Successful businesses often have leaders who excel at developing skills, guiding employees and being a consistent voice of reason. Leadership entails ample responsibility, with a variety of common challenges associated with the leadership role. Fortunately, leaders can respond to many of these challenges with proper foresight and handling of the situation.
Providing Timely Feedback
A common role for leaders is to provide feedback, both complimentary and constructively critical. Since people vary in their response to criticism, providing feedback can often be a tricky task. What’s important, regardless of individual response, is the timeliness of specific feedback.
In fear of appearing controlling, some leaders opt to hold off feedback until a designated period, like an annual review. However, certain types of feedback are time-sensitive, such as if an employee is misleading customers. The failure to provide prompt feedback can be a detriment to an employee’s performance improvements.
Setting Clear and Realistic Goals
A team typically looks to their leader for a project’s goals. The leader should establish expectations regarding work and results. Many goals involve numbers, so leaders should incorporate those if relevant.
Leaders should establish both individual and team goals. Leaders can consult with each team member to clarify the expectations of their work and the subsequent results of that work. When addressing the team as a whole, clarify the roles of each individual team member and how that task meshes with the team’s collective goals. Cohesively intertwining team and individual goals will provide a clear vision.
Rushing the Recruitment Process
For time-sensitive tasks, in particular, leaders may have the temptation to quickly recruit team members, for the sheer purpose of ensuring full availability. However, rushed recruiting can lead to very poor results. Additional training and lack of communication will sap away any extra time saved from the quick recruitment process, anyway.
Additionally, leaders will not have a firm enough grasp of individual work personalities and skills in a rushed recruitment, making task delegation more difficult. The recruitment process should be patient and contemplative, not rushed or forced.
Establishing a High-Effort Culture
Leaders who spend their day chatting on the phone about non-work tasks or putting forth a halfhearted effort can expect the same from their team members. Leaders should be the role model for their team. If asking team members to stay late for a task, leaders should stay right there with them, or risk the impression of not doing their part. Leaders should always follow their own rules. A leader who thinks they are “above the law” or overly self-important can result in a team putting in minimal effort, compared to working with a leader they respect and trust.
Task delegation is an immensely important task for leaders. Assigning team members to tasks that don’t fit their role can provide poor results and inner frustration. Failure to delegate, or mindlessly doing so, is exemplary of a leader who does not trust their team. If a leader is unsure about a team member’s skills or experience, they should ask them and use that response when weighing which tasks to assign.
Although some leaders may be tempted to shift team members outside of their comfort zones, sticking someone with a task they’re not capable of effectively doing can sap motivation and come across mean-spirited in some scenarios. As a result, quality leaders delegate tasks with precision and foresight, acknowledging preferences and skill sets.
Valuing Customer Selection
Leadership expert Marshall Goldsmith, named the “World’s No. 1 Leadership Thinker” by Harvard Business Review and the author of three New York Times bestsellers, emphasizes the importance of customer selection. While working with Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally, Goldsmith noticed excellent results and spoke with Mulally, who explained the importance throughout his career of customer selection.
Ideally, if you select the right customers, you will not experience failure. Although it’s impossible to always select optimal customers, regularly doing so will ensure a smoother process for your team as a whole, while emphasizing a leadership ability to favor the quality of customers over the quantity of them.
When a team has trust in their leader, they can save an extraordinary amount of time. Without a reason to question delegation efforts or set goals, team members can spend more time and focus on the work at hand. Building trust comes from an aim for transparency. A lack of transparency is abundant in many workplaces, though leaders can avoid that by being very communicative with their team regarding their roles and expectations. A team leader who keeps their team in the dark, knowledge-wise, is not one who will build trust — or get great results.
Leaders who encounter these seven leadership challenges face a true test in how they can overcome them. In many of these cases, greater transparency and communication can pay off significantly.
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