What makes a leader effective? It’s an age-old question and one that spans into a whole bunch of different arenas. After all, leadership is neither good nor bad. There have been great leaders who rallied people around some pretty terrible causes. There have also been some great causes, movements and even businesses that have fallen flat due to a lack of direction from the top down.

So, what’s in that secret sauce? What are the strategies that a leader can employ to get their team humming? Are there management styles that out perform all the rest?

Well, we thought that was worth exploring, so we sat down with Storbie CEO and self-proclaimed leader-by-necessity Shane Bartle, to chat about what he’s learned on the leadership front over his career. You can listen to the full interview below. But for the more text-on-a-page inclined, we’ve pulled out the top three takeaways for you further down. Let’s dive right in!

Learn to create a little bit of distance from what needs to get done

The vast majority of leaders didn’t set out to reach that position in life. It’s more than likely that you end up in that position of being responsible for a group of people for a whole range of reasons that didn’t include you saying to someone “I want to be responsible for a group of people.”

This is especially true when we’re talking about small businesses. The average busines owner will have started out with a very small group of people – possibly just themselves and maybe a couple of others. Then when a business starts growing, more people come on board and suddenly you’re managing a whole team without even realising that you’ve graduated to a ‘real manager.’

The size of your team can make a big difference to the style you adopt in managing those employees. The key is remembering that this enhances the capabilities of your team and making the most of the skills that these new people bring. When you’re starting a business you just have to do everything yourself because that’s how things get done.

However once you have a team in the trenches with you, you can start to delegate some of those responsibilities. Your function in the business shifts from managing everything to making sure that you’re getting the best person for each task. The best part is that you’ll probably find that your team is really good at stuff, and that things will get done even better than you could have done yourself. It’s a win-win!

Avoid being the dreaded micro-manager

At Storbie every potential new employee is asked how they like to be managed during their interview. Unsurprisingly, there were some common threads that he noticed and the most common one was this: people hate to be micro-managed. Not exactly a big surprise as I’m sure many of us would feel the same, right? But what does that really look like, or perhaps more pertinently, what does a non-micro-manager look like? A macro-manager?

Well, it’s quite simple really. People want to be given the opportunity to get on and do their job. They want to feel like you trust them to get things done and that you’re not going to quibble over little details that don’t matter in the scheme of things.

But that’s not all. A completely hands-off management style can be just as frustrating, especially when that manager holds the decision making power. The key word here is accessible. While you don’t want to hover over your staff you also need to have time for them when they need it.

Shane shared one of his own experiences in the podcast:

“I was in a job at quite a big organisation, the general manager of that organisation was obviously a very busy individual. But there was this one thing that wasn’t happening that I thought should be, so I thought ‘right, I’m going to go and talk to him about it.’ So I went up to him and said ‘Excuse me,’ and he turned around and gave me all of his attention. I’ve never forgotten the look in his eye, he listened to what I had to say, and he really gave me that time. He wasn’t necessarily going to take action, but he did follow up on it later. I’ve never forgotten that.”

Long story short, one of the best strategies you can adopt as a manager is to make yourself accessible. Don’t hover, just be there to give your time when it’s needed. That’s the best kind of support you can offer.

Remember that it's all about bringing out the best in people

Ultimately the goal of management is to help your team to be at their best and make sure they’re all working towards the same goal. The details do matter, especially in a small business when there are complexities, regulations and so forth to contend with. But chances are that if you have staff, your business is so big and complex that you wouldn’t ever be able to monitor every detail on your own. That’s why you hired people, right?

So rather than focus on the details day-to-day, focus on fostering the same passion and principles that guide you in your business in your staff. The more that your team understands why things are done a certain way, the more you will be able to trust them to take care of those all-important details.

Every team will be different and you will have a good idea of the sorts of task and responsibilities you can delegate. It might not be all at once, but the more you can focus on that accessibility style of management, the more room you will create for your team to thrive. Not to mention the time that it will free up for you to focus on growing your business – or maybe fitting in another round of golf.

Whatever works, eh?

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