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How Stepping Down Helped Me Step Up: Lessons in Leadership

In 2019, I led a team of new relationship managers in UOB, where we learned and grew together. I developed my leadership style and focused on coaching and strategizing with team members. When the pandemic hit and we shifted to remote work, I increased team meetings to ensure targets were met. Despite initial insecurity, our hard work paid off, and I was offered a transformational role. However, I still feel I could have done better during this challenging time.

Observing two exceptional leaders, Sheldon and Caryn, with similar affiliative leadership styles, I noticed a lot of giving, praising, and celebrating individual successes as a team. Sheldon listened attentively, while Caryn set aside a portion of her income for team bonding activities. Their approaches kept everyone engaged and motivated.

And after reading "12, The Elements of Great Managing" by Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter, I finally gained insight into their success and areas where I could have done better. And the rules are:

  1. Develop strengths - Focus on your team's strengths, not their weaknesses. Identify and develop their talents to improve their overall performance.

  2. Build trust - Trust is the foundation of any successful team. Develop a culture of trust by being honest, transparent, and consistent in your actions.

  3. Hold people accountable - Set clear expectations and hold your team members accountable for their performance. Provide regular feedback, coaching, and recognition to encourage their growth.

  4. Define the right outcomes - Clarify the goals, objectives, and expectations for your team. Help your team members understand their roles and how they contribute to the overall success of the team.

  5. Select for talent - Hire people with the right talents, skills, and attitude. Look for candidates who fit your team's culture and can bring diverse perspectives to the team.

  6. Coach for performance - Provide ongoing coaching, feedback, and development opportunities to help your team members improve their performance.

  7. Communicate effectively - Communicate clearly, listen actively, and respond promptly to your team members' needs and concerns. Foster open and honest communication to build trust and rapport.

  8. Focus on strengths - Focus on your team's strengths, not their weaknesses. Encourage them to use their strengths to achieve their goals and overcome challenges.

  9. Recognize achievements - Celebrate your team's successes, recognize their contributions, and reward their achievements. This will encourage them to continue performing at their best.

  10. Develop the team - Build a cohesive and collaborative team culture. Encourage teamwork, communication, and collaboration to achieve common goals.

  11. Find the right fit - Align your team members' strengths with the right roles and responsibilities. Help them find the right fit to maximize their potential and contribution to the team.

  12. Connect with purpose - Create a sense of purpose and meaning for your team. Help them understand how their work contributes to the organization's mission and vision.

If I had applied some of these rules, I could have created a high-performing team that is motivated, engaged, and productive.

Word of advice if you're in a leadership role today. Develop a culture of trust, accountability, and recognition. Keep your team members engaged and motivated by providing ongoing coaching, feedback, and development opportunities. Celebrate their successes, align their strengths with the right roles, and connect them with a sense of purpose and meaning. By following these rules, you can become an exceptional leader like Sheldon and Caryn and build a successful team that achieves great results.

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