Leadership 101

Posted by Matt Berringer on June 5, 2012

By Dr. Ramiro Zuniga

I recently had a telephone conversation with a friend that I had not seen in quite a while. My friend, Rachel, had actually called to tell me that she had just been promoted into a leadership position. Needless to say, I was very happy for her.

As the conversation progressed, she began to express some concerns that I have heard many times before from other blossoming leaders.

Rachel’s concerns centered on getting her new team to perform at her expected level. She shared with me, that at her last staff meeting, her best laid out goals were met with blank stares. Her reaction was to continue explaining each goal along and setting out the expectations for her group. And so, Rachel conducted her staff meeting with the hope that her staff would step up and perform.

Well, one of her staff did step up. Well, sort of. Later that evening her staff member called Rachel on her cell phone and began to discuss the meeting. Rachel’s staff member told her that the entire staff was not pleased at all. She further indicated to Rachel, that the goals and objectives were not realistic and therefore not attainable. Eventually, the conversation ended, leaving Rachel perplexed.

Of course, Rachel was troubled because she sincerely felt that the objectives were in fact within reason.

My response to Rachel was this,

“Rachel, you pretty much made the same mistake I made when I first became an administrator. You’ve gone over your goals and objectives to ensure that they are, in fact, attainable. The expectations that you set forth were based on what you expect from yourself. In essence, you are expecting your staff to perform as you would. You are measuring your staff by the same stick you measure yourself. That is your mistake. You need to understand that the reason that you are now in a leadership position is that your supervisor saw something in you. Perhaps you perform at a higher level. Perhaps you are more organized.”

The lesson here is to realize that every employee works at their own productivity level for various reasons. Some employees are there to simply receive a check. Some employees are limited because of their skill level. Still others may not appreciate your personality. Fortunately, these type of individuals are in the minority. But make no mistake, they are out there.

Take the time to get to know your employees. Learn what their strengths are. Learn what their weaknesses are. Learn what they enjoy most about their job as well as what they don’t like.

It is required that you provide performance goals and objectives but do so with your staff in mind. Perhaps offer the goals and objective discussion as a brainstorming session. If your staff expresses concerns, ask why. Be prepared to, “go back to the drawing board,” if need be.

Offer ideas, training, and encouragement to your staff. It is all too often that staff feels unprepared for new challenges. Be prepared to advise them on how you would meet those goals and objectives. Come up with different ways of inspiring them.

Be completely forthcoming with your staff as it relates to the goals and objectives. If your superiors are mandating a specific quota or timeline, let your staff know. Let them also know that they will not be alone in their endeavors. Let them know that you will be there for support and guidance.

I close by wishing Rachel and all you other emerging leaders the best of luck. And remember, I’m only a phone call away.

Topics: staff development, Leadership, K-12