TLDR: Do the job properly, treat people with respect, meet objectives
My approach to work is broken down into three focus areas and three disciplines.
IT Service Management
Team Leadership & Development
Business Relationship Management
Process Improvement, Compliance & Security
The Focus Areas are about what I do. The Disciplines are about how I do it. I believe that it important not just to have this model available but to be conscious of it in how I do my job.
The Focus Areas are addressed in discussions in the Thoughts section of this site. For me the Disciplines define who I am as a manager, colleague and customer and form an ethical framework for me to work within.
Team Leadership & Development is the part of my career that gives me the most satisfaction. I truly believe that a leader serves the teams for which they are accountable, not the other way around. It is not leadership to dictate to teams what they should do, or how they should do it at a detail level. Leadership is about ensuring that teams have a clear understanding of their goals, the resources and skills to enable them to meet those goals, and a culture in which they want to do so. That means:
being clear about what the business needs and expects from us
creating a collaborative environment in which individual success is celebrated by the team and vice-versa
fostering a sense of personal commitment to a career path that benefits the individuals while they serve the team
Representing the team to the business in a positive way which advertises success
Protecting the team from unreasonable expectations and demands from the business
Any leader who achieve these points will build a high performing and successful team. Sometimes it might mean changing the membership of the team to hit the right balance, but it is worth it. No one is going to hit every one of those points in every interaction. It’s a framework, not a rulebook.
I have touched Business Relationship Management elsewhere on the site. No leader of any team can sit back and assume that the business values what the team does. You may be playing the starring role in the movie of your life, but you’re a background extra in everyone else’s. At best you might make supporting cast.
As a leader that means going to the business and building your part - finding ways for your team to support what the business needs, and then delivering on that. Keep going back, meet every week, every day if you have to, to make sure that you understand what they are thinking about and then make sure that your team are in that space.
It might be irrelevant though. If what they are thinking about today is recruiting a new civil engineer and you run an IT Service Desk you may not have much to add. But you can at least be aware of the recruitment, make sure the IT on-boarding goes smoothly, offer to reach out to the new colleague at the right time… there’s always a way you can be helpful, even if it’s just by doing your jobs well and making sure they notice.
Process Improvement, Compliance & Security have been grouped together because they are the hygiene factors. If any team is not thinking about these areas there is a problem.
The role of the leader here is partly about dictating, simply mandating that policy and process be followed. But we want more than mere compliance; we want ownership of the quality of compliance. To achieve that, we must involve the team in the process design. If the team have contributed to how we ensure we operate safely, securely and in compliance with company policies and the law, we can be a lot more confident that they will do so.
There are all sorts of ways to engage the teams in doing things right. KPIs showing improvement and success, healthy internal competition, gamification, the list is endless.
I find the best is simply to be honest, explain why it’s necessary, what the impact of non-compliance is to the business, the team and the individual, and ask for their support. People are often willing to do a lot for a sincere request politely made! Of course, that has to be coupled with very real consequences for persistent failure, but the goal is for these not to be necessary, for the team to want to exceed the requirement and to do so every day.