Since Mother's Day has just passed and Father's Day is coming up, many of us have spent a lot of time lately thinking about those people who have influenced us, taught us and motivated us.
Some of the best parenting skills, it turns out, are also some of the best leadership skills. Not to say that your employees are children (whether they may sometimes act like it or not), but that you, as the leader, must figure out how to guide each of your staff members to their highest potential. And sometimes, you need to use the skills of a parent to do it.
Be a role model. While it sounds obvious, practicing it day to day is more difficult. Your actions, your behavior, and even your body language can set the tone; it can affect not only the mood of the day but also the culture of the department. Model the behavior you want your employees to emulate.
Set expectations. Any parent or leader knows that before you can expect exemplary performance, you must make sure your expectations are clearly outlined and explained to ensure that everyone understands what is expected and why.
Teach skills. Managers are often very good about providing technical skills, but they overlook softer skills. Supervisory and teamwork skills, for example, are essential in order to create a collaborative and highly effective work group. Be mindful to teach these skills instead of expecting your employees to know them automatically.
Let them do the work. Once the expectations have been established, give your employees the room and opportunity to do the job. Too many managers hover over their employees, looking for the first opportunity to jump in and correct a mistake. This doesn't serve anyone's best interest. Micromanaging undermines your team's confidence and prevents them from having the opportunity to overcome obstacles. Furthermore, the time you spend looking over their shoulders is time you neglect your own job.
Provide support. Letting your employees do their job doesn't mean hanging them out to dry. Just like teenagers still need their parents around for advice and guidance, even your most independent employees need continued coaching.
Enjoy the job. Bring a sense of joy to your job. Managers, like parents, can sometimes get stuck in the habit of focusing on the numerous challenges, problems and hiccups that can occur in the course of a day, overlooking the positives. As a result, you, and your employees can get a false sense of doom and gloom. Instead, look for the opportunities to celebrate successes, big or small. While you certainly need to be serious about your job, there's nothing wrong with having fun while you work. Bringing that sense of appreciation to your job and to your employees can help create a workplace environment that you all enjoy.
Whether you're a leader, a guide, a coach, or a parent, part of your main purpose is to develop your followers, your staff, your team or your kids. Understanding and implementing these universal skills will move your people forward.