Leadership. Are we over complicating it?

Type into a search engine ‘How to be a good Leader’ and it throws back nearly 2 million results; there are hundreds of thousands of self-confessed ‘experts’ in the field of leadership giving their ‘top tips’ and ‘key factors’.

Is there a danger that we are over complicating it?

What does it take to become that ‘great leader’? To be ‘the best boss the employees have ever had’? To be honest, I don’t think there is one answer.

A senior manager recently started a new job in charge of a team of highly motivated individuals and found the notion quite daunting. Would he be any good? Would he be liked? What style of management would he adopt? However, against all advice online, he thought he would not overthink it and just be himself.

The irony of this article is, like many others, it will share the top tips that he has shared. However, unlike other articles, the advice is not prescriptive but just some ideas that others, in a similar situation, may wish to adopt.

1. Just be nice, all of the time. Employees need to know where they stand with the boss. We have all worked for someone who brings their issues to work and everyone walks on eggshells as they charge around the workplace, this creates tension. Its nice to be nice, leave your own issues at the door and give them the same version of you every day.

2. Socialise away from work. This humanises you and allows you to really get to know your employees and for them to get to know the real you. The team cohesion you can create away from the workplace will have a direct benefit in the workplace. Priceless.

3. Have an open-door policy. This gives your employees the opportunity to come to you at anytime to discuss anything they like. It will go a long way, especially if they have some personal issues they would like to discuss.

4. Be empathetic. You are not a robot, we all have things going on in our lives. Showing empathy to an employee’s specific situation can mean so much to them.

5. Empower the team. Micro management does not develop anyone. Empower the team to make decisions, allow them to make mistakes. It is in this space that your employees will grow and feel valued.

6. Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’. You won't always know the answer, you can either go and find out or ask other members of your team. You will be respected more for your honesty rather than trying to talk your way around it. You will be found out.

7. Don’t demand solutions. Allow your employees to come with a problem, without a solution. Forcing them to have a solution may mean they don’t to you in the first place, causing further issues.

8. Encourage your employees to challenge you. You are not always right, you don’t always have the best ideas. Allowing your employees to challenge you means they feel like an equal and that they have a voice that can be heard.

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