Leadership is one of the most important topics in New Zealand today and not just in the political arena. We reached out to our colleagues at Vincent Nugent Associates who specialise in business improvement consultation, training and delivery to talk about leadership within the SME space. As a Director Kevin Vincent, has over 30 years’ experience in management as a GM & CEO. We asked Kevin to talk to us about leadership qualities and molding them within yourself and your team.
Kevin Vincent on becoming a “Team Leader”
The futurist Alvin Toffler (1980) described the organisation of the future as “The Third Wave”: …. As we shift to the new principles and begin to apply them together, we are necessarily led to wholly new kinds of organisations for the future. Third Wave organisations have flatter hierarchies. They are less top heavy. They consist of small components linked together.
If we take Toffler’s point of view as accepted, then we see individual contributions coming as a result of understanding how our efforts work with others, how we integrate those efforts, and how we take on board others points of view and then focus on a single performance objective. In short, our contributions increasingly will come as a result of our ability to understand teamwork and teams.
If you have been promoted from within the team, then no doubt you have some very good ideas on what needs improving. Your own manager will see you as innovative, technologically savvy and willing to learn. He or she may have said to colleagues “My new team leader / manager will be like a breath of fresh air for the team — just what the doctor ordered.”
All of your traits and characteristics are highly valued by your employer — probably the reason you have been promoted. Applied appropriately, they are very positive characteristics to have and will ensure your success in your new role.
On the downside, these same characteristics that are valued so highly by your employer, may count for nothing with the people you are about to manage. They did not appoint you.
Having worked with many experienced and not so experienced managers, I have seen what leads to success and what can impede success.
Making the step up to become a team leader from being a “member of the team” is never an easy one. No longer are you merely a colleague of the rest of the team you are now the boss or their manager. So how can you gain the respect of the team and become a trusted team leader?
- You should never ask a member of the team to do something which you would not be willing to do yourself. Although it may seem strange the boss who empties the bins from time to time can be respected as they are being seen “to muck in” as it were. You will achieve respect by practicing good habits. ”One is what one does”.
- Keep the ego in check! Samuel Feinberg – How Do You Manage (1966) wrote this poem which is very appropriate.
A Sobering Thought
Sometime when you are feeling important,
Sometime, when you egos in bloom,
Sometime, when you take it for granted
You are the best in the room,
Sometime, when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow this simple instruction,
And see how it humbles you soul.
Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hands in it, up to your wrist,
Pull it out, and the hole that’s remaining
Is a measure of how you will be missed.
You may splash all you please when you enter,
You can stir up the water galore,
But stop and you will find in a minute,
That it looks the same as before.
The moral of the example
Is to do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself, but remember,
There is no indispensible man (or woman)
- Be decisive. A good team leader is decisive and will have good communication skills. You can fail your driving test for being hesitant and you can lose the respect of the team for exactly the same reason. Certainly trust your gut instinct, but before jumping into action, reflect – Is this the best approach for this issue at this time? What are some other alternatives? Look, see, understand, learn and act.
- Use the experience within your team. It’s easy to think that “I’m the manager. I’m supposed to know what I’m doing, so it may make me look weak if I ask for help.” There’s only a very slight difference between self confidence and arrogance. The self confident manager says “I definitely know there is an answer (somewhere) to this challenge or problem.” Whereas the arrogant manager says “I have the answer to this challenge or problem”.
- The team leader should be hard working; you may be surprised to see the number of people who become a bit “lazy” when they become promoted to a team leader position thinking they have made it. Good le aders have drive; they get things started and keep them moving.
- Honesty and fairness are qualities that are essential and looked for in most human beings and are again “a must” for a team leader who is looking to be respected by his/her team.
- Having favourites in the team is a big “no-no” as each member of the team should be treated in the same way, whether the team leaders like them as people or not.
- A respected team leader will also be able to motivate the members of the team and ensure that people enjoy being at work- no small feat! A happy team is a productive team.
Good team leaders are often highly optimistic people. Not only do they believe in others, but their view on life is that things are somehow going to work out all right. I believe optimism is about having a positive outlook, maintaining a sense of humour and developing long term confidence. Being responsible is to realize our choices are significant – what we do affects who we are and where we will end up.
Remember this; from Henry Ford “Anyone that stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young”
Pressed by, James Webster | Head of Sales & Marketing