How to be a Better Leader

As a people manager, most of you have pain. I feel your pain. Believe me I do. I’ve been there.

Let me see if I get this one right. You walk into your office on a Monday morning and you likely arrive before your team members do. You grab your coffee, sit down and run through your emails.

8.30 or 9am rolls around and some of your staff have trickled in, but others on your team are still missing. You begin to feel resentment toward those who don’t have the same “work ethic” as you – why can’t they just get to work on time?

Fast forward a few hours and you’re busy getting your own work done while trying to direct the work of your team. You’ve got a few big projects on tap and need to get them accomplished. There are senior leaders relying on you. You need to come through!

Then, you begin to feel crushed. Squeezed from the top and squeezed from the bottom.

You find yourself being stuck in a place where projects are meeting big hiccups and you are left there to justify them. Why are you over budget? Why are the deliverables late? You missed the deadline again?

Perhaps you have an important project that you are trying to see through to completion but there have been so many challenges YOU’RE now being pinned as the problem.

But it’s not your fault. All you want to do is go to work every day and do a great job. But how can you do this when you have a team of “mediocre” staff working for you? Or so you think…

Being a people manager is the hardest job in the world because it’s human nature to have an ego.

And at work, when you try and “help” your team by giving them feedback and direction, depending on the relationship you’ve built with them that might not go over so well. And some days can really suck.

Here are some tips I believe will help you to better manage your team and have an easier time at work.

Be Honest 

Look – sometimes personalities clash – and that’s ok. We are all different and that’s what makes us special – but sometimes different perspectives can kill business relationships.

So if you start to experience problems with your team, stay honest and do your best to explain in constructive terms what the challenges are and how you need to work together to fix them. You will make far more headway doing this than you will hiding information or managing with the iron fist.

Do your best to be a real person. Explain yourself, listen to their opinion and come together to support each other and get the job done.

Set Expectations 

Sometimes expectations need to be reset and recalibrated to see if they are even realistic. I used to work with a manager who was famous for saying yes to EVERYTHING and it killed the people working for him.

It’s ok to say no sometimes – or to re-prioritize so you can say yes. Just make sure you are getting your teams input on what is realistic before charging off and making promises to your boss. Nothing is worse than finding out you have to work till midnight because your boss promised something you can’t deliver in time.

Don’t Manage Up

Nothing can set off an entire team faster than when they have a boss they view as being a kiss a$$.

It hurts because employees feel like they aren’t on equal ground and no matter what they say it won’t be addressed because the boss’s boss turns a blind eye.

So do yourself a favor and be a good person. Respect those above you equally to those below you. At the end of the day we are all just trying to be good employees, support our families and build our careers.

Play nice and you’ll be rewarded with a loyal team who will watch your back when times get tough.

Don’t Blame Down

You’re in charge of the team. That means when shit rolls down hill, it stops with you. Or at least it should.

Throwing your employees under the bus will get you nothing but BIG headaches later on. You’ll lose the trust you’ve established and it will make every day feel like torture coming into the office.

As a leader, you are responsible for both the successes and failures as a team. Be accountable for the mistakes made by you and members of your team, learn from them and learn how to prevent them in the future.

Do you agree with the above advice? I’d love to hear what other items you’d add to the list!

And if you like this post you can read another here and here.