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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Leadership How-Tos

I recently finished teaching two sessions of a two-day leadership training class.   As always, I asked for feedback at the end of the course to find out what would make the instruction and content better.   In one class,  many participants noted the need for more "how-tos", meaning they wanted more ways to apply what they had learned on the job.

I thought a list of how-tos might be helpful to share not only with them, but those of you who read this blog.  While this blog is always an effort to provide leadership how-tos, I'll have several installments of "how-tos" over the next few weeks related to topics from this particular course.

The purpose of any training, and the way to measure if it was effective, is to see if behaviors change on the job.  Here are some behavioral-based "how-tos" based on the topics of this particular course.

Leaders' roles of planning, organizing, directing, and monitoring: 

Planning how-to:  "Reverse-engineer". One of the class participants came up with this phrase and I love it!    It really emphasizes that you can't plan without knowing where you want to be; you have to know your end or desired state to plan for it.

Sit down with your team and have a planning session.  If you can do it off-site away from distractions, that is great.    Review the company mission and vision and any other strategic planning information.  Then "reverse engineer" your way into plans that meet those strategic objectives that your team is responsible for doing. This can be done on a smaller scale, say for example sitting down each week to plan for how your team is going to meet the production goal for the week.  Put the plan in writing and in a place where everyone can refer to it.

Organizing how-to:  Get some type of organizing mechanism (planner, computer based calendar tool and/or task list, white board in your office, etc.) and use it consistently to record work schedules of all of your team, meetings, dates goals needs to be reached, etc.  Use one tool, not ten and make it public.  Find a mechanism where everyone can assess this information.  I like google calendar as well as google's other tools for sharing documents and information.

 Kill two birds with one stone! Direct and Monitor with one how-to!  Schedule a time to manage by walking around.  You monitor more effectively if you do it regularly, but not at the same time each week.  People will come to know the boss walks around and monitors every Tuesday at 2:00 pm and they will definitely be working hard if you know that's when you are making rounds!

Walk your work area speaking to team members, talking about what they are working on, how things are going and asking if they need help with anything.  You may only have to observe what they are doing; it depends on the type of environment you work in. This will help you monitor what they are doing, and direct them if help is needed.

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