There is one simple method for effective people management and leadership. In fact, it’s so simple that it’s easy to overlook or dismiss. But to do so leaves you open to inefficiency, productivity shortfalls, and, if not addressed, a full communication breakdown between team members and leadership.
As Dr. Kent Ingle, President of Southeastern University (SEU), explains, the method is to remember that “leadership is not about you.”
Throughout his varied career, Dr. Ingle has learned many lessons about the best ways to motivate individuals, inculcate team spirit, and build a cohesive unit that works together towards common goals. His career propelled him from intern to quickly becoming the news team sports anchor for CBS and NBC networks. His path has also taken him to ministry, non-profit work, leading turnaround organizations, authoring The Modern Guide to College and hosting a high-performing podcast, Framework Leadership.
While working in the high-pressure field of network television, Dr. Ingle first saw the positive effect of leaders who recognized people as individuals and not just see them as cogs in a goal-orientated machine. He also noticed the negative impact that less experienced leaders, those with fewer soft skills honed over years of work, had on members of a team. In his current role, as a university president, he applies all he has learned to leading by example.
Avoid the Ego Trap
It is too easy to fall into an ego trap when you are first promoted or offered a position of authority. And in many ways, it’s understandable. You have been specially selected for your qualifications and achievements to take charge of your team. It’s enough to send anyone on an ego trip — but that’s a trap.
Once the ego trap has been sprung, you become the center of the story — your authority, your success, and your recognition for your hard work might become the only things that matter to you. Coworkers will stop seeing you as a team player and begin to view you as someone out only for themselves.
Dr. Ingle warns leaders to guide their teams with generosity. “Among the best things you can do are listen to people’s problems and support their personal and professional growth. If you do, you’ll find colleagues drawn to you for your personality and temperament,” he said.
To deepen your leadership skills and make you more successful than ever, here are Dr. Ingle’s five best pieces of advice.
Empathy is Key
Remember that each person under your supervision is an individual first and an employee second. Team members are not just human resources to be worked and worked until they give out.
They are diverse, well-rounded people with lives away from the office. They may have wives, husbands, and children to take care of as well as friends, hobbies, and charity work. By envisioning them this way, you will find, quite naturally, you treat them with empathy and understanding.
Always remember your team members’ wants and needs. Everyone has hopes and dreams in life. Remember that you did not reach your position just because of your achievements. Someone along the way helped you, possibly lots of people.
At some point, someone saw something in you and nurtured your skills. By encouraging your employees to develop themselves and championing their success, they, in turn, will see you as a valuable mentor and teacher.
Remind yourself to put the needs of your colleagues before your own. An extension of the previous point, this bit of advice will make you a popular, successful, and content leader.
“By thinking more altruistically and behaving accordingly, your reputation amongst your coworkers will shoot straight up. And, if people know you are not just looking out for number one, your opinions and insights will resonate further,” said Dr. Ingle.
Another tip is keeping a positive mindset and putting good mental energy into the atmosphere around you.
That means working proactively toward the successes of your employees. Give them projects you know they can thrive in and set them up for wins you know they can achieve.
By presenting opportunities to others and giving them the confidence to make sure they nail them, you will be rewarded tenfold and be seen as a success enabler instead of the head of a department where dreams disappear.
On the other hand, if your team or an individual member fails or is not operating to the high level they should be, be on hand to commiserate and discuss, not just write them off.
Engage on a human level, offer your advice, and help them find ways to get back on top. Another benefit to this point for successful leadership is that the bonds formed during shared tough times often become the basis for valued relationships.
Whether you are at a small company, a huge multinational corporation, or even running your own business Dr. Ingle’s insights into successful leadership are ones we can all learn from.
About Dr. Kent Ingle
Dr. Kent Ingle is the President of Southeastern University, public speaker and recognized thought leader. Ingle is passionate about creating lasting change in higher education and setting up organizations for success. He is the author of The Modern Guide to College and host of the popular Framework Leadership podcast. For more information about Dr. Kent Ingle, please visit www.kentingle.com