As a leader, you’ve lived through it before — the final push at the end of the quarter or year. It’s all hands on deck to make the numbers in what seems like a wild frenzy to meet customer needs and financial commitments. And don’t forget, the regular work doesn’t stop during this time; you still have to keep up with it.
Your company’s success depends on every employee being “in the game.” How you approach this final push with your employees will greatly influence your chances of success, not only now, but also long term. It’s your chance to step up as a leader. Others will measure you not only by meeting goals but also by how you get there.
10 Critical Leadership Practices
Following are 10 ideas you can put into practice to help your employees be stars during any high-pressure period. These strategies represent some of the best practices from the world-class companies I work with and from my personal leadership experience.
- Be clear on your priorities and expectations. There are usually a number of priorities competing for your team’s time and attention, especially at closing. Don’t assume they know what your most important priorities are. Clearly communicate them, including why they are most important at this time, and set expectations around deadlines and deliverables.
As you move up into leadership roles, more is demanded of you. There’s so much flying at you each day. And, the demands on you are different than they were as an individual contributor. In the leadership development training I facilitate, I hear rising leaders talk about the challenges of balancing these demands.
Once these leaders realize that some of the things commanding their attention everyday are not the most important priorities, they are much more in control. As a leader, your focus must be more on enabling success for your team, and less on handling the day-to-day operational activities.
Following are a few of the most common misperceptions I hear among these leaders and how they work through them. These misperceptions also may be holding you back from being successful in your role, and from delivering the top-notch results expected if you want to stand out.
- It’s faster and easier to just do it myself
- You either don’t feel comfortable asking your team members to take on additional assignments, or you don’t trust them to do the job as good as you. Get an understanding of what your team is working on, and make sure their focus is on the most important priorities. Get rid of things they don’t need to be doing, which will create more capacity. To build trust, start with delegating assignments that are not as critical or high visibility. Work on setting clear expectations on outcomes, and track progress. But, don’t micromanage how the work gets done. Check out my blog post on delegating for more on these strategies.
- I have to attend all these meetings
- Going to meetings can make you feel important. These leaders realized that they were attending meetings with several of their team members. If you’re doing the same, you’re wasting valuable time. All of you usually aren’t needed in the same meetings. Even if you’re all invited, you don’t all have to attend. Align meeting attendance with who has the responsibility for that area. Be selective at attending when you’re needed for a decision, when critical information is discussed, or where your management level is required.
- I set the direction for my team
- Setting a vision for your team is important to get everyone moving in the same direction. The problem is, even though it’s connected to the business priorities, you’ve set the vision for the team. You haven’t involved your team in defining it. If you want them to own the vision, make them part of the development process. Then, have them take ownership of the strategies that will make the vision a reality. Get your team involved using these 5 Traits of Great Teams.
- My title gives me instant credibility
- Rarely can you get things done on your own. It takes a network of people who can be a resource inside and outside of your team, as well as inside and outside of the organization. Building this type of network takes time. You have to work on developing relationships with others over time. You can’t just call in favors when you haven’t invested anything first. Get into this habit, and they’ll run when they see you coming. Build relationships not just on what you can get, but based on how you can be a resource to others. With this purpose, others will gladly help when you need them in the future. Go deeper on how to develop relationships and Become An Influencer.
Being busy makes you feel important. But being busy on the wrong priorities will make you ineffective. Reflect on the activities that comprise your day. Are you focused on the priorities that matter most? Are you fully engaging your team? Are you constantly working on relationships? If the answers are “no, not enough”, then you need to reset. You’re preventing yourself from achieving your full leadership potential.