Who makes a great team leader?

 Leading a team requires a wholly different set of skills to performing well in your role, and knowing the challenges it might bring can make putting your name forward for promotion daunting.

Studying towards a team leadership qualification can build your confidence, and supporting members of your team towards these qualifications benefits your organisation in the long term with more experienced, more confident team leaders who guide their own teams towards greater success.

What skills do team leaders require?

Knowing how to prioritise, understanding the strengths and unique skills each member of that team brings, and how to appropriately position them to support those strengths and get the best from everyone. Team leadership is about more than issuing instructions, it’s about a higher level of business acumen, of understanding processes, a greater understanding of the financial challenges and processes of business, and, where relevant, creating timesheets or rotas for their team to ensure that the business is always adequately staffed.

Team leaders are there to communicate the needs and goals of upper management with the workforce on the floor, and to communicate the successes and challenges of that workforce back to the managers, delegating the workload and making sure processes run smoothly, and that everyone is being supported in their work.

It’s a multi-faceted role, and it is an important stage in career development for people looking to take their next step and build their confidence. Our Team Leadership course is just one from our catalogue of programmes, and is an excellent option for those looking for promotion, but unsure they are ready for the step. The course is also an excellent tool for those already in team leader or supervisor roles who want to clarify their own strengths and build on their experience to build confidence in their position.

Call today to discuss your goals, and what other programmes we can offer to help you to get there.

How to perfect decision making in business

Uncertainty is one of the biggest contributing factors to stress in – and out of – the workplace. When faced with a challenging decision, a lot of us shy away from a definitive answer, delaying the point where we are forced to pick a path for as long as possible – leading to more stress along the way!

Decision making is one of the key skills of leadership, and we can help you to work through the process, establishing yourself as a confident, assertive leader who knows how to set a plan of action into play.

Leaders are faced with a lot of challenges – and picking the right path forward for their own workload, the future of the organisation, and how to get the best from their team all combine to make decision making, at times, quite overwhelming.

The best path through this process is to identify which are the most pressing issues, the pros and cons of each possible answer, and the impact those choices will have on others within the organisation and the path the company might take moving forward.

Being able to identify these possibilities without any emotional response, prejudice or personal slant means taking your own feelings out of the picture and using the facts to decide the best course of action – as well as factoring in the bigger picture rather than what works best in the moment.

These processes are skills – which means that they are processes which can be learned – and taught – which is where we come in. We can guide you or your team through the Decision Making programme, helping you to identify your own innate responses to challenges, the ways in which you thrive and where you need support, and help you to understand how to break difficult decisions down into simpler processes, working towards a decision which factors in all of the possible outcomes and leads your career and your organisation to greater successes in the future.

For more information on this decision making course visit our catalogue or contact us today to discuss your organisation and the ways in which our programmes can help develop your future leaders.


Assertive leadership

There can often be confusion between what behaviours are classified as assertive and what are just micro aggressions – or even blatant aggressions! For many people in the workplace, assertiveness doesn’t come naturally, and we can shy away from standing our ground for fear of upsetting another person, which can damage our own self-worth, and confidence in our skills.

Here we will discuss what assertiveness in the workplace means, and how we can help you to achieve it without offending people.

Picture this scene:

Gillian has planned a long weekend, taking Friday and Monday off, and has planned to finish work at 3pm on Thursday. At 2.30 her manager pops her head around the door and says, “can you get me a report on this month’s sales figures by Tuesday?”

Gillian knows that she won’t have enough time to finish the report before she’s planned to leave; she knows that her manager is expecting her to stay late or to complete the work over the weekend, getting it delivered on time. She is frustrated that she’s been asked at such short notice and that she’d have to work through some of her holiday.

There are several ways she can respond:

A: Gillian agrees, stays late, and doesn’t get to leave early enough to begin her holiday as planned, or takes the work with her and spends most of her break completing the report, making her angry and leaving her manager with the impression that Gillian can always be given short notice workloads.

B: Gillian gets angry, and refuses to do the work, telling her manager just how unfair she thinks this request is, and leaves on time in a bad mood, leaving her manager with equally ill feeling.

C: Gillian politely reminds her boss that she is on leave, and won’t have time to complete the report. She suggests either doing it on her return, or asking another member of the team to take it on.

Option A is a poor choice for all involved – Gillian’s leave is impacted, her mental health and wellbeing are strained, and her boss has become a bully, taking advantage of her kind nature and commitment to the job, knowing that Gillian won’t say anything about being pushed around. In this scenario, the boss is the aggressor.

Option B makes Gillian the aggressor – friction and anger are terribly damaging to the culture of any workplace, and will cause ongoing issues for both parties, who will respond with this enhanced emotional state to any contact for some time.

