Remote work has put managers in a precarious position. The natural distance between leaders and their people has many managers defaulting to a style that isn't in line with what the best leaders do.
I hear from managers all the time; "I hire the best people and let them do their work." While this makes sense on the surface, I don't know one high performer who doesn't leverage a coach to help them perform. Let's use athletes as an example. The best golfers in the world have instructors to help them hone their craft. The best basketball players in the world have head coaches that create systems for them to play at their best.
Talented professionals that are high-performers are no different. They need a leader to help create a positive culture and to challenge them to higher performance levels.
Great leaders are involved in helping their teams be successful.
Be Involved But Don’t Micromanage
For the sake of clarity, let's get clear on what it means to be a micromanager. Webster defines it as; "manage[ment] especially with excessive control or attention on details".
It is common for micromanagers to have narcissistic or perfectionist tendencies which can influence how they delegate work to their team. These managers don't believe the work can be done properly by anyone but themselves. Micromanagers typically take credit for a team’s great results but are just as ready to pass the blame for negative results.
Being a micromanager is not what the best leaders do; but, at least they are involved (albeit too frequently and in the wrong way). If you are ready to be involved in the right ways as a manager here are a few ideas:
Define a Vision that Creates Excitement
When Dabo Swinney interviewed to be the head football coach at Clemson University, many board members had the vision to raise the program to levels like some of the blue bloods of college football. Instead of echoing that vision, Swinney squashed it. "Best is the standard I want to see here. I am not setting out to be like someone else. I am here to create a new standard in college football." It sounded crazy at the time, but 10+ years later, Swinney and the Clemson Tigers have made that vision a reality.
Simon Sinek famously said: "great leaders must have two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate that vision clearly." Even if you don't see yourself as a visionary leader, giving your team a picture of a world that doesn't exist today, is a worthwhile aspiration.
Involve them in short-term measurable goals
After interviewing hundreds of the best leaders on the planet to write Building the Best, it is clear that great leaders understand two simple things about goal setting. First, they know how important goals are; the true meaning of the word "team" means "coming together as a group to achieve a common goal." Second, they set goals that their team cares about achieving. Great leaders define short term goals their team cares about achieving.
Research has revealed that setting challenging and specific goals further enhance employee engagement in attaining those goals. Google uses Objectives and Key Results (OKR's) to help managers and their teams perform better. Many companies have been working hard to provide leaders with the tools to be successful in setting short term measurable goals for remote work.
I have been using Peoplebox.ai and couldn't be more impressed with aligning my team to short term measurable goals. If you don't have a tool, now is the time, especially if you lead a remote team.
Coach like You’re a Carriage
One of the ways a leader positively involves and separates themselves as a manager is by coaching their people. A coach is someone who trains and instructs. The word coach comes from "carriage," which means to take someone from where they are today to where they want to go.
It is impossible to be an effective carriage when you are completely hands-off. Instead, it requires you to be in tune with the effort, performance, and mindset of each team member, and look for ways to help them improve.
Sometimes this means knowing when to be quiet; other times, it means asking thought-provoking questions. Here are a few of my favorite coaching questions to add to your arsenal:
- Could you walk me through your thought process?
- What do you think we should do to create the best result for everyone?
- What other approaches might you take next time?
Connect Before you Correct
If you don't know about the importance of love and discipline in your leadership style, you might be making a huge mistake.
It's essential to understand what love and discipline are; both are in the context of leadership.
Love is to contribute to someone's long term success and well being (to will the good of another)
Discipline is to promote standards in order for an individual to choose to be at their best.”
In leadership, one is more important than the other. The reason is simple, because you have to connect before you correct.
Hiring the right people to help run your business is always going to be important; but, don’t let your confidence in the skills of your team cause you to fall into the trap of being absent as their leader. Your involvement is necessary for the success of the team and the business; it is finding the balance in that involvement which will take both to new heights.
About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making virtual training easy and effective. He was named one of LinkedIn's Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the "Follow My Lead" Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today's leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.
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