As a participative leader, remember that you are teaming up for better service — to the company and yourself. Teamwork has become a favorite management technique in the 21st century. It seems you can’t pick up a professional journal or business book today without reading about the success of work teams.
Participative leadership means working with your team as you address issues together, solve problems and share achievements as a group. Participative leaders demonstrate the following competencies and attributes:
1. Patience. Keep your eye on your goal, and allow for delays and setbacks. A patient attitude can help lessen stress.
2. Attitude. A positive attitude is infectious— if you approach your work in a positive, upbeat way, your team will approach business transactions in a positive way as well.
3. Responsibility. You must ultimately take responsibility for the quality of the work produced.
4. Trust. Have faith that your team is able to exercise common sense and make the right decisions.
5. Intuition. Rely on your intuition and don’t immediately jump to the most obvious solution when making decisions. Let the issue simmer for a short time until you can identify what your instincts tell you.
6. Communication. You’ll communicate more effectively by discussing issues with your team rather than talking at them.
7. Imagination. Encourage team members to use their imagination when solving problems. Challenge the old methods with innovative ideas, and the result will be an involved staff and satisfied customers.
8. Persistence. Use gentle firmness to get a job done. Use deadlines for special job assignments and a timeline with status reports due. This creates a more structured work method and allows project updates when you need them.
9. Energy. Effective leaders must have a high energy level and know how to pace themselves so that they can draw on it throughout the day. So don’t just react to problem situations — become proactive at providing great leadership.
While teamwork serves the company, there are also benefits available to you as a participative leader, such as the following:
• Realistic and achievable goal setting. You have input in setting your goals, so you can feel more committed to them. As a group, the team is capable of accomplishing more, and your expectations can be higher.
• Individual development and exposure to diversity. You have an opportunity to learn from differing strengths represented on your work team, and you have an arena for modeling your strengths and teaching other team members. Being involved with team issues and interactions exposes you to a broader perspective regarding both your department and your company than you previously experienced in an individual job setting. In practical terms, championing diversity simply means to value variety within your team. Most teams contain a wide variety of personalities. These differences among team members can sometimes lead to conflicts that harm morale but remember that you have more in common than you think. You may have your share of differences, but you also share something very significant: a stake in the success of your team and your company. So look at your colleagues as allies in your quest to achieve important goals.
• Leadership development. As a participative leader, you have a forum in which to develop skills to equip you for advancement. You will also have an opportunity to establish rapport with your co-workers and gain their trust and acceptance as a leader.
• Conflict resolution. Closer communication brought about by teaming leads to better and more open handling of conflict. Honest communication leads to relationship building, trust in one another and loyalty to the team.
• Networking. Team members can form a support system based on knowing one another as individual team players. You will come to understand one another’s special needs and priorities and enable one another to meet those needs.
Participative leadership today requires strategic thinking and taking — not asking for — the proverbial seat at the leadership table.
No matter what your position is on the corporate ladder, you must think like a leader, not a cog. In order to be a success in today’s workplace, you’ve got to do the following:
• Think about how what you do as a leader fits into the company’s objectives.
• Convince your CEO that you have the vision, drive, and leadership abilities to achieve the organization’s objectives.
• Persuade senior management that moving you up presents a lower risk and higher value than bringing someone in from the outside.
• Outperform and outthink the scope of your current position.
• Conceptualize and operate with a global perspective.
• Network internally, across departmental lines.
• Work with your peers.
• Keep up communication with other departments.
Remember, rewards never arrive before performance. And performance does not go unrewarded for long.
Fernan R. Cepero, PHR is chief human resources officer for the YMCA of Greater Rochester. Fernan has also served an employee development manager for The Perrier Group of America, where his responsibilities include recruiting, employee development and ensuring effective succession planning. Prior to assuming this position he served as human resource and employee development manager for Xerox. Fernan serves on the faculty at Medaille College and the University of Phoenix. He is immediate past president of the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management and served as state director of the New York State Society of Human Resource Management. He has an M.S. in Human Resource Development from Rochester Institute of Technology, an M.A. in Foreign Studies from the American University and a B.A. from Fordham University. This article is brought to you by the Rochester affiliate of the National HR Association, a local professional HR organization focused on advancing the career development, planning and leadership of HR professionals. Visit www.humanresources.org for more information.