One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your team is to clearly define what you believe your leadership role is. People who are recognized as great leaders, such as Larry Page of Google and Sir Richard Branson, have taken time to very carefully consider what they bring to their organizations through their role as a leader. If you’re looking to maximize the performance of your team, investing some thought into your leadership role is an important start. There is no standard statement of a leadership role, but here are five aspects you might consider including in yours based on your mission and situation.
Setting the Vision for Your Team
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many leaders get caught up in the management and reporting of day-to-day tasks and never consider how to translate the big picture of what the team is supposed to be accomplishing into a clear, coherent vision. Leaders at every level should be able to take the guidance they’ve been given by higher level executives and turn that into a unique vision for their team to rally around. Looking at it another way, is it important for you to be able to set the vision of how the team will accomplish their mission, or would you rather let someone else’s opinion determine this for you?
Larry Page believes his role is to develop his employees and empower them to have great ideas. Photo credit: By Marcin Mycielski, European Parliament (Stansfield) (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
The degree to which innovation is required or desired also depends on the mission the team has been given to carry out and the methods which they use to do it. Some missions and objectives require more rigid adherence to process and procedure than others, but keeping an eye towards improvement and increasing efficiency is useful even in the most process driven team. Some leaders are lucky enough to have team members who are always coming up with new ideas and initiatives, or new ways to use existing technology and resources better. Do you see your role as a leader to encourage these behaviors? If you have a team that is not so forward-looking, does your role need to be more focused on challenging them to look at their jobs in new and innovative ways?
Empowering as Part of your Leadership Role
In order to be focused on implementing your vision and helping your team come up with innovative ideas to face the challenges that you share, you may find it necessary to free up your attention from tasks that your team members can be taking on for themselves. If empowering your team members to operate autonomously without direct supervision is important to you, you’ll need to critically assess their ability to handle the increased responsibility you intend to give them. Are do they have the skill, experience and judgment to make decisions without your approval? Which decisions are you willing to delegate down to them and which do you want to reserve for yourself? Usually, not every team member is ready for the same level of responsibility, so consider how you will help each one grow into the role you have envisioned for them.
Developing the Talent on Your Team
One way that you can get your team ready to handle all of the increased responsibility you’ll be giving them through empowerment and delegation is to develop their skills and competencies. Providing each team member with a clear expectation of the proficiency level you expect them to have in their jobs and helping them build a development plan that grows their skills to the required level is a great way to start developing their talent. It’s also important to consider how much of their development you expect them to perform on their own initiative. Share with your team your view of how they should be developing themselves, what role the organization will take in their training, and how you will mentor and guide them.
Building future leaders
Sir Richard Branson is focused on the personal and professional development of his employees. Photo credit: By Land Rover MENA (British Polo Day Morocco) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Developing the future leaders of your organization is one of the most important challenges you can take on as a leader. Growing one or two of your team members to be able to be effective deputies is another way you can delegate some responsibility and free yourself up to focus on the things you believe are most important for you to handle personally. Many of us hope to advance in our careers and take on leadership positions with increased responsibility and the members of your team are no different. Giving them a path to meet their future career goals also provides your organization with a variety of qualified candidates for your position when you are ready to move on to an amazing opportunity.
Of course, there are other aspects that you might find more important than these five to incorporate into your leadership role. It all depends on the mission you are setting out to accomplish and the skill and talent level of your team. Try approaching it much like a mission or vision statement with the goal of creating a specific and descriptive statement that provides a strategic foundation for the rest of your leadership philosophy and style.
Share in the comments other aspects of your leadership role.
Main Photo Credit: By Teak Sato (http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=147870) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons