Managers must create an environment where employees are aware of organizational objectives and the specific role they fulfill in achieving them. Leading means establishing direction for employees and initiating the day-to-day work that is necessary to effectively accomplish the company’s overall objectives.
The effort it takes to lead others depends upon a number of factors: the leader’s level of authority, the number of employees reporting to him or her, the experience level of the direct reports (and the leader), and other technical or hands-on responsibilities the leader must fulfill.
To be a successful leader, you must be able to motivate your employees and delegate responsibility appropriately. Employees must be provided with the information and resources they need to accomplish the work—and when work is not completed successfully, leaders must also be ready to engage in courageous conversations.
Before asking people to complete new tasks, a manager should observe employee behavior closely and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each person on the team. Being familiar with each employee’s talents, skills, and abilities will help guide the delegation process. Leaders should also know and consider the career goals and interests of employees when delegating responsibilities.
The guidance provided by the leader should include detailed instructions and all the information needed to successfully accomplish the task. Leaders must identify, utilize, and coordinate the talents and skills of each employee effectively. When delegating assignments, be sure to provide the following information:
- What: Outline the task and clarify the desired result or outcome.
- Who: Make assignments either to individuals or to a team. Specify who will work on which aspect of the task or plan.
- When: Set time frames and deadlines for completing the task. Be sure to set specific dates and times to follow up on the task’s progress and its completion.
- Why: Explain the reasons behind the assigned task and how it fits into organizational plans and objectives.
- How: Be flexible and adjust your natural management style to appropriately address the situation. Assess the experience level of the employee and decide how detailed your instructions need to be and how much control you need to retain over the project.
Leaders should also identify which tasks could be developmental assignments for their employees. For the organization to evolve, employees need to develop skills beyond their current level. Developmental assignments enable employees to gain knowledge, background, and experience by completing new tasks. Employees must be given the freedom to learn and make mistakes while performing the task for the first time.
Provide employees with general guidelines on what needs to be accomplished, establish mutual trust and understanding, and allow employees to complete the work up to your standards but in their own way. This affords employees the freedom to decide on the specifics of how to accomplish the task. It also lets them experiment and work towards new goals without fear of failure.
Managers must empower employees and give them the freedom to make decisions within certain limits. Allowing them to exercise their independence supports creativity, communication, collaboration, and higher productivity. It also allows employees to make decisions and learn from their mistakes.
To learn more about the principles of effective leadership and how to motivate and empower your team to contribute more to the organization, contact CMOE.