More important now than ever
These have been difficult times for media. Almost everyone — at least those still working in the business — has been forced to wear more than one hat on the job. Most are over-worked, justifiably insecure and anxious about the future, and so ready for a leader who can inspire.
True leadership is more important now than ever, so consider these 5 steps to building a happier, more productive and creative team in your building:
1. Develop your active listening skills. That requires you to actually focus on what others are saying, to give it your 100% concentration, and then reflect back what you have just heard, and check to make sure it’s accurate.
Being heard is so empowering. A former mentor once told me that when I became a manager the most important thing I could do is listen to my team members, make them feel heard, and understand that 90% of their complaints and frustrations do not need to be — in fact, cannot be — solved. They just need to be acknowledged.
2. Think the best of your team. Assume they are working hard and want success. So many media companies these days appear to be led by suspicious, greedy jerks. They count your computer keystrokes, they prohibit personal calls even in emergencies, they watch the clock to make sure you’re not “cheating” them out of a full day’s work. That kind of leadership inspires only one thing among the best employees: the hope of finding another place to work. Always give your team the benefit of the doubt when it comes to effort. The best relationships start with trust.
3. Express gratitude. How difficult is it to acknowledge effort and then express sincere gratitude to each team member? Gratitude shows that you notice their personal contributions, and that you value it. Be genuine, be sincere, and be grateful.
4. Acknowledge sacrifice. There’s a reason it’s called “work.” Few of us would do it for free, but so many of us give so much more than the job description would require. This ties together with gratitude, but when your team is under the gun, facing a deadline, feeling overwhelmed, pitch in and help. Nothing inspires loyalty like shared sacrifice.
5. Make it clear that each individual’s contribution to the team’s success is unique and necessary. Let them feel part of a bigger purpose, of a greater achievement. We all want our work to have significance. We all want to be a part of something larger than one person’s accumulation of additional wealth. Leaders control this by not ony recognizing each individual contribution, but by sharing the fruits of success.
Even in today’s economic climate, you can make each one of these traits part of your leadership package, and when you do, you’ll have people beating down the doors to work with you.
“The really great man is the man who makes everyone feel great.“
– G.K. Chesterton