Leading a team successfully is not necessarily about having the knowledge, or even the experience in your chosen field. From a psychological perspective, leading and inspiring a team is more about the way in which you engage your team, than technical knowledge. Many businesses underestimate the impact of this, and they promote people to management positions based on the knowledge they have developed – and not on their ability to lead. The following tips can help you to positively manage your team, and inspire them to work more effectively.
With the development of technology and globalised business, home working is becoming more common. Employees no longer have to be in a fixed space at all times, and research has shown that both employees and businesses can benefit. How does this affect people’s ability to lead their teams, if they are not psychically together?
Firstly, it’s important to note that this is a different working environment. People are not used to working from separate physical locations, and emails can give rise to conflict due to miscommunication.
The best approach is to adapt your home working leadership skills for different staff members. For example, our research has found that outgoing and extrovert employees are more likely to be successful working from home. Personality is really important and home working won’t necessarily suit everyone. Using this insight can help dictate how you manage, for example, more introverted staff who are working from home; might they need a little more support and regular check-ins?
At Pearn Kandola, we have developed the iLEAD toolkit to support leaders developing the most effective teams. It provides them with ideas and practical advice on how to handle a wide range of work challenges, including how to motivate others, how to develop greater resilience, and how to generate a compelling vision.
Secondly, the technology used to enable home working varies. Many depend upon phone calls or tele-conferencing, but the best method is video-conferencing. Our research has shown that video-conferencing is a much more successful means of communication and it is the closest to face to face contact. It leads to less conflict amongst staff and enhances the ability to get the best from a team, whilst heightening employee productivity.
Inspirational leadership always includes empathy. Research has shown that leaders who display empathy through their everyday behaviour are rated more highly in their leadership abilities. People with high levels of empathy are perceived to be interested in other people and they express concern and support for their welfare. Having a high level of empathy for employees can help leaders understand what best motivates them to change their behaviour and develop themselves as individuals.
Keep it simple with coaching
Meet with your employees regularly to coach and discuss their goals, but keep it simple. It’s best not to try and achieve too much in any one discussion, as having a long to-do list of personal development can often mean that nothing gets done at all. Set regular SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) mini-goals that can be achieved over a number of weeks or months, and check in on progress. Always close the session with clear next steps that your employees are bought into. Asking questions to check on motivation can help achieve this.
Helping your team reach solutions
When issues crop up in the workplace, your employees are likely to come to you with challenges and questions. Although it might be quickest to give them ‘the answer’ to their questions, the best way you can approach this is to help them come to their own conclusions. You can help them get there by asking question about their view of the options, or the best way forward. Try, where possible, to help them come to the final solution themselves. This will help them feel confident about how to move forward, and in time your employees will develop the confidence to solve difficult issues on their own.