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There is nothing as wasteful as a leader in a position and is ignorant of his/her priorities. I have always shared the notion that in every human being is the craving and desire to lead. Everyone is potentially a leader. However, some are very successful at thwarting and suppressing the leadership potential through various well-crafted excuses. I have discussed some before in another article. Now that you know you are a leader in your team, I need to acquaint you with your priorities. Mixed priorities normally create concoctions which are detestable and whose results go against organizational thrust and direction. Below are the 10 Priorities to keep close to your chest.
1. Inspire and motivate your team – Keep them motivated and energized to tackle the tasks at hand. Reward good performance and celebrate the bright sparks in the team. Create healthy competition. Build a strong team based on trust and transparency. You don’t need to be a motivational speaker to say to John “Hey John, I have seen your diligence, I see you go an extra mile, I am giving you time off on Friday to be with your family”. Simple gesture that will give you incredible results you will get.
2. Delegate; do not abdicate – Do not do all by yourself. You can never manage without having a spinal disorder. You are called a leader because there are people behind you. You have followers who break your responsibility down into smaller manageable chunks. They are not below you for decoration or to show off how powerful you are. Be clear in your delegation what level of authority you are giving your subordinate. If they have authority to act then you still take responsibility for whatever the outcomes of their decisions are.
3. Communicate and over communicate – Sometimes you may have a team whose view of the Vision, goals, expectations and values is skewed. Where there is no vision, it is left to assumption and personal opinion and views. Get people to share a common vision. A leader who has poor communication skills will always achieve less. There are by far too many means and ways to communicate in this Information age than in other time past where there was no email, internet etc. Find creative ways to over communicate without bringing monotony.
4. Training and Leadership Development – A good leader is always developing and mentoring leaders below to avoid yawning gaps when the leader leaves. Create a culture of always creating a leader in every follower. That way the organization is very strong as everyone knows they are being setup for leadership success and when the time comes, people are not panicking and wondering who is to take over as everyone is ready.
5. Model good character and integrity – Your character is what most followers will learn from not necessarily what you speak. If you as leader come to work late all the time, you should not be surprised when the team starts doing the same. They do what they see their master do. Avoid the old statement “do as I say, not as I do”. They will always do as you do and don’t blame them. It only makes sense to do so.
6. Mobilize human and financial resources – financial and human and others- As the leader, you are the one that hires the people you want to work with. You know the skill gaps you have or the intellectual matrix in your team. Don’t just get people who think and act like you. Find those who know and think differently. Team members must complement each other. Avoid duplications. Also realize that you are the one that makes sure that your team is raising enough finances to sustain itself and other areas of the department or organization. You are to mobilize all the time. A resourceful leader gains the respect of followers. They feel they can depend on you.
7. Protect those who follow you – As leader, you exist to cover your followers from prowlers. People from outside your team can easily damage your team members if they take it upon themselves to rebuke, correct etc. You must correct your leaders out of the relationship you have built. Outsiders never take the liberty to check the extent of the damage from their own utterances. You will always be the nurse over your wounded soldiers hence your time is wasted mending what others did. If you do not protect them, you lose them and lose time doing what is not core business. Every human being desires a sense of security in whatever position or team they belong to.
8. Personal Growth and Development – As a leader, you need to grow. As you have a drive to train and develop others, you too must be in a position to dish out what you have learned. If you do not stay abreast with the ever changing trends, you will derail organizational effectiveness, success and excellence. Today’s “wow” is familiar territory by tomorrow. Create new “wows” for your team. Be the hunter for new information, latest gadgets, latest methodologies and tools for the trade.
9. Plan and Strategize – As leader, you need to sharpen your planning and strategy skills. You are not supposed to always worry yourself over operational issues all the time. You have teams who are hand on while you take an eagle’s view of the whole department or ministry. Regular review of achievements against set strategy and objectives will show you the progress and impact you are making. Where there is no strategy, chaos is the order of the day. Where there is no plan, excellence hides or shies away.
10. Discipline and Order – Everything must be done decently and in order. Follow the system. No shortcuts. As a leader you have a role to ensure you have disciplined followers who take responsibility for their actions. Where someone has gone against the code of conduct, the relevant action must be taken for others to learn. There is an expected behavior in the workplace. Refer to my article on Office etiquette. Just like a parent uses a rod to drive foolishness from a child, you have to institute corrective action lest you groom rebels that will haunt you.