One of the most tricky challenges to supervising people is gaining their trust, having them respect their leader, and persuading them to do what their leader tells them to do.
The fact that the employee is being paid by the company to do what has to be done is not an automatic guarantee that the person will follow the leader unhesitatingly and cooperate with him willingly. We all know, unless the leader is also the owner of the company, that the superiority of the boss does not always equate obedience, respect, or loyalty.
In my years of training people on leadership and management and being led and managed myself , I have personally observed and experienced this dilemma. The good thing though was such exposures from both perspectives have made me arrive at what I call the Ps of Effective Leadership and Management or The Ps of Enhancing Workplace Leadership.
In this article, I will enumerate and tell briefly about these Ps that aid leaders and managers, regardless of their industry or nature of work, in communicating with their team members better and making much more effective their leadership and management skills.
Effective leadership is one that thrives in and fosters positive differences. A great leader is someone who does not feel uncomfortable with the personality variances of the people on his team. Instead, he uses such differences to find out how the various attitudes can translate into better communication, familiarity, and effective delegation of tasks.
It is very true that…
a great leader knows his people and knows about them too.
For a leader to be more effective, it is not enough that he knows the name, position, function, roles and responsibilities, home address, and age of his staff. It is also very helpful if he also knows, albeit carefully and sensitively, everybody on a personal level. This even includes a little of their personal background, some behavioral tendencies and even personal imperfections.
Leadership is a form of communication and a leader can better communicate if he can easily and quickly identify with where his employees are coming from, why they often do what they do and behave the way they do, and what areas for improvement in character can be corrected, replaced, or enhanced for a much more improved teamwork.
We all have our own preferences in the workplace. We prefer one colleague or boss over another, we opt to go home early instead of rendering overtime, or we’d rather stay holding on to our current positions than get promoted and face much greater challenges on a higher level. These are just a few of our differing work-related preferences.
However, the preferences that a leader needs to make use of and benefit from are the following:
Our working style is our personal liking of how we want our work done and done fast. Each employee has his/her own working style.
In terms of working with others, there are those who prefer to work alone as opposed to those who perform better when they have many people to brainstorm and accomplish tasks with.
In matters of quick responding, some people carefully plan their actions first before making any move whereas others prefer to take action right off the bat and just assess situations as they come; play everything by ear in other words.
Even by looking at how people perform on the outside, one can also see what their working styles are. Realistically speaking, others look very relaxed and ‘feel-at-home’ while others look very busy and ‘into it’ but both are actually putting in the same number of contributions for the achievement of the day’s goals and objectives.
Working styles are very important for leaders to know as much as they are for employees who want to know themselves deeply in order to become more productive, contributing, and efficient.
When leaders know what each contributor’s working style is, they would determine how they get things done and how efficiently they do it.
There are so many models or theories about learning styles that a concerned leader can refer to and leverage in order to know more about his team members. From a reference as simple as Neil Fleming’s VARK Model (Visual, Auditory, Reading, and Kinesthetic) and David Kolb’s Learning Styles Inventory to Peter Honey and Alan Mumford’s or Anthony Gregorc and Kathleen Butler’s versions, each uniquely recommends interpretations by which people learn differently in relation to influencing desired results and performance.
When a leader understands his people’s learning styles, giving instructions, delegating tasks, and even training and developing them become manageable.
Another group or framework of styles or preferences that leaders need to pay attention to and study among their team members is Communication Styles.
As mentioned earlier, leadership is a form of communication or communication is an important aspect or task of leadership itself. Therefore, a leader who has figured out how to communicate better with his people and with his people also communicating effectively to him in return has basically nailed how to maximize people correctly.
The best ways to find out persons’ communication preferences are by observing them during personal conversations and sitting down with them and asking them directly how they prefer to be communicated to instead.
