There are so many research papers, articles, books and courses about how to be a great leader in the work place. But all these articles and books focus on the leader, not the people being led. In my experience, while a leader in the workplace is of great value, being a great leader or having great leadership skills isn’t enough to influence change.
Being a leader extends beyond understanding how to motivate and influence employees to work effectively and efficiently. The truth is, not all employees can, or will, follow your leadership. This means being a leader that delivers results also requires you to choose and build your team carefully. It’s foolish to think that you can take a leadership course and be able to lead and influence everyone. As managers and leaders, we need to choose team members that have the skills and potential to become part of a great team, who under strong leadership, can deliver outstanding results.
When I took my first management role, I had the opportunity to build my own team. After interviewing, selecting, training and dismissing a number of team members, I was able to form one of the most successful marketing teams in my division. We innovated, grew and achieved amazing results which was recognised across the company. Since this was my first experience, I thought leadership was easy. That opinion changed when I inherited a team.
Change always seems to be challenging for people and in particular employees. Trying to lead a demotivated or resistant team can feel impossible. Courses and books tell you how to be a great leader, and you can definitely put those learnings into practice, however I recommend you review one thing first. Cost and benefit.
When I took over an established business, I spent the first year trying to re-build morale. But I learned that negative past experiences, coupled with change, create resistant employees who have no interest in helping to achieve business goals. The demotivated and negative employees breed distrust in management for new employees. Therefore, before spending your efforts in winning the trust of your employees, you need to evaluate the cost benefit of the situation. If it takes 6 months to build trust among your staff in the business and only one business challenge to re-build their resentment or concern, then you need to decide if it is best to build a new team, or keep working on trying to lead an old team.
Leadership is possible in all scenarios. Even if a team is demotivated and lacking trust, you can spend time focusing on being a great leader to turn those employees around. However in business, especially small businesses, money is limited. Demotivated employees who have no interest in the business objectives is costly to the business. As a leader you have to lead business decisions as well as people. Being a great leader is more then making decisions for the business, planning work and inspiring employees to achieve great success. It’s also knowing how to build a great team, when to trim the fat.