Leadership — 30 April 2012
Farid’s Secrets for Managing a Team of Experts

If you’ve done some reading about Leadership, then I am sure you must have come across all the discussion about Management v\s Leadership and what it’s all about.

There are many managers who could be great Leaders, but always rely on management tactics when it comes to day-to-day running of a team. Most common reason given is that it is not easy leading such a *team*.

My personal belief is, yes it is difficult but not impossible. With bit of extra effort, it is possible to *lead* a team – than *manage* it.

Here is my list of 9 mantras for Leading a team:

  1. Share the Vision. This has become a bit of a cliché but it still is true. I have seen managers coming up with great ideas, but just because it wasn’t shared early enough with the team, they don’t buy into it. Let them own the idea and see the difference.
  2. Call on favors sparingly. But be available all the time. There are times when you need your team member to put in that extra hours. Don’t make that a habit – call on them once in a while when really necessary, protect them from unwanted overtime. But be available to them when they need you. Put in those extra hours yourself once in a while as well.
  3. Lead with example. Set high ethical-standards for your work and see them reciprocate.
  4. Empower them. Once the vision or any task for that matter is set and agreed on, empower them. Let them find their own way around, give them freedom to talk to other managers, senior managers, colleagues, etc. The more insecure you feel, more insecure your post will actually get. Step back and guide them.
  5. Treat them with respect. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Understand them, adapt to them and respect them for what they are. Give them tasks that they enjoy; the ones they are good at. It is good to have a team with various skill sets and of different level.
  6. Give answers. A very simple statement, but yes I have seen many a times, a team member comes to you with a question and returns to his desk with more questions in his head and the original one is still unanswered. Give a bloody answer. More of ten than not they sincerely have a question for you and are not acting cheeky (i.e. testing your knowledge). If you don’t know the answer, accept it. Work with them, involve them in the process and find the solution. Don’t ignore them.
  7. Get hands-on. This is mainly true with managers like me in technology area. There is nothing wrong in being less knowledgeable than your junior, what is not good is ignoring that and not doing anything about it. Get hands-on and try to understand what they are doing and how it works.
  8. Ask for new ideas – and you’ll be surprised. Create a culture of continuous improvement. Motivate them to recommend new ways to improve their productivity at work. This could be tweaking the strict process your team has to follow or something like team building activities. Ask for ideas and of course carry out the practical ones.
  9. Create a secure work environment. Everyone is an expert in their own right. Give them their space and opportunity to display their strengths. That does not mean you restrict them and not let them explore new challenges, but everyone once in a while likes to be in their comfort zone.
That’s my secret of managing Leading a Team of Experts. What’s yours? Feel free to share you thoughts and ideas below in comments.

 

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