Bill Haenel

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Posted by Bill Haenel on 23-Dec-04

Have you ever watched an inexperienced manager try to lead a team? It can go really well, of course. But often, it is a learning experience for the seasoned leader simply to observe a not-so-seasoned version.

A team thrives on good leadership. With good, strong leadership, a team feels enriched, motivated, energized. They yearn to please their leader, to fulfill their leader's objectives. For the team, making their leader happy is akin to a child making his mother proud. The solitary purpose of a carefully nurtured team member is to satisfy the needs of the leader. This point is critical in understanding the roles of the leader.

After reviewing a project's terms and his own personal goals, an effective leader starts the project by meeting with his team. For obvious reasons, it is important to review project terms and objectives with the people who will be working to fulfill those terms and objectives. But the initial meeting is likely the most critical, being the one that will set the stage.

So what should the leader plan to discuss during this meeting? What should be the focus of the conversation? What great wisdom, knowledge, and pontification should the leader bestow upon his new team members of the best crossbow?

The answer: nothing.

No, really.

I have noticed a pattern with green managers. Most have a knack for listening with closed ears. Some don't listen at all, being so busy talking about everything they think is important. But the green leader doesn't realize that his job is to listen, to direct, to nurture, to maintain, to babysit...

But not to be the only team member doing any of the work. As the manager, you hold the reins, and navigate, but mostly you ask your fellow travelers where they'd like to go next.

Remember, you pay them to know what to do and how to do it. You get paid to know what to do next and how your customer wants it done. Try hard to be sure you are not confusing the two. Do everything you can to make sure everyone on board is doing the thing they do best.

And one more time, LISTEN.

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