When You're Unhappy at Work...
How To Be A Leader
Regardless of the level you're at
I have a client who was struggling with performing his role optimally at work. His motivation was waning and he was seeing his performance become subpar. Through discussion, my client, who I'll call David, explained that he was disheartened by his manager's behavior. He said that although brilliant, as well as kind, he was not a good leader and was a poor communicator. David had the belief that the person in this position should serve as a model for the team, with skills exceeding theirs.
David said that the team members were not clear on their roles, and that meetings were often rambling, long and ineffectual and that the meetings lacked structure and the purpose for the meetings was often unclear.
In my experience working with clients and teams, it seems more the exception than the rule that a manager or supervisor is gifted in multiple ways. A manager who is brilliant, kind, AND a good leader AND a good communicator? It's reminiscent of my grad school days when my department placed an exceptional researcher into the role of administrator. Disaster.
As David felt his standards plummet, he was feeling more and more ill at ease. In an exercise, I asked him to look back to the beginning of his career to remind himself how he was thinking and feeling when he was just starting out in his career. How did he see himself? What did his professional demeanor look like?
Over time, and with life getting complicated, we can lose sight of the goals and aspirations we have for ourselves and who we want to be. Our perspective can become even blurrier when we work in diverse settings, all of which have problems, complexities and stressors. I've seen this happen with many, many of my clients. We can lose our way a bit, unless we stop, take stock, and take action.
What actions could David take to change the situation and the way he was feeling? Well, not to sound platitudinous, but we decided "Be the change you want to see" was the wisest and smartest approach. David ran the bi-weekly (twice a week) meeting every two weeks. A perfect place to start! We decided he would send an agenda with meeting points ahead of the meeting. Not only that; he would delineate which participants would provide information, insight or opinions on various matters. This was important in helping the individual team members remember what their responsibilities were, and served as a reminder to the whole team as to what each team member's role entailed.
The feedback from his teammates, especially the higher-levels, was resoundingly positive. Not only did the meeting finish faster than the allotted time, it accomplished everything that was set out on the agenda. Ultimately, the most important thing it did was to start to set a new precedent for how meetings could be run, and keep standards high.
You don't have to be a top executive to exhibit leadership skills. By staying true, or returning to, his high standards, David became a more powerful presence and a potential key player in shifting the culture. If he maintains this level of performance, others will very likely rise to the occasion, and their expectations of themselves increase. This, in turn, will probably impact the team's morale and motivation to perform well. His manager most likely benefited, as well. We teach each other what we ourselves may lack. We learn from each other; if we're paying attention.
Does doing the extra work take extra time? Of course. But it's worth it. Keeping your perspective, staying true to your standards... can be challenging in a group environment. In the long run, it's the people who do that who will rise up within the organization. "Leaders" can be found at every level within a company. They're usually the ones who are promoted or move on to even better opportunities.
If you feel like you're ready to up your professional game, Get in touch. I'll help you break down exactly what you can do to play your professional role expertly and perhaps even exceed your expectations.
Side note: David and I also worked on body language, mindset, and voice training.