Did you know that one in two employees leave their jobs because of their manager? I know you’ve heard it before and Gallup research shows these staggering numbers year after year.
People leave managers, not companies
You can have the best products in the market, the most advanced technology in your field and the nicest offices in the world, but if you don’t have great leaders and a company culture where people are happy AND productive, they will leave. And of course, that’s not new either. Yet, time and time again, I experience a lack of know-how and motivation by team leaders and department heads on how to lead others well.
I am working with an Associate Director of a national bank, let’s call him Derek, facilitating 1:1 coaching sessions and some teamwork sessions with his direct reports. He has had a fast journey from graduate to having been identified as a ‘high potential’ and has now completed his track to AD. A bright, young and driven individual and expert in his field of risk and compliance.
Derek has inherited a small team and hired two additional staff members. It has become evident that leading people is new to him. He has been trying to find his place by proving himself to his team, he has a very directive style, bordering on micro-management and he is focussed on ‘getting stuff done’, achieving goals and meeting deadlines. That’s how he has always worked.
He said to me: ‘I am trying hard to keep my team on track and I am very detail-oriented with them. I check their work all the time to make sure they are performing. They always seem behind, and they give me nothing in our meetings.’ Derek’s challenge is that he has not connected enough with his team on a personal level. All his conversations are about deadlines, projects and how to deliver.
But leading others is not about just us anymore. The second pillar of leadership focuses on connection. You need to tune into others and connect with them, while also connecting team members with each other.
Leading others is like being a conductor of an orchestra. To create a perfect symphony, the conductor needs to know all the different players, the sounds of their instruments and how they should be played. If the musicians don’t connect with each other and the music, the results will be a group of musicians simply playing their own individual tunes.
‘You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.’ – Ken Kesey
The job of a leader is first and foremost to lead and lead by example. What I find with many people leaders is that they forget about the people and focus too much on delivering outcomes and performance. Yet, our people are the ones delivering and if they are motivated, feel safe, have direction and resources they are more likely to perform.
Here is a simplified view of what a team leaders’ job is:
Communication and Relationships
For me, leading people ultimately comes down to two things: Communication & Relationships. What is the quality of your conversations with others and how strong are your relationships?
I encourage you to create self-awareness and get some feedback from your teams.
That’s what I did with Derek. He self-reflected and took the scary step of asking his team members what they need from him. They want autonomy, better team meetings where they have a voice and regular updates of what’s happening in the organisation. And no back-delegating and micro-managing anymore.
Leading with a coaching approach, delegating and creating a feedback culture are only some of the skills Derek learned to apply. He lets his team run the meetings and he facilitates the conversation. Of course, he still holds his team accountable, but he made himself trust them on how they get there. He now leads like a conductor.
- Communication & influencing
- Feedback & productive conflict
- Leading in a hybrid world
I go deep into each of these skills with stories, leadership frameworks and practical steps and advice. Order your copy here.