It has been close to 10 years since Weekdone started providing teams like yours with world leading OKR software. With Weekdone being free for small teams and offering a two week free trial for everyone, we really try to make employee reporting easy for our clients. You’re always welcome to try it for free here.
The quality of leadership affects every level of any organization. It does not matter if you’re running a corporation or a 2-man freelance business. Everybody, at one time or another, has felt the impact of bad team leadership: demotivated employees, confusion about roles and responsibilities, and plummeting sales. A good leader can cause quite the opposite, but what exactly makes a good leader?
The duties and responsibilities of a leader consist of 2 major categories: leadership and management. Managerial skills are those ones that might annoy everybody else, but keep things in tight order like following company processes, reporting meetings, making sure everybody knows the KPI’s. But make no mistake, while leadership skills are essential and important, managerial skills are just as important. Identifying what responsibilities you have as a leader and manager is critical. Here is my take on the 5 most crucial leadership responsibilities for any team leader.
1. Provide a clear vision
Visionary leaders tend to have a compelling view of their product and the market. Usually, they can see beyond the ambiguity and challenges of today to an empowering picture of tomorrow. Fueled by inspiration, they create a sense of hope for the future. A better way that is just around the corner. They feel the urge to succeed in their bones and want that the employees share that feeling with them. This feeling cannot be required nor forced, it’s solely gained by influence. One of the leadership responsibilities is to hold the end picture in mind as a discipline, but it takes commitment each day. So here are 5 simple actions that you can take daily to provide a clear vision for your employees.
Communicate the end result in a clear & understandable way.
You might see it, but your employees want reassurance that it truly is the destination that you all are going towards. So make sure you paint a clear picture of the end result and say it out loud a few times every quarter.
There’s nothing worse than a leader that goes where the wind takes them. Make sure you have a strict process in place. Use Objectives & Key Results (OKR) to implement strategy into an everyday routine.
Take calculated risks. Innovation cannot take place without taking risks. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, then it sends out a clear message to everybody – we are here to win, not just to participate.
Make sure you look at the class half full. People can feel stress and sometimes body language tells us more than words themselves. Problems will arise, what matters, is your take on the problem. It will affect every team member, so, keep it optimistic.
Emotional intelligence is just as important in business, as in relationships. So before you pick an argument with your co-worker, take a deep breath and try to keep your emotions out of any discussion.
Overall, the important thing is to make sure you know exactly what you’re pursuing. Visualize and communicate it clearly. Don’t lose your head.
2. Encourage creativity and consistent improvement
Creativity is not just something we’re born with. It takes time & effort to master, and it is important to start practicing it. Comfort zones are big red zones for businesses. It’s the leadership responsibility to push people out of the comfort zone if it might occur. Whenever your employees feel safe and comfortable you’ll have to work twice as hard to make progress. Every leader knows how important teamwork is in the workplace, but creativity is just as important. Here are 5 things you can do, to increase creativity in the workplace.
Encourage co-working via sprints (workshops)
Creativity inspires employees to work with each other. All new ideas have risk involved, so it’s only natural to seek out a colleague for feedback. Creative processes require collaboration and bouncing around ideas between people and teams. Make sure you give your team enough freedom to generate creative ways to address work.
Make sure problem-solving is rewarded
When the same people solve the same problems day after day, they get good at it. That creates a problem. They have a narrow approach to the problem. Mix it up from time to time. Give teams problems that are not their expertise.
“I always choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” B.Gates
Generate impossible tasks
George Dantzig is known as the father of linear programming. Did you know that the movie The Good Will Hunting has a real basis? George was late for class and for that mistake, he thought impossible math tests were a part of the homework. So, unknowingly he solved an impossible problem. The moral of the story is that there are multiple ways to look at problems. A problem that the marketing team has been stuck with for over a quarter might be a quick fix for the IT-department and vice versa. If you have talent at the company, don’t limit their efforts to just the one department.
Never say NO to a bad idea
Having a bad idea is not a way of doing a bad job. It’s actually the first step of looking out of the box. Don’t get me wrong. Incompetent and lazy employees that don’t know what they’re talking about is one thing, but a competent worker who rephrases a problem differently, might not be a bad idea. Make sure to hold brainstorming sessions that take the concept of a “bad idea” out of the equation.
Diversify your team
Frans Johansson in his book “The Medici Effect” suggests that diverse teams are more likely to generate innovative ideas thanks to different backgrounds and different ways to approach a problem.
Creativity is one of the building blocks of constant improvement in the company. We all want to create something unique and build something that matters. It takes time and effort, like everything else, to foster creativity into the workplace, so be patient.
3. Inspire by setting an example
Do the work! But keep in mind that leaders don’t have to know about every specialty that they have hired. Rather, they have to be the ones that provide guidance. There actually is a fine line between too little contact, and micromanaging – everything in between is the sweet spot. A lot of it comes down to leading by example. Here are five leadership responsibilities on how to lead by example.
Do the work
It’s mentioned at the begging of this section as well; that’s how important it is. The effort will not go unnoticed. As the old proverb states – you reap what you sow. People always look up to the hardest worker in the room, it does not matter whether you’re on the junior position or a veteran in the firm. Hard work does not fly under the radar. Everybody knows that leaders have many responsibilities, but at the same time, it’s important to work alongside your team. People are social animals, make sure you treat your team such.
