Regardless of their title, everyone in a team can demonstrate leadership. The more people who show it, the less it matters whose title is what. But ultimately there will be a manager who is accountable for the performance of the team, and the way that person goes about their work is a critical element of success or failure. Brock Fisher explains.
Like most people, the way I lead today is shaped by the positive and negative experiences I have had throughout my working years. Identifying and applying ‘the good bits’ while dodging the elements that drove me crazy seemed a pretty good place to start.
So when I was asked recently if I could offer any thoughts on leading a successful team, I replied without hesitation, ‘Keep it light, keep it fun and always be the calmest person in the room’.
KEEP IT LIGHT
I am a firm believer that respect is earned in all roles and should never be expected or assumed because of title. I also believe you can have respect without hierarchy, and professionalism without formality. In teams I lead, no one is more important or less important than anyone else, because the part everyone plays in achieving a collective goal is equally important.
The added benefit of a ‘flat’ approach versus a hierarchical approach is mutual accountability, and I expect all members of my team to hold me to account for my performance, just as I hold them to account for theirs.
Personally, I also prefer a more conversational approach with my team and with my clients. It’s worth noting this is never to the detriment of professionalism, but the verbal or written communication doesn’t need to be delivered with all the seriousness and heavy tone of a High Court judgement.
Verbal or written communication doesn’t need to be delivered with all the seriousness and heavy tone of a high court judgement.
KEEP IT FUN
If you aren’t having fun doing it, then really what is the point? People generally spend at least half their waking hours at work, and it’s just so important that time is enjoyable and fun!
The property management role is heavily laden with conflict resolution and emotionally charged clients, which can be quite draining. Negativity has a very real snowballing effect on individuals and the general team vibe and, if left unchecked, before you know it you can have a death spiral of darkness on your hands.
But luckily, positivity works in that very same way! Fun is contagious and really makes the difference between loving what you do and just turning up to a workplace for a pay cheque. Having a good clown around with the team is a great stress reliever for all and is the antidote to a toxic client experience.
Everyone around you absorbs your mood by osmosis, and as the leader you set the tone. So if you aren’t having fun, no one will be!
ALWAYS BE THE CALMEST PERSON IN THE ROOM
Have you ever noticed that it is practically impossible to remain angry with a calm person? Have you also noticed that it is so much easier to tell someone some bad news if you are confident they aren’t going to completely freak out about it, or chastise you about what you have to tell them? Always be that calm person!
Whether you are dealing with an agitated client and diffusing the situation, or someone in your team has messed something up and needs to tell you about it, the single greatest strategy is to remain calm.
Promoting an open and honest team environment, where your team can tell you anything and know you won’t erupt like a volcano, is vital to the overall success and results of the team. The only way you become that approachable person is if they feel absolutely comfortable with how you will react, even when they think something they have done is the absolute worst. People feel bad enough if something has gone wrong without the added feeling of that compounding when they tell you about it.
I’ve often heard department managers comment that by the time a problem gets to them it is too far gone, and they wished they had got to it earlier. If that is the case, have a think about how approachable you really are to your team. Is it possible they might actually fear coming to you, and therefore try to deal with things themselves without guidance?
As a final point, when running a team ‘management by walking around’ is my favoured style, because it gives a constant supply of opportunities to apply all three of the above leadership principles.
Get out of your office and get among your team; experience what they are experiencing right there at the coal face in real time. Coach and guide them through it. Catch them doing something right so you can praise them for the fine work they are doing.
These key points have always worked for me when leading teams. The ideas themselves are simple, but when executed well they are extraordinarily powerful.