Solid leadership is the cornerstone of good management. Oftentimes, when we face management issues, it may prove most beneficial to first consider our leadership tendencies, to assess if they are the root cause of the challenge. Consider the following issues and assess leadership tendencies that may be
hindering your company’s growth.
Issue #1: Not Seeing a Need for Professional Growth
Fast-paced workdays may seem reactionary with little time for reflection and learning regarding what is going well and what may need to change. Do we take the time and invest other resources in ourselves as leaders to continue to grow professionally? We understand the importance of developing employees.
What about developing ourselves as leaders? Important leadership skills are not realized through osmosis. Our leadership skills are developed through intentional, planned efforts.
Create a plan for your ongoing professional development. Some elements to include in your plan may be:
• Attend management or leadership classes on a routine basis.
• Attend at least one personal development seminar or program per quarter.
• Join a business “Book-of-the-Month Club.”
• Listen to audio programs on business areas that interest you and will benefit you.
• Bring a professional trainer into your organization to conduct a custom management or leadership program.
• Get active in your industry’s association.
• Attend networking events in your industry or at your professional level.
Issue #2: Not Planning Strategically
As we continue in business, we strive to meet the needs of our customers in an exceptional way. This requires strategic planning to ensure we can meet those needs today and in the future. Planning strategically can help define where the business is today and where the business needs to be tomorrow to remain competitive.
Strategic planning is forward looking. Start by asking the question, “If we consider our business three years from now, what would it look like.” In other words, how will our customer needs change, how will our market change, how will our industry change, and how will these changes impact our business. This gives you a picture of the future state or desired state of the business. Having a picture of the future state and assessing the business’s current state will help to define “gaps” that need to be addressed.
What specific actions does the business need to pursue to close the gaps to take the business closer to the desired state? Depending on the business, it may be helpful to identify two to three key strategic objectives or initiatives that the business will pursue over the next several years to realize the business’s desired, future state.
It’s important to have the right people involved in the planning process and ensure that you plan accordingly for the objectives that will be pursued. Effective communication within the planning team and within the organization is paramount when executing strategic change.
Issue #3: Not Looking for Assistance Outside the Walls of the Company
We can easily become shortsighted when we don’t seek ideas outside our typical world of work. Seeking advice or ideas outside our typical sphere of daily business interactions can foster creativity and problem solving approaches that we may not have considered previously.
One approach you may consider is to seek out a coach. A coach will be interested in seeing you succeed and seeing your business thrive. A coach may help reduce the amount of time you may typically spend in identifying real solutions for challenges you face at work. And, good coaches have learned the skill of asking great questions to respectfully challenge your thinking and allow you to identify the right solutions.
To find a coach, consider your contacts and identify someone who you think could play the role of coach. Reach out to that person and ask if he/she would be interested in coaching you. A key to successful coaching relationships is to clearly define roles and expectations regarding the relationship. And, remember, good coaches don’t give you the answers; they help you discover the answer for yourself.
Issue #4: Losing the Human Touch
It’s obvious that we rely heavily on technology at work and in our personal lives. Technology, in many respects, can make our daily work easier, more efficient, and more effective.
We also know that a key to great business success is relationship building. And an important question we need to ask ourselves at work is this: Is technology hindering my ability to build quality relationships with my employees and with my customers?
The next time you draft that e-mail message or pick up the phone, ask yourself: Is this the best way to connect with this person to deliver this message? Maybe it is; maybe it’s not. When we communicate through technology, oftentimes we lose a significant portion of the message and its meaning. When appropriate, get into the habit of bypassing the technology and choose to communicate in person.
Issue #5: Not Focusing on Priorities
In small to mid-sized businesses, we wear many hats to keep the business thriving. We learn to multi-task; it’s second nature. Each day seems to be filled with the tyranny of urgent requests that leave us losing our sense of focus.
Where is your focus? What are your priorities? Are you taking time to do those things that take you closer to your priorities? Focusing on priorities requires a solid planning system. Develop a planning system that works for you. Keep it simple so it gets used.
Perhaps it’s a pocket calendar or day planner that you keep with you. Or, perhaps it’s an electronic planning tool that you feel works best.
As you consider the work week ahead, what do you consider to be the top priorities? Plan your week using your planning system to help ensure you spend the time focusing on those priorities. Do the same for your daily planning. Before the urgency of the day’s events overwhelm you, take time to plan and schedule the priorities of your day.
Issue #6: Not Taking Breaks
Your personal capacity to get things done at work each day is predicated on two primary factors: your skill and the energy you have available. We often find ourselves rushing to work each day and perhaps rushing through each workday with little or no physical or mental down time. This has a significant impact on our physical, our emotional, and our mental capacity. We may find that we tend to experience burnout by the end of the day or week. We may tend to become reactionary and emotional in our responses when things become chaotic or otherwise stressful.
Take time to take a break. During your workday, take time to take breaks away from your desk, away from your office or workspace. You need some time to physically and mentally recharge. Meet with co-workers; don’t talk about work! Take a walk. Read a book. Listen to music. Do what’s necessary to disengage for a time so you can recharge.
Issue ##7: Not Planning for Projects
We may undertake projects every day at work. We may not characterize them as projects, but that’s what they are. Any work that we do that will have a limited duration and the output is some newly created “product” or “service” is considered project work. We differentiate project work from what we produce in the “daily operations” of our workday.
Typically, we plan for the resources needed for daily operations. That is the time, materials, and people needed to ensure the business functions. But how often do we consider the resource implications for the projects that we undertake? The way this normally plays out is we try to find a way to get the project accomplished by adding the work to someone’s already overloaded work schedule, or we take it on ourselves. We may find that we don’t get the quality output that we prefer or it may cost us in some other way.
When you’re undertaking projects, take some time to plan for it. What’s the scope of the work to
be accomplished? What specific tasks will have to be completed? Who are the right people to complete the work and how will the appropriate time be allocated? Are there additional funds that need to be allocated specifically for the project?
Take time to plan and ensure the right people and resources are available to complete the project.