Today, I was talking to a friend who leads an business function within his organisation and we were talking about leadership. When I asked him, what were his top priorities as a leader for his function, he gave me his priorities as below:
Ensure that there is alignment between what the business wants to achieve and what the individual employees want to achieve. This is critical as this creates an organisation where everyone is running in the same direction (for whatever reasons) and hence creates momentum and the opportunity for great team work to flourish.
As a leader, he is responsible for the behaviour of his team. He needs to create an environment which encourages the right behaviour from the team.
- Encourage Ideas: He needs to work on creating the right kind of culture where members of his team are not afraid of sharing their ideas with him and the team.
- Sounding board: He also needs to work on creating a relationship with his team members where they are open and willing to use him as a sounding board for their ideas – professional and personal. This not only creates a lot of trust but also helps him in understanding what his team members are going through (thinking and feeling) and that can help him build the right alignment and if needed course correct.
- Career Growth: He needs to work on understanding the true goals of his team and help them grow in their careers. This could mean that you get someone from your team to join a cross-functional project so that he/she has the opportunity to create a network & learn which could further his/her ambitions of career growth. This could also mean having open, honest conversation with people whom he can’t provide any growth opportunities within the organisation.
He needs to work to identify the right opportunities for him to intervene and coach his team members. The best coaching happens when it is done at the right moment, when the person being coached is open to being coached. As a leader, its his responsibility to try to be aware of such moments and make use of them when they happen.
My personal opinion is that these qualities are probably the right one’s to become a good manager, which is the pre-requisite for becoming a good leader. This by no means is an easy job.. That is both the challenge and the allure of leading a set of people. I personally think that my friend is doing all the right things to be a good manager and thereby creating a solid foundation for becoming an effective leader.