It’s easy to pass blame along, we all know that. It’s a leader’s job to end the cycle and take responsibility. So, as hard as it might seem, the higher in the command chain you are, the more open to taking responsibility for mistakes you have to be,
Watch what you say
While actions speak louder than words, words have a direct impact on morale. You have the power to choose, whether it’s for the better or for the worse. Highlight success and effort, but make sure that everybody gets a piece of the pie when it’s time to praise. Keep the negative behind closed doors. And like the saying goes: if you don’t have anything nice to say, think about not saying anything at all.
Get your hands dirty
Everybody working under you are grinding for your vision and purpose, day in and day out. Treat them as such. If they have problems with other teams or management, stick your neck out for them. It will have an impact on the morale of the whole team. It shows that you care.
Take care of yourself
It goes without saying, that wellbeing is something that every person should strive for, but for leaders, it’s as important, if not more. More energy equals more effort. And we tend to forget that impressions matter; so keep your fitness and mental health as a priority being why it is so important for you to use supplements such as Altai Balance. Greens powders are dietary supplements that you can mix into water and other liquids. Greens powder are generally low in calories but high in certain minerals and vitamins, including selenium, iodine, chromium and vitamins A, C and K, as well as plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions.
4. Follow the company processes by the book
In the fast-paced world, one of the most important business decisions every leader has to face is: what business processes will the company use. We all want measure what matters. And the easiest way of doing that is to use the Objectives & Key Result methodology. It’s the leadership responsibility that every level of your organization is aligned with the long term strategy. Here is the 5-step process we use in Weekdone.
Set Strategic Priorities
Have your long term strategy or vision written out. Hopefully looking 2-5 years into the future. It’s also important to acknowledge trends in the market & find a way to strategically go after them.
Figure out what kind of macro processes you have in place, and what new ones you want to set-up, in order to manage the communication between divisions and people.
Set OKRs & Key Results
Nowadays, it seems like everyone has their own opinion on how to set OKRs correctly. I would recommend this Free Ebook to get you started. If you’re just looking for a quick fix – have a look at these OKR Examples.
Share Roles & Team Key Results
While writing good Objectives is really important from the company perspective, they still need a good amount of work. Make sure that everybody’s Key Results get aligned with the Objectives & every person on the team knows what role they play in the long run.
One of the crucial parts of any business is data & the interpretation of it. So, to get everybody on the same page as soon as possible, you’ll have to agree on: reporting cycles, KPI’s & analyzing intervals.
Keep in mind that it’s a process. Meaning that in order it to work – a lot of effort and time will go into it; setting up OKRs is not going to fix the problem. Following the OKR & PPP methodology, by the book, week after week, just might. And don’t push the ball into someone else’s court – it’s solely a leadership responsibility to follow these processes by the book.
5. Supervise team reporting & KPIs
Based on Louise Story’s article “Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad” we know that on average we see around 5000 ads a day. And that statistic is from 2007, we all know what has happened to the internet since then. So every step we take, every move we make, an ad will always be following us. Because of that, we don’t trust the data we see. We have developed banner blindness, we’re allergic to empty promises and overwhelmed with information. So what’s the most important leadership responsibility for you as a team leader to do regarding reporting data? Making damn sure everybody knows what’s important & what to keep an eye on. Here are 5 simple ways to keep your team on track.
Choose a Northstar metric
A Northstar metric is like gravity. You can live without knowing how it works, but it impacts every part of your business; day in, day out. It’s important to figure it out & make sure that every living soul in the company understands it.
Figure out sales metrics – MQLs/PQLs
Who are the clients that bring in the money? What do they have in common? What do they do before and after purchase? Do you have quantitative data to back off the answers we just gave? If yes, you’re set. If no, then figure out a way to answer those questions and find data to prove it.
Use OKR as a quarterly goal setting practices
Start by defining 3-5 Objectives on company, team, or personal levels. Objectives should be ambitious, qualitative, time-bound, and actionable by the person or team. Under each Objective, define 3-5 measurable Key Results. Key results should be quantifiable, achievable, lead to objective grading, and be difficult, but not impossible. OKR results can be based on growth, performance, or engagement. Often they are numerical, but they can also show if something is done or undone using a binary 0 or 1. Use Weekdone as your OKR management software.
Use PPP for weekly planning
Progress, Plans, Problems (PPP) is a best practice management technique for recurring (usually weekly) team progress and status reporting. Each person reports usually 3-7 achievements, goals, and challenges each week. At the end of the weekly cycle, the compiled weekly report is then shared with leaders, team managers, and co-workers.
Make reports visual
It’s important to make your goals visual for everybody. Having a visual dashboard increases the feeling of teamwork and keeps everybody on track with what’s happening throughout the company. Without it, there can be a feeling of isolation between teams. So make sure you know what’s important for your business to measure (and please look a bit further than next months revenue gains) & make it visual.
The duties and responsibilities of a team leader may vary from time-to-time, but the core area of responsibility remains the same. The term visionary is thrown around the block too easily in my opinion. It’s one thing to know what business you’re in and steer your company in the right place with good managerial skills. It’s completely different to be a visionary and create something completely new in the market. So have a vision, back it up with excellent management skills, stay inspired, and know your stats.
And if worst comes to worst, Weekdone will at least fix your company processes.