Stay in the trenches to be a great leader
Do you want to be a truly great manager — a leader your people unfailingly look to for guidance and inspiration?
If you’ve answered, “Yes!” to this question, it’s important for you to be in the trenches with your team. There are three reasons for this.
It allows you to lead by example, because if your employees see you rolling up your sleeves and getting to work, it will encourage them to do the same. As Robert Shimonski points out in his LinkedIn article “Leaders: To Know Your Team, Join Them in the Trenches,” this is especially important during times of crisis. For example, if you’re in danger of missing an important deadline, imagine how inspiring it would be for your employees to see you pitch in and help.
It also enables you to help your team solve problems. On any given day, your team is presented with a number of hurdles. By being present with them, you can guide them to an appropriate solution.
Finally, it allows you to consistently observe your employees’ performance up close. You’ll gain a greater understanding of each person’s abilities, as well as of their growth and potential.
What staying in the trenches means
So what exactly does it mean to stay in the trenches? According to Justin Moore in his Fast Company article “Leading From the Front Lines,” it involves the following four points:
- Embody the character and values you want to see in your team. If you’re asking them to do their best work and enable a specific company culture, it’s essential that they recognize your own dedication to the mission.
- Get in the front lines with your employees. Put in the same hours or longer and don’t avoid challenging tasks. Make yourself available to offer additional expertise and lend a helping hand when needed.
- Be accountable. Ultimately, you’re responsible for the performance of your team — so be prepared to take the blame if you don’t get the desired results.
- Give credit where credit is due. Working side-by-side with your people doesn’t mean you can take all of the credit for their success. Instead, it simply puts you in a better position to recognize and publicly acknowledge their input.
Staying on the front lines with your team can be demanding — but it can also be exhilarating. You not only get to see what your employees deal with day in and day out, but you can share in the excitement and satisfaction you get from successes both big and small. In the long run, it can help you improve your leadership abilities far more than any course or seminar.
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