I’ve always loved, leading, creating, organizing, and managing.
To some that seems silly, but it really is prevalent in my everyday life. From being a Stage Manager for theatre and earning my Girl Scout Gold Award for creating a theatre workshop for children to founding and running the Her Campus chapter at my University and even mentoring fellow college bloggers.. managing and leading is something that I do every day of my life.
No matter if its a crew of 10 people or a club of 70, there are some important qualities that I have learned that people need to acquire in order to become successful leaders.
1. Explain and Establish
Your team cannot read your mind. If you expect something from your team members you need to tell them, and explain it in great detail. I personally would rather have things over explained than under explained.
Be patient with them while they learn the way you want things.
Establish a protocol for the way things are done. For example, my Her Campus chapter publishes articles online and shares them on social media. We have a specific protocol established for what we put on our social media, when articles are published and when they are shared. All of this has been established and explained in great detail, by creating and publishing a handbook document, to my team members to make sure that everybody is on the same page.
A super simple way to create an established protocol like this and to explain it to your team is to write it down in a handbook of some sort.
2. Organization and Consistency
If you are managing a large amount of people, or if you mainly work remotely and not face to face in meetings, it may be in your best interest to create a form of online organization.
I am a huge fan of Google Drive and use it for everything. Create a resources folder that you share with your team and then keep all your important documents, handbooks, calendars, spreadsheets, and information in there. Make sure that at least one of those documents is a handbook explaining the protocol which you established in step 1, that way there is a record of it which all of your team members can reference if there are any questions.
Make sure you are consistent with your organization and your protocols. Reference your own handbooks if you need to, nobody likes a leader who changes their mind and is not consistent.
However, consistency goes farther than just creating rules.
If you send an update e-mail to your team when one big thing changes, make sure that you send an update e-mail every time something big changes or at the same time every week. If you link to your Google Drive resources folder one time when you mention it in a message.. link to it every time you mention it (no matter how often you ask people to bookmark the link, some people just wont do it and you have to work with that!)
Consistency is a real key part to being a trusted and respected leader.
3. Be firm yet patient
I still struggle with this, but it is something that I am actively working on: being firm. If you have a policy that requires some sort of disciplinary action for people who fail to do their tasks, follow through on that. This goes along with being consistent.
However, be patient with your team. They are human just like you are. Perhaps they missed a deadline because you did not explain it well enough to them, which may be a problem with your consistency or organization. Allow second chances, but make sure to set a limit to them so that you are not walked all over.
4. Be open and understanding
In order to have a team that respects and listens to you, your team needs to feel that they can come to you if they need anything.
Communicate with your team regularly and let them know that if they are having any problems meeting a deadline or questions or concerns about a policy that they can come to you and you will be understanding about it. Your team members are human, and things happen.
If they can’t make it to a meeting, they should know the best way to inform you. Some people have other jobs and you need to respect that not everybody has set hours ahead of time, things come up.
It is important that while your team knows to communicate with you, that they also know that you understand they are human. I love when my team members contact me when they find out that they can’t make a deadline or a meeting, because it opens communication and breaks down barriers. I also take the time to get coffee and hangout with my team members outside of meetings so they learn that I am human too!
Fun fact: One time I had a team member go into labor.. and I was one of the first people she texted so that I knew she would be missing her deadline that night.. that’s crazy! I love that she wanted to communicate with me, but since then I have made sure that my team members know that if they are in an emergency situation (or in the hospital for surgery.. I’ve gotten a lot of those e-mails as well) it’s not a big deal, their priority is their health, I can find out later it’s okay.
5. Be Honest
You’re human, and you make mistakes. Accept that and be honest about it. If you miss a deadline that then leads to somebody else missing a deadline, own up to it. Be honest.
To link back with my point on consistency, every day before my Her Campus team has a deadline I give them a reminder message. My team relies on these reminders. There have been a couple times when I have been too busy to give that reminder message or it has completely slipped my mind and I will give it too late in the day. On those days I own up to it, explain that it is my fault that I forgot to give that reminder, and then I will extend their deadline to make up for my error.
On that note; everyone needs days off. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk it out with your team. You may be surprised on who will step up. Take a day or two off to relax and recover every once in a while.
Your team should not be a one woman show. Rely on your members to hold you up and help you out.
Do you need to send an e-mail out reminding everybody about the meeting tonight? Delegate it, somebody else can do that. Even consider assigning that task to the same person every week to keep it consistent.
Arrange to create an Executive Board if you haven’t already. Even just having one right hand man definitely helps to take the stress off your shoulders.
The more involved and relied on your members are, the more connected they will feel to the team and the more they will enjoy their time with you.
7. Have fun and Promote fun
No matter what you lead, it should not be all work and no play. A happy team is a well working team.
Do some team bonding, cheesy ice breakers, group retreats, pizza parties, beach days.. anything to get your team together outside of the work room and enjoying each other’s company. You’d be surprised by the amount of creative juices that you can get flowing and the great ideas that will come out of a day off of work.
That day off might be exactly what your team needs to come back refreshed and passionate about your organization again.
What qualities do you feel that a good leader needs to have?