Good leadership skills – is being helpful one of them?

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Leadership skills - is being helpful one of them?

Good Leadership Skills

We can probably agree that being a helpful leader is one of a collection of positive and important leadership skills to have. However, it can have unwelcome side effects that wreck your productivity. I know because I’ve experienced them. Willing to serve my team and be a good leader, I established an open-door policy. I encouraged the team to contact me about any problems or challenges they were facing. Being a helpful person, I’d work with them to find the best way forward.

This might sound reasonable, but the impact on my own productivity was significant. Every interruption has a cost attached to it, in the region of 20 minutes of time lost.  That’s on average how long it takes to get back into the task before the interruption took place. Secondly, it removed the need for my team to consider potential solutions to the problem. Why would they bother as they were going to share the problem with me anyway?

How could I be both productive and helpful to be a good leader?

I was working late one evening and everyone had left. I was getting on with the work  I’d intended to get done that day. However, I hadn’t, because of too many interruptions! I realised that my issue was about a lack of boundaries. I had created a free for all, any support at any time and I had turned into a 24/7 helpdesk! That had to change for me to be more productive.

I pondered the options; how could I resolve this? The option of being an unhelpful manager wasn’t the way forward as that wouldn’t improve team effectiveness at all. I decided to increase the frequency of my team one to one meetings from monthly to weekly. My rationale was that if we allocated 30 minutes each week. All topics that needed my input could be addressed then, and this would solve the constant interruptions. Any emergencies could be addressed outside that window as needed. With a team of six, that was three hours per week for one to one meetings. That was far less than the interruptions I was getting.

Improved team effectiveness

The results were surprisingly good. Team effectiveness grew. They felt more empowered to make decisions between the weekly meetings without having to ask for my input. The team felt quite comfortable to hold topics until that session as the meeting were weekly. We were also able to keep the meetings to the 30 minutes allocated because they were frequent sessions. If we needed more time, we would reschedule another meeting, but that wasn’t a frequent occurrence. The outcome was that I improved my productivity. My team effectiveness grew, whilst retaining my desire to be a helpful manager.

If you’re a manager who strives to be helpful try weekly one to ones. I highly recommend you give it a go and enjoy improved team effectiveness.

For more leadership techniques join me on my Facebook group – Leadership in Challenging Times.

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