In today's rapidly evolving professional landscape, the ability to lead effectively is a crucial component of professional development. Leadership is one of eight essential skills that we focus on at the Skills Builder Partnership. We recognise the significance of leadership skills in achieving career success and personal growth.
This blog will explore the skill of leadership, with a particular focus on managing tasks by dividing up jobs fairly, sharing resources, time management, and ensuring that group decisions reach a shared conclusion. For individuals in the early/middle stages of their careers, these leadership skills are essential for your growth and success. This blog will also highlight practical tips for people building leadership skills for themselves.
Managing tasks by dividing jobs fairly
Leadership isn't about shouldering all the responsibilities, but effectively managing tasks by dividing them fairly among your team. By delegating tasks evenly through your team, this not only eases the workload but also fosters a sense of unity and collaboration within the group. Leadership Step 3 supports individuals to find the right balance when delegating tasks to a team. To optimise your professional development as a leader, consider the following strategies:
- Assess individual strengths: Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your team members is the first step in dividing tasks effectively to work on your management skills. By capitalising on their strengths, you can allocate tasks that align with their skillsets. In this sense, it will be useful to consider where specific expertise is required for tasks and allocating to people accordingly. This is very applicable when working on a project that involves different departments and there is a need to allocate tasks based on colleagues' specific expertise and experience.
- Set clear objectives: Clearly defined objectives are essential for dividing tasks fairly. Ensure that every team member understands their responsibilities and the goals they are working towards. This clarity minimises misunderstandings and enhances accountability. An effective way of doing this is clarifying objectives at the end of a team meeting and checking with everyone present that they understand which objectives that they are each accountable for.
- Regular communication: Effective communication is key to task allocation. Encourage an open dialogue where team members can discuss their progress, challenges, and ideas. This promotes a supportive and inclusive work environment. For example whilst working as a project manager setting up clear internal communication channels for people on the project to have an open dialogue about the project work and scheduling regular catch-ups to come together as a team (daily, weekly or monthly depending on the timeframe of the project).
Harnessing the experience of others as a leader
Early career managers have relative managerial inexperience and a need to draw on other colleagues' expertise to ensure the success of a project or workstream. In the pursuit of professional development and honing management skills, leaders must recognise the power of sharing resources to achieve success. One way is to focus on Leadership step 5 to learn how to lead others in a collaborative way that ensures shared decisions are reached. Sharing decisions is helped by managing resources like knowledge, information, and opportunities. Here's how you can optimise your leadership skills through resource sharing:
- Collaborative mindset: Adopt a collaborative mindset that prioritises sharing expertise and insights for collective success. When you willingly offer your resources, others are likely to reciprocate, creating a mutually beneficial environment. An example of how to do this is rather than making a decision on your own, bringing together a group to share your views, hear others and reach a plan based on the different ideas put forward.
- Knowledge sharing: Sharing your knowledge and expertise can empower your team members to perform better. Promote continuous learning within your team by facilitating knowledge-sharing sessions or providing access to relevant learning resources.
- Foster innovation: Encourage team members to brainstorm and share creative ideas. By pooling their diverse perspectives and talents, you can foster innovation and achieve breakthrough results. For example, ahead of an important meeting, you could set everyone the task of preparing one possible solution to the challenge you are facing and bring that idea to the meeting for discussion.
Effective time management
Time is a precious resource, and an excellent leader knows how to manage it effectively. Here are some essential time management tips to enhance your leadership skills:
- Prioritise tasks: To manage your time effectively, prioritise tasks based on their importance and urgency. Focus on high-priority tasks that align with your goals and delegate or eliminate less important ones. This is particularly important at times of high workload, spend time everyday planning what the essential focuses for that day in relation to deadlines, imminent meetings and more long-term project work. The same method applied to planning out priorities for larger time periods such as weeks or months.
- Set realistic deadlines: Setting realistic deadlines for yourself and your team is crucial. Overcommitting can lead to burnout and decreased productivity. Ensure that deadlines are attainable while still challenging. A helpful way of doing this is writing to-do lists that do not set you up for failure. Keep lists realistic and be conscientious about recognising when you have completed work so that you can track your progress over time. This sense of achievement is motivating and propels you forward to work towards other deadlines.
- Time blocking: Time blocking involves dedicating specific time slots to particular tasks. This structured approach can enhance productivity by minimising distractions and multitasking. Using your calendar as a mechanism for achieving this is a really effective way of time blocking. Schedule in specific periods in your week for no meetings that can be used as focus time or for project work will free up your brainspace to approach the work at hand.
Leaders should ensure that group decisions reach a shared conclusion, fostering a sense of belonging and ownership among team members. Here's how you can develop this essential leadership skill:
- Listen actively: Actively listening to your team members is the first step in inclusive decision-making. Give them a platform to voice their opinions, concerns, and ideas. By valuing their input, you create a culture of respect and inclusivity. Listening step 7 can help direct your development of active listening. Using open questions to deepen your understanding gives you a stronger perspective on what your colleagues are communicating and also indicates to them that you value what they have to say and include them in the decision making process.
- Consensus building: Aim to reach a consensus when making decisions. Encourage constructive dialogue and compromise when necessary. This approach ensures that everyone's perspectives are considered, leading to more robust decisions. Use meetings as an opportunity to reach decisions that are agreed upon by the whole group and give individuals space to express reservations in order to find solutions that are representative of everyone’s views.
- Transparency: Transparency in decision-making is critical for building trust. Keep your team informed about the decision-making process, the factors involved, and the final outcome. This transparency promotes a sense of fairness and inclusivity. As a leader, when you take decisions it is important for people to understand how that decision has been made. Without that transparency, it can do damage to team morale and productivity.
By adopting these strategies, whether you are in the early or middle stages of your career, you can develop essential management skills that will propel your career forward. As you master these skills, you will not only excel in your role but also contribute to the growth and success of your team and organisation. People excel in leadership roles when they work collaboratively, manage their time effectively and make best use of the expertise and experience in their team.
Practical next steps
- Explore our Universal Framework to understand how you can identify, articulate and build leadership skills to set you up for long-term success.
- Complete a Skills Builder Benchmark in order to understand your current essential skill set and to identify critical development areas for your own management and leadership skills.
- Make use of Launchpad to expand your knowledge and understanding of leadership skills