Does any of this sound familiar?
- You’ve got staff members grumbling in their coffee; the boss is jumping up and down; or worse, key clients are threatening to take their business elsewhere.
- Your staff don’t seem able to manage without your constant supervision; you’re overloaded with work; your family complains that they need a photo on the fridge to remind themselves what you look like; and you’re feeling increasingly frustrated with your senior position.
- Or, maybe you’re running a voluntary organisation, and some of your committee have let you down. What’s even harder – you can’t get too tough or you’ll find yourself running the whole show! You rely on their good nature to contribute: there’s no pay packet to hold over their head as an ‘inducement’ to perform!
Then, hard on the heels of your frustration, you begin to doubt yourself. What sort of leader are you? Should you give up and crawl under a rock? Take early retirement and disappear into the sunset? Go back to your old job and pretend you’ve no ambitions to succeed at a higher level?
If you’re like many people who find themselves in management or leadership positions, you’ve had minimal training for your role. You may have been very good at some part of the business, but that doesn’t automatically confer leadership brilliance.
What LaVonn and Robyn have found through years of trial and error is the need for a practical ‘how-to’ guide for manager and leaders – but the shelves are pretty bare.
So how have people learned these skills? What is available?
- Most people learn by trial and error, making mistakes as they go.
- In-house mentoring from other managers is valuable but usually fragmented: relevant mostly to specific topical issues.
- Volumes have been written on leadership attributes, Fortune 500 CEOs and leadership theory, but little on how to be a leader.
- Leadership is taught as knowledge but leadership is a competency: a competency includes not only knowledge, but also skills and attitudes.
- Of the books that are practical, many of their examples are of top leaders, so far removed from the day-to-day experience of most folk that acquiring their skill seems like an impossible dream. We’ve used real examples of ordinary folk doing extraordinary work.
This book won’t solve all your challenges. You will still make mistakes. But now you have an easy reference book with a step-by-step process, and real-life examples to encourage you when hidden alligators snap at your oars and threaten to tip your boat!
The authors haven’t spent time debating semantics like the difference between leadership and management. In fact, they’ve chosen to use the terms interchangeably. Some pundits say management first, leadership second. Others vow the reverse. At the end of the day, does it really matter? People just want the simple explanations; they’ve got jobs to do, and they just want to get on and do them to the best of their ability.
Managers and would-be leaders crave for a system; with this book you’ll have it in your hands.
So, what’s this system?
There are four essential commonsense components of leadership: four questions to answer. Apart from a few obvious shifts of emphasis, they’re the same common sense basics for individuals in their personal relationships, people running teams within commercial organizations, and those who make a contribution with some form of voluntary service.
Part 1: Foundation – Who are you? To lead others, first know yourself.
- Let’s get it right from the beginning – who are you and what’s your purpose?
- What do you stand for? (or not stand for!)
- History is a great teacher
- The place of power
- Here I come, world – I’m good at this!
Part 2: Vision and Strategy – Where are you and your organisation going? Create a plan.
- All planning is not the same – learn to think strategically
- 12 steps in strategic planning
- Strategic planning for life
Part 3: Climate – What’s it like to work here? How to build a positive workplace.
- The individual in the workplace
- Communication is King!
- How the leader impacts the climate
- Feedback, criticism and appraisals
- How to deal with conflict
- How to get the message not only delivered, but also understood
Part 4: Synergy – How to work well together
- What are my team’s wants, needs and strengths
- How do I get the best out of them?
- Into the future – leaders who can lead through change
You’ll find it very easy and quick to find help in whatever area you’re currently challenged by, using the comprehensive index and the key point lists at the end of each chapter and section.
From Chapter 10 Communication is King!
(Just one example to whet your appetite)
In this chapter you’ll consider:
- The art of communication
- Three styles – equal, competitive and passive
- Outcomes and results of the three styles
- The importance of keeping the whole company informed
- The three E’s of easy effective communication – equal, enlighten, and enlist
- How to listen
- Active listening
- A communication checklist
Great leaders create a great climate. They not only understand how to enhance and build their people’s self-esteem (and we’ll share more tips on how in Chapter 11), but they’re also great communicators. They maintain an atmosphere of open communication where colleagues are informed about key issues, listened to, and invited to share their opinions. Great leaders weave both art and science into their communication.
The art of communicating with employees involves mutual respect and openness. A primary function for leaders is to create an expectation of safe, honest two-way communication.
Wilma Snow comes to mind when I think of a positive work climate and a brilliant communicator. In my first job after high school, I worked as an on-the-job-trained laboratory technician in a major clinic. Wilma was our laboratory manager and training instructor. She’d had polio as a child and stood less than five feet tall. But as a leader, Wilma towered. Her patience was remarkable. Her energy, encouragement and clear expectations created a work climate where people learned, worked hard, and had fun. Communication was open and honest. We could ask her questions. We felt appreciated. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Wilma was proud of each of us. She was manager, mentor, and friend. Her encouragement and support of me continued long after I left the clinic.
Wilma’s communication skills:
- She maintained an atmosphere of respect and open communication.
- Employees were informed about key issues.
- She not only kept employees up-to-date on what was happening in the clinic, she told them why.
- They were relaxed about asking questions.
- They were regularly invited to offer opinions, to which she listened with respect.
- When she listened, there was a special energy in the way she listened; employees walked away feeling that what they had to say was important.
How do you communicate?
Broadly speaking, there are three possible styles – equal, competitive or passive. (The study of transactional analysis, and the book ‘You’re OK, I’m OK’ by Thomas Harris will give you an expansion of this way of looking at communication). As you study the following descriptions, think how you speak to the different people in your life. You’ll find the method you choose for each person holds up a mirror to the way you see yourself in relation to that person.
An equal communicator sees him or herself as equivalent to the other person.
Equal communication is:
A competitive communicator sees him or herself as superior, and the other person as inferior.
Competitive communication is:
A passive communicator sees him or herself as inferior, and the other person as superior. Passive communicating is indirect and manipulative. Hinting, guilt trips, indirect verbal put-downs or back-biting are used to quietly sway others to their way of thinking. It’s hard to know what passive people are thinking and feeling.
Passive communication is:
- Pushing your own feelings down
- Ignoring situations