As a leader, you want to project your best self and you want to get the best from the interactions you have with others. You don’t want to walk a labyrinth to get from point A to B, but instead, you want to take the easy path, which isn’t always straight, but it’s clearly not the winding road of a labyrinth. You want your professional interactions summarized into categories of relationships between you and your customers, manager, peers, and direct reports, to be easy.
As a leader, you have a great obligation to see that your customers are given the best possible care. Customers are the reason you do what you do and customers are crucial to your success. As you lead your team, make a key component of your strategy to make it easy for the customer to do business with you. Can your current and future customers find you and communicate with you using the tools they are comfortable with? Do you provide accurate information? Are you available, flexible, and efficient in the delivery of your service? Do you make it easy to pay and understand your bill? Do you give high-quality advice? Your obligation is to review and continue to review the way you do business and validate that it is easy for your customers.
One path to personal success is to make your manager successful. Deliver information on time. Understand the rhythm and structure of the business and help your manager be ready for the peaks and valleys of the business. Keep your manager informed and in a position to stay on top of the critical issues of the business. Help them grow their reputation in a positive direction. Be the yin to their yang, filling the pieces of the puzzle where they are poor and you are strong so that together you are a better and more complete whole. Ease their daily process by anticipating their needs and honoring their request with complete and professional deliverables.
Meet your deadlines. Adapt quickly; appreciate the diversity of your team, their work styles, opinions, and delivery of their work product. Be supportive, holding knowledge is not power, giving knowledge away is powerful. Don’t blame others and point fingers, people engaged in the process will know and understand what is going on and who is not pulling their weight, you don’t need or want to be a part of the finger-pointing game.
Support team member ideas, build upon them if they are not quite in the place you think they should be, but give credit to the collaborative process as you influence the direction of the team. Be a good listener. Be involved, take the time to help your teammates, share ideas, solutions, proposals, and be ready to give and receive the same.
Be present in your direct reports’ daily work lives. Host one-on-one meetings, attend their presentations when you can, understand their deliverables and recognize their positive behavior. Reward, Reward, Reward. Consistently consider the frequency and methods you use to reward your team. Be ready to give coaching and mentoring support to your direct reports. Observe your teams’ work output. Speak with their customers and peers. Your team will accomplish more if you make an investment in understanding their activities.
Every idea, suggestion, proposal from your reports deserve action and a response. Investigate if you say you will, present to Sr. Management if you say you will, create the requisition if you say you will. It is critically important to respond to the employee so that they know you have kept your word and the result of them putting their faith in you. Let your hiring and work assignment practices allow your team members to do the things they are good at and to perform stretch activities with the support they require. This will make it easier for people to report to you and feel good about the relationship.
You need to take care of yourself: in mind, body, and in spirit. Eat well, exercise, read, write and relax.
SWEAR to be your best!
Silence – Take time to think and renew, get enough sleep;
Workout – Walk, Run, Jump, Move and Refuel;
Enthusiasm – Be positive; invest good energy in helping your audience;
Author – Keep a journal, manage your to-do list, share information in writing;
Read – Take time to educate yourself, grow your expertise, and expand your horizons.
About the author
John R. Hill, Jr. is a Computer Engineer, IT/PM Consultant and author, with over 30 years of software development, management, and project management experience.