The 6 things that every new team leader must learn

Managing people is a job unlike any other. You may have been wonderful as a specialist, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be good at managing a team of specialists. Or maybe you are an amazing entrepreneur, that doesn’t make you an amazing people manager once you start building your team.

The purpose of a manager is to optimize the performance of his or her team. The most effective way to do this is by taking ownership of the end-to-end process and being a coach to each individual team member. Unfortunately, nobody is born as an inspirational leader, as a truly influential executive. It takes the learning of 6 simple yet powerful practices.

At a very young age I learned that managers are typically not people’s favorite person. At an average family birthday, ask 10 people if they like their work and chances are half of them will complain about their manager. Managers account for 68% of the employee’s experience at work. Being a manager, you have the power to make somebody’s life fantastic or miserable… If you don’t make a serious effort to live by these 6 practices, chances are it will be the latter.

1. Invest your time consciously

There’s always more work, and not enough time to do it all. Most managers in today’s world end up doing consistent overtime, running from meeting to meeting, not being in control of how they spend their days. They are in a constant state of stress (even though most don’t realize it) and often spread confusion rather than create clarity. If you want to manage others, you must first be able to manage yourself. That means to have a systematized approach to managing your time and your information, so that you become hyper-focused and don’t waste a single minute.

2. Be purpose-driven

Great team leaders think in terms of “why” before they ask themselves “how”. They ask themselves “Which results are expected of me?” rather than on the tasks, tools and techniques alone.

Think about how much time is lost in meetings that aren’t purpose-driven. Many people come to meetings unprepared and end up wasting their own time and the time of others. If you don’t know your purpose for being in the meeting, how the meeting relates to your goals, and your strategy for getting out of it what you want… you may as well not go at all. In school it was enough to just show up and get your name on the list, but in business your purpose is to actually get stuff done.

3. Think positively

The power of positive thinking can hardly be overestimated. The arrogant team leader would easily dismiss this as “soft” or “unrealistic”, not understanding the wealth of information he is missing. Positive thinking means to focus on people’s strengths, not their weaknesses. To see opportunity in every situation. Great team leaders understand what they’re great at and use those strengths to build an outstanding team.

4. Focus on a set of critical goals

Great managers concentrate on a few major areas where there is a lot to be gained with relatively little effort. They force themselves to define priorities and stick with them. First things first. It’s the only way to get things done.

5. Make strategic decisions

As a manager of people, you are the captain of your ship and your crew is looking at you (yes, you!) for clarity. Great leaders and great decision-makers. They decide fast and do not easily change a decision. They think several steps ahead and make sure that today’s decisions create a strong foundation for tomorrow’s initiatives.

6. Connect with others on a deeper level

Being a people manager is about getting things done through others. Often, managers seem to think of their team members as advanced tools (with the disadvantage that they talk and have feelings). You can only buy people’s hands, not their hearts. For this reason, only the team leader who connects, educates and inspires will achieve outstanding results. Understand your people’s personal lives, their beliefs, their values, their hopes, their fears, their dreams… then help them get more of what they want.

Imagine two managers… both have technical skills, both were great employees and both were promoted to lead their own team. One of them invests money, time and energy into learning these 6 skills. The other is “too busy” and chooses to “just go with it and learn as he goes”.
Which one would you like to be your manager? One year later, which one would you hire for your new project?

These 6 skills are no rocket science. They’re only a matter of using your mind in a smart way, being creative, asking the right question at the right moment, learning to think differently. Our training programs have transformed people of many different backgrounds into Influential Executives.

Then why is the business world struggling to have engaged employees and well-performing managers? Because the focus is on the short term. Virtually every company operates in a sea of stress (often without realizing it). Many professionals live in the illusion that “it’s very busy right now, but in a few months the busy period will be over and there will be time to recover.” I too was that person until I realized: that time never comes.

If you really want to grow your business, inspire your people and create sustainable long-term success, there’s a strategic decision that you need to make: to make learning a priority in your company.

To help you get started, we made our digital book available for free to all business owners, directors and managers out there. “How to Grow Your Business Without Everything Relying On You” Click here to get your free copy

From Amsterdam with Love,
Alexander Keehnen

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