x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 November 2017

Workplace doctor: Cohesion is the secret to being a good boss

The National's Workplace Doctor Debbie Nicol reveals the secrets to becoming an effective boss.

I have a friend who has a high-profile management job but is off to a rough start. The person who held the post before my friend was feared yet successful. How does my friend cope in the shadow of this legacy? DM, Dubai

In my opinion, the hardest thing to do in the workplace is to become a leader of a group in which you used to be a team member.

So your friend’s situation is not the greatest challenge he’s likely to face in his career (just trying to keep everything in perspective here).

I see your friend’s situation as a great opportunity for a turnaround. The secret is to aim for success with cohesion. Not only will the team be able to breathe again, but they will work for the leader and not against him. What an excellent accolade to have on a résumé, and what brilliant referees the turnaround will yield. 

How can your friend achieve that?

1 Don’t look back, look forward.

New leadership can’t help but bring new ways, so imagine cement that’s ready to be poured over the previous layer, and see it setting in the way you imagine. 

2 Know and be yourself.

I can think of one leader I’ve worked with who was so aligned in what he said and did. We all came to believe him and his word because he believed in what he said and always walked his talk.

When we saw him aiming towards the impossible, we knew it was worth the ride to try to go there with him. He had earned our trust, he was credible in our eyes and we loved the thrill of the chase with him.  We really bought into what he said and did.

Your friend will need to be clear on what he believes and be able to convincingly walk that talk, while connecting it to a beneficial outcome. People believe what is done and not what is said.

If intention is pure, the people will likely jump on to it quickly, as it appears they’ve been starved for a long time. Yet don’t expect this to happen overnight. Find one who responds more quickly than others and help him or her to be an ambassador of the new way.

3 Get them involved.

Do they know where it is you are taking them? What will the world look like when you are leading them? No one will wish to trust, or work transparently unless they can feel, see and be the change you are asking.

Spend time with each of them in an attempt to understand them as individuals, each with differing needs, and likely differing perceptions of the past too.

4 Provide the resources they need.

Time, budget, tools are what will set the team up for success. Your personal interest may be one such tool that costs little.  Build a community feel and allow their competence and confidence to soar. 

5 Publicly reward and reinforce the ideals you wish for.

Endorse when real results happen through teamwork, transparency and openness.

Highlight when trust has a positive impact. Advertise efforts of self-initiative. Reward that which you want more of.

 Your friend’s team will forget the past once the benefits of a new style of leadership become a tipping point.  He had better get to work then – there’s no time to lose.

Doctor’s prescription

Success is sweeter when others build it with you.

Debbie Nicol, the managing director of Dubai-based business en motion, is a consultant on leadership and organisational development, strategic change and corporate culture. Email her at debbie.nicol@businessenmotion.com for the Workplace Doctor’s advice on your challenges, whether as an employee, a manager or a colleague.