When managing a team, it is important to think about efficiency, approach and individuality.
Every individual that makes up a team is different, so a 'one size fits all' approach may not work.
There are different leadership theories that explain different approaches to leadership. One of these is the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership theory. The idea is about approaching the leadership of each team member differently, depending on how much direction and support they need.
Some members of the team may be competent and committed to their role and responsibilities, while others may be less competent and less committed. A self-reliant achiever with high competence and commitment needs less support and direction, and a manager can easily delegate tasks to them. A capable but cautious performer with high competence and variable commitment will need support, to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities and have the necessary help to complete them. Leaders can be influential regardless of the context and situation; however, some argue that there isn't enough detail in the context of any situation.
It's also important to think about whether you are a leader or a manager. There are similarities and differences, but managers are thought of as more independent, take charge, and tell their team what to do. A leader is thought of as more involved, leading by example, offering guidance and working with the team.
Another leadership theory is Management Theory / Transactional leadership. This theory focuses on supervision, organisation and performance. The team is rewarded or punished based on their performance. This theory follows the idea that people only do things for the rewards involved, rather than for another reason, i.e. just feeling good about getting the job done. This theory can be practical due to the proof of positive reinforcement as an effective motivation tactic. However, the negative punishment side can lead to demotivation of employees and is also considered a more 'lazy' approach to leadership.
How do you manage your team? Is this way of leadership effective?
When working with and leading a team, communication is key. Whether you are working on a group project, or need an update on when a piece of work will be complete, effective communication helps the team in many different ways.
At Cone, we are a remote team. This means that our approach to communication within our team and business may be different from a company with all of its staff working from one physical office. The number of face-to-face meetings we have is close to 0 currently, but we connect in other ways, such as video calls on GoogleMeet and instant messaging on Slack. These methods help us to communicate virtually and digitally no matter where we are.
Some essential communication skills include active listening and the ability to adapt your style for different situations and when talking to different people. Active listening is about listening, taking in and understanding what someone is saying, and actually taking action to deal with any points or issues they have raised to you and implementing process changes and improvements.
When leading a small team, there is usually more room for clarity and transparency between leaders and their teams. Everyone's views can be shared openly, and any issues can be communicated within the group; this also builds trust with the team as members feel valued.
Empathy is a skill linked to leadership, and adapting the skill has many benefits. In fact, empathy has been ranked the top leadership skill needed for success. In the modern-day, staff expect to be respected and treated fairly. Many employees also want to be able to talk to their managers about how they are feeling, whether this is to do with their workload or their personal life.
Having empathy for your team's situations and being able to communicate empathetically is a great skill to have. Not only will your team be more open and honest with you, this can also lead to heightened loyalty within the team because they trust that you have their best interests at heart and want this to be mutual.
In summary, there are many approaches you can take to leadership. You need to choose the right approach for you and all of your team members.
If you lead your team successfully, they will bring success to you and your business.