Option C is the assertive response: Gillian isn’t rude, her boss isn’t positioned as the aggressor, and neither respond with emotion or dominance over the other; a request was made, and the reasons it was refused were fair and firmly explained, with alternative options recommended for the work.

You see, in order to stand your ground, you don’t need to react with anger, to respond emotionally, or to let it impact working relationships when you disagree over something.

Instead, simply asserting your position, firmly but politely laying out the situation, and offering alternative solutions to an issue, shows that you can’t be taken advantage of, but that you are still willing to provide solutions to any issues, and can still be relied upon.

If assertive behaviours are difficult for you, we can help. Assertiveness training is one of the personal development courses we have been running successfully for clients across both the public and private sectors, and the impact of the training can help you or your workforce to communicate better, to develop their confidence and abilities to perform in the workplace, and to succeed.

Explore our catalogue of programmes, or contact us today to discuss our courses, and which would be the best match for you.

How important are soft skills in successful leadership?

First of all, we need to define what we mean by ‘soft skills’ – and then we can explain in more detail why they matter, and how to develop them in your own leadership.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are the intangible, interpersonal skills that make up who we are. While we can measure and list specific ‘hard skills’ like being good with numbers, planning, IT and coding, and other qualified skills, these ‘soft skills’ are just as important, but less simple to define.

Soft skills are things like:

  • Being a team player.
  • Flexibility.
  • Resourcefulness.
  • Confidence.
  • Creativity.
  • Reading body language.
  • Good communication.
  • Organisation.
  • Approachability.
  • Adaptability.

As you can see – this list, which includes some but not all of what we identify as soft skills, has a lot of traits we want to see, in our leaders, in our employees – in ourselves!

But they are skills which some people struggle to connect with, and which can be hard to quantify. To what extent can one say one has ‘resourcefulness’ and how can that be measured in a way that can help you to decide which person to recruit, when they have identical ‘hard skills’ and you need a strong, reliable leader to take your company forward? Do these things really come into the decision making process when you’re recruiting or promoting someone into a senior role?

Well – to put it bluntly – heck yes!

Why do soft skills matter?

Great leadership is about far more than knowing more than others, or being able to perform tasks and routines to a strict schedule. It’s more than qualifications and expertise.

Leaders are there to support, guide and inspire growth – they are there to encourage the workforce to be their best, to perform well, and to be innovative and creative.

Someone who isn’t at least able to understand these things, who is focussed solely on numbers and unable to factor in humanity and what drives people, is far less likely to create the right kind of culture or environment.

However, if you encourage emotional intelligence, adaptability and resilience in your people, they will thrive in a position of authority.

Employees are far more than machines who perform tasks and tick off actions on a to-do list – they are complex people with a range of experiences, histories and personalities, who all learn in different ways, perform in different ways, and respond to different stimuli in unique ways. Some will thrive if they are given a target, others will crumble under the pressure. Some need a firm hand with consequences for poor performance, others panic under that kind of regime. Some want to be guided through each process carefully, and others want more autonomy and dislike being watched over.

Understanding these different approaches and being able to adapt the way you treat different personalities in your team is vital if you want to succeed – and creating a culture in which everyone can feel secure, heard and respected encourages people to perform better, to suggest more ideas, to push the organisation forward.

How can I tap into my ‘soft skills’ and be a better leader?

We have a wealth of tools available that help you to learn more about who you are, what makes you tick, and what your innate personality traits are – and from there we can help you to learn how to play to your strengths, how to boost areas you find yourself struggling, and how to better communicate with others – at every level.

Step one to being a better leader is to understand exactly who you are – and then commit to being a better version of that self – and we have a wide range of learning programmes, both classroom and online learning, which can be tailored to suit your specific needs.

Call us today to hear more about our programmes, and explore our catalogue of training and development courses to learn how we can help you.

Things to consider before committing to online learning:

For many people, the appeal of online learning, with it’s flexible, affordable approach to qualifications to further already full-time careers, is understandable – and the industry is booming, which shows that there’s a growing market for this shift from traditional classroom learning.

With that growing market, though, come a number of questions anyone looking for flexible learning needs to consider. If you’re hoping to expand your qualifications, and further your career, with distance learning, here are some things you might want to consider:

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Competency Mapping

Competency Mapping as a tool for success.

When you’ve been working for your employer for a few years, and an opportunity for a promotion has opened, you know that your managers need to choose which member of the team is ready to take the step up; the HR team have said they’ll be using competency mapping as part of the recruitment process, and you’ve been asked to fill in some questionnaires.

So, what does it mean, how can it help them to pick the right person for the job, and how can you be sure that you’ve got what they need?

Continue reading “Competency Mapping”