’re struggling with this, start small. Keep small promises about where you’ll be on a specific day, keeping your checkpoints and not cancelling. Then you can build up from there.
- Avoid chaos
There’s a lot to be said for being the calm force in a storm. When everything seems stressful, chaotic or generally unsettled, the best thing that you can do is remain calm, focused and aligned. This does not mean that you become a robot! It means you listen to concerns, align with important areas of focus or stress and provide input, valuable insight and give yourself time to process everything.
If you find yourself struggling with stress, try to focus on your own techniques for stress management. I try to not let the team see if I’m stressed and try to always appear calm and focused.
- Do not rush
This follows on from the last point. Do not rush or try to do things that you /the team/ the project are not ready for. There’s a time and a place to be a trailblazer. There’s a time to be super busy and try to get everything done BUT you shouldn’t rush at the risk of your project, team deliverables or causing undue stress for no reason. There are always busy periods and times but you need to make sure that you’re not pushing your team unnecessarily.
- Invest in yourself
If you’re struggling with having the skillset to be the leader that your team need, then the best advice is to invest in your skillset. Take courses, learn more and consider what you might need now but also in the future. Depending on your needs, there are free courses available on many platforms and you can also use professional memberships to access learning content. In my own journey, I found that my team needed a coach and guidance to be effective and excel. It was using this training that helped me step up to give my team what they needed at that time.
What would be the top tip for becoming an effective leader? What’s helped you?