Awareness of handling people : ways and means of leadership

This article has been written by Golock Chandra Sahoo pursuing a Personal Branding Program for Corporate Leaders and edited by Shashwat Kaushik.

This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.

A leader makes him/her alert as to the ways/means of handling people. That is the main characteristic needed to succeed as a great leader. No doubt, a leader manages the things to be done and for this, all environmental awareness, including self-awareness is necessary for providing good leadership. As per the Stanford Research Institute, a leader in effect should have 12 percent knowledge of doing and 38 percent knowledge of handling people. This 38 percent knowledge is acquired by a leader through practise and holds good for any organisation, irrespective of its type. Even the head of the family acts with this knowledge. In any organisation, a leader faces four types of people (sub-ordinates, colleagues, boss/bosses, outside stakeholders). Managing all of these people may not be uniform. A leader is to yield the best out of all associates. Persuading people to work in any adverse situation is a stupendous task that requires motivation and the right perspective. Some fundamental ways of handling people and making them work can be discussed in the succeeding paragraphs.

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Unless the sub-ordinates work in the right manner, the boss can’t come up with a right and effective decision. So, decision making at the top level depends on the ways the people in the lower echelon or same echelon of the organisation function. Here are some guidelines as to how to deal with subordinates.

Know your subordinates by name- This enhances closeness. Express your directions on the documents by marking the name of the person. This may act miraculously and the subordinate will definitely be enthused to work or act as per the direction.

Bharat is a vast land of varied religions, cultures, castes, languages, customs, creeds etc.- A leader should learn to pay respect to all religions and refrain from criticising any. Any subordinate feels tempted when it is addressed in his/her mother tongue. So it is essential for a leader to learn the language of the subordinates. Please know that knowledge of other’s languages will act fantastically in motivating your subordinates.

Try to develop self-discipline first, before advising any- An officer/middle level boss attending to his/her duties at 11 A.M can’t direct the lower level people to attend office by 10 A.M. Direction will never yield ordinarily. Learn to control yourself. One should be vigilant to watch all the words, actions, thoughts, conducts and, above all, his/her heart.

Never give false promise/promises to enhance your credibility- One can’t satisfy all by being positioned somewhere. That is never possible. Therefore, a true leader should at times work with autocracy and, most of the time, act democratically. The style of functioning should be a mixture. Next, sympathy is not a permissible mode. Any subordinate who is shown, or judged or assigned anything sympathetically may turn bitter afterward. Pay Rs. 5/- to a beggar for, say, five days, and from the sixth day on, the same beggar will demand more. That is the dark symptom of sympathy. A leader should be empathetic and that will provide all that is due after parting with something.

Courtesy costs nothing but pays much- A leader should be courteous and be free from anger and emotion. It should be the virtue of a leader to scold in private but praise in public. So anger is only applicable to privacy and emotion in public. For any bad work of the team, discredit should be shouldered by a leader. If the work is acclaimed publicly, all credit should be given to the group. This temperament works with strong group cohesion and bonding and the group performs with sincerity and diligence in all situations.

It is advisable to set targets for all- In case it is not possible, give the opportunity to your subordinates to fix their own targets and do so with intimation from you. Target fixing or setting shows you the speed at which your group performs or your organisation flourishes. A leader should be able to measure/analyze the shortfall in every case and direct remedial measures, if required, with constructive criticism. This action may help someone improve. Again, s/he should review the implementation step by step while corrective steps are under way.

Be accessible and fix times to meet your subordinates- Please make it a point that every subordinate develops a sense of you as a member of their family. While someone is ill or having some difficulty, a successful leader should treat this moment as an opportunistic means to come to their rescue.

Be communicative- Listen more and talk a little. Communication skills enable you to know your people. Communication skills play an important role in knowing your people. Once someone is attached to work under your control, as the true leader, you should have through knowledge of all of their whereabouts, such as family history, educational and professional data, technical background, residential status, etc. This will enable you to correctly fix assignments for that subordinate. Every time, constantly practise listening before responding.

A good leader should create every scope for career advancement of the subordinates- In government organisations, career progression is assured in terms of monetary hikes. Though the post is not upgraded, all financial benefits automatically accrue to a person. So s/he never feels demotivated to work for the betterment of the organisation. In any case, there should not be any barrier for someone to be upgraded if she/he is not adversely characterised in any situation.

Handling people of equal cadre/status is a tough and arduous task. Your colleagues may be jealous of your calibre and position or of your goodwill with the boss. Therefore, it is advisable to tactfully handle them in the course of your official assignments or off the record additional responsibilities. It happens more often with private entities. Here are some notable tips.

Avoid seeking any sort of unfair advantage from any of your colleagues- This may create confusion and hinder your regular tasks. Developing this attitude may sometimes lead to untoward incidents, which may not be managed easily.

Never disclose any of your points of discussion- It is very likely that, at any time, they may play the role of critics with this information. This may irritate your boss and your relationship with your boss may be shattered for no immediate reason on your end.

