Being a Leader My Team is Happy to Work For
I recently got a promotion and am now managing a team for the first time in my career. How can I ensure I’m a good leader that my team is actually happy to work for?
First of all, congratulations on the promotion and the desire to put in the work to be a good leader.
Put yourself in the position of an employee whose leader is someone people actually want to work for. Several benefits—for you as the employee, and for the organization--spring from that:
I want to go the extra mile for you. I’ll work harder.
I’ll enjoy my job more.
I’ll be less interested in looking for work elsewhere (so lower attrition)
I’ll feel more connected, engaged, and have a greater sense of belonging to my team and my organization.
I’m more likely to feel a personal sense of mission and purpose in my work.
The “Dos” on being a leader everyone wants to work for:
Treat your employees with respect so that they feel respected.
Communicate as openly and honestly as you can, particularly during challenging times. Employees appreciate more rather than less information that is relevant to them. That said, don’t bog them down in needless detail.
Show your own humanity. This makes you less of a two-dimensional figure and makes things personal, in a good way.
Look for opportunities to give people specific feedback—both about what they’ve done well, and opportunities for growth and development. In addition to helping employees with their own professional development, specific feedback lets them know that you’re aware of their work, that you take an interest, and want to help them.
Avoid being a “command and control” type of leader, who issues orders without supplying context or being open to feedback. In this day and age, this type of leader will rub most people the wrong way. Bring people along with your thinking—help them understand context, so that the action doesn’t seem random or impulsive. This approach also gives employees an opportunity to point out possible downsides. When leaders aren’t open to feedback, their blind spots stay blind, and the organization will suffer.
Don’t micromanage. Let people have responsibility and authority for the work you give them.
Don’t keep changing priorities for your employees—unless you absolutely have to. It is demoralizing for employees to work hard on something that is “high priority” only to have priorities shift again and again. If you have to do it (because people above you are doing it to you), be thoughtful about how you convey the change in priorities and the value of the work they’ve already done.
Disclaimer: This question and response is provided for informational purposes only, and you should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of this content. It is strongly recommended that you immediately seek legal or other professional advice if you believe you are experiencing a problem requiring professional assistance. Robin Rosenberg and Live in Their World, Inc. disclaim all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on Dear Robin content.