Often the people who are in leadership positions never imagined themselves there to start with. Particularly within small businesses. We work predominantly with SMEs and most of the business owners we come across started their business for more time, money or freedom (or all three). But they often tell me that they never imagined they would have a team to look after.
So what are the key things you need to know if you find yourself in a leadership position when you hadn't planned on it?
Self-Awareness & Leadership
The best tip I can share with you is to always be reflecting on and improving yourself. The most effective leaders I have come across in my time have been able to remove themselves from a situation, reflect and then act. They always want to respond in the right way, rather than respond without thinking. They understand that they don't have all the answers and that it's okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. These leaders are able to bring people on a journey with them, rather than simply instruct. They inspire those around them to be their best.
Empathy & Leadership
In leadership, empathy doesn't mean agreeing with employees that everything is terrible. It's being able to understand and ackowledge how others are feeling, but remove the emotion to address the situation objectively. Take performance management meetings as an example, simply telling someone they are bad at their job will not inspire them to improve. A leader will tell them objectively what is going wrong, understand the employee's viewpoint with empathy and work with them to move forward.
Communication & Leadership
The biggest mistake I see leaders make is failing to communicate. We often expect people around us to know what we expect from them without having actually verbalised it. "It should be obvious!" I hear my clients cry in frustration. But it isn't obvious, unless you have verbalised or written an instruction or expectation clearly, it will never be obvious. Always, always, always communicate what you want from your team and what you expect. It makes everyone's job much easier.
As we move into the Festive period, it is even more important that leaders are reflecting on their management style, how clear their communication and expections are and what they could do to empower their teams even further. As workloads intensify, staff morale and energy drops as everyone has Christmas cheese and wine on the brain, take the time to prioritise key projects, support your team and ackowledge the work they have given you throughout the year.
Be clear in exactly when staff are allowed home for Christmas. Be clear in exactly what projects are non-negotiable and what can wait until January.
Be empathetic to the fact that not everyone enjoys the festive season.