Don’t interfere in the work domain of your colleagues- Similarly, never use any of your colleagues to assist you in any of your assignments. This may bring difficulties to your effective management of relationships between colleagues subsequently. Rather, extend all cooperation for the completion of the assigned tasks of your colleagues, if needed, as this is in the better interest of the organisation.

Maintain all cordial relationships with your colleagues- Be well mannered to all working with you horizontally. This will reduce your official strain and you may then be tempted to work in a better spirit.

The boss, the head of the organisation, is never predictable, so handling the boss is a very daunting task. But one can manage the immediate boss with specific knowledge. These can be stated as follows.

  • You should have every piece of information about the academic and professional background of your boss, including their working experience. His method of work should be known to you and this may enable you to work under him/her with the fewest complexities. Some bosses need an explanation of all issues directly from the dealing hand when cases are put up to him/her. Yet some others are there who give direction on the basis of recorded data in the file. So for dealing with the bosses in the latter category, one is to take all precautions with the submission of papers and documents.
  • While talking to your boss, you should be very brief and to the point. Before approaching your boss for any issue, decide the mode of your presentation. While talking directly, avoid all bluffs. Avoid diverting the topic for any reason unless directed specifically.
  • Don’t interrupt while your boss talks to you. Listen with undivided attention. Try to read the body language of your boss, if possible, through direct eye contact. This may aid you in understanding the directions and style of acting of your boss and accordingly, you may manage your activities.
  • It is advisable to highlight all the good work of your subordinates in front of the boss and no complaint should ordinarily be raised against anybody. Please know that all bosses are problem solvers, never creators.
  • Improve yourself to keep you updated technologically and add value. Assignments should be cleared on time. The manual task age is gradually becoming out of track. The more you know technology, the more you will be demanded by your organization and in the process, your boss may find you more valuable.
  • Never propose any single action for any issue directly to your boss. It is better to inform everyone of the pros and cons of an issue, along with some suggested actions. A PowerPoint presentation helps a lot. Present in such a manner that your preferred option to solve the issue catches attention. Act diplomatically to present the issues of inherent bottlenecks and act for any preferred solution. Remember that the decision of your boss is final and binding, so avoid saying no.
  • Practise highlighting the strength of your boss to others. In terms of grapevine communication, this message will automatically reach your boss and s/he may be impressed with this information. Alternatively, spread of this message may give you moral strength to perform with attention and devotion
  • Feed your boss with every requisite material before your boss proceeds for a meeting. In the course of a meeting, don’t offer any suggestions directly from your side unless you have been specifically called upon by your boss to do so.

Stakeholders include customers, shareholders, creditors, investors, employees and even inhabitants of the adjacent society. For a private entity, it is essentially required that the organisation care for all so that none feels neglected. Similar is the case with government organisations, where, of course, no separate investors are there. Here are some basic points that should be observed in handling and managing stakeholders.

It should be seen by the person at the helm of affiars that the organisation takes an interest in providing the employees with the requisite facilities. Employees should have transportation facilities; organisations should have a daycare centre; and maternity and paternity benefits should be available. On the whole, organisations may practise having a good work culture so that all are enthused to work. Work culture may cover an up-gradation in time or incentivize people to gain motivation on a large scale. The organisation should see good governance and best practises with employees at work. Leaders are therefore the agents of change on behalf of the organisation to manage the employees to the best of their ability.

Shareholders like to see that the company is on the way to profit with all legalities and ethics. Only such companies can raise shares in the open market with the least amount of advertising or promotional activity. Investors like to invest in such companies. Creditors never hesitate to supply on credit with the trust that their payment will never be blocked, as the organisation is on the way of developing financially and ethically.

Corporate social responsibility of business is the acceptable ideology of the organisations, under which the organisations go for investing funds for the development of the nearby society. It may cover developing schools for the children of the inhabitants of the nearby and adjoining localities, taking up the development of roads and bridges, ponds/pools or developing market facilities. These involve cost and no profit, with the specific aim of developing the people staying nearby. The long term objective of the investment may enable the organisation to get easy manpower without any complications. Maintaining crèches on the organization’s campus may enable the stress free engagement of women employees. In this context, one can cover theories of corporate social responsibilities. Shareholder’s theory, which came in 1970, gives importance to the interests of the shareholders. Next came the Stakeholder’s Theory of 1984, which mainly covers the three “p”s (people, profit and plan). One leader acts in the interest of people, in the interest of the organization and with an organised and unending plan of action in mind. The leader is duty bound to watch that courteous service is offered to all constituting the organisation’s culture and such a climate should prevail.

A successful team leader should see that prompt and due attention is there for the people around him/her. They may be the colleagues, the bosses or any outsider coming to the organisation to carry out their work. Motivating people to act in the interest of the organisation is a strategy that all leaders should possess. People are undoubtedly the force and they should be handled carefully and tactfully to bring all round effectiveness and efficiency to any organisation.

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