For instance, one would find out that somebody on his team just prefers to be quiet but somehow still contributes in his own ways, there’s another one who is naturally vocal about his thoughts, and there’s another person who has always wanted to speak up but just could not find the right timing or avenue.
Putting this in perspective, upon knowing a team member’s preferences, it is very imperative for any leader to first of all, acknowledge and respect them and then make them work to his advantage.
The next P we’ll talk about is Priorities. For a leader to supervise his people much better and for the same to trust, respect, and look up to the leader, these priorities unique to each of them must be known, understood, and addressed.
The beauty of knowing about others so well as opposed to just knowing them is they get to open up more about their personal lives and they get to share or let their leaders discover what their work and life priorities are.
The leader would intentionally or even know by accident that people’s priorities are different. Some prioritize work and these people are easy to deal with because they don’t have to appreciate What’s In It For Them?.
On the other hand, there are some others who prioritize quality time with their families and they treat work as merely a ‘must-do’ for them in order to earn money to put food on the table, pay their bills, shoulder their children’s tuition, and sustain whatever their lifestyles are. These are the ones that need a little more compelling when they are supposed to render overtime work with or without pay, participate in company events or ‘out-of-office’ gatherings, or be given unusual tasks that would require them to step out of their comfort zones.
By respecting people’s priorities and finding a work around them instead, without allowing oneself to be abused and without sacrificing ‘Business As Usual’, there would be no need to antagonize the very same people whose support needs to be solicited.
Points of View, Positions, or Perspectives
As one of the sought-after in-house training providers in the Philippines on teamwork, leadership and management, and communication skills, I always tell people I train that:
The beauty of opinions is we get to see and hear differences in positions but don’t let the distinctions tarnish friendships and connections.
Opinions may be positive or negative and constructive or destructive. Nonetheless, everyone is entitled to his/her freedom of expression. In most instances, also, these contrasting perspectives among team members actually give the leader a peek into their thoughts regarding work and a lot more other concerns and topics in and out of the workplace.
Therefore, points of view, positions, or perspectives should actually be a good thing. When the leader promotes a team culture where it is okay for team members to be themselves, say their thoughts without rocking the boat, and even use these different perceptions as a source of of intelligent ideas during brainstorming, then the entire team gains more than the opposite.
Relating this back to improving people supervision, the leader must be acknowledging, understanding, appreciative, and respectful of dissimilar outlooks whether they be about career, religion, politics, or the society in general.
Last but not least, leaders can only be great if, for the sake of their employees’ growth and development, they would also factor in variations among their team members’ purposes in life and their career in particular.
Agree or not, not all people would want to get promoted. Some of them only have the desire to be the best they can be on their level. Reasons can vary from they’re afraid of leadership responsibilities, they are simply not interested, or they’re too happy, contented and satisfied where they are that they don’t need to get any higher. Furthermore, some people are only motivated by their salary and for as long as they are still getting paid and their pay consistently goes up year to year, they are already good with that.
The point is, it is very important that leaders make or find time sitting down with each of their employees to find out what they want to happen with their career and what career track they want to progress to during their stay in the company. By doing this, they get to know more about their life or work priorities and are able to design their career path based on those purposes.
The team members, for their part, get the chance to communicate their vision and mission in life and this event becomes the leader’s opportunity to align these personal vision, mission, and values with those of the team and the organization. Thus, alignment comes in and we all know that when there is alignment between the company and its corporate talents, leadership becomes less complicated and challenging.
In other words, leaders ought to find out their individual purposes. Whether one employee wants to be successful in his job, desires to be successful somewhere else, simply hopes to be a good spouse, sibling, or child, or needs to serve others, the leader must be respectful of these self-found roles in life and guide their careers towards these directions.
If the leader employs any or better yet, all of these Ps of Enhancing People Supervision, leading and managing don’t have to be a dreadful responsibility. We can all have fun helping others help themselves and our hopes of being respected, trusted, and looked up to as leaders are almost always assured.
Count on me with that.