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Leadership Skills You Need to Learn Fast to take the lead in 2022

Venkat  Rajaraman's picture
Founder and CEO Cygni Energy

A seasoned business leader with over 30 years of work experience, Venkat Rajaraman is the Founder/ CEO of Cygni, a next-generation energy storage company that defines the future of energy storage...

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  • Feb 3, 2022
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The leadership skills that we need to learn to take the lead in 2022 are a) Building Leadership Resilience b) Commitment to a cause c) Cultivate Relationship and d) Learn to delegate effectively.  Let me try to take you through each of these below:

Building Leadership Resilience.  There is a broad spectrum between leading versus Managing.  Some people default to empowerment side, some people default to the directive side.  Good manager has to traverse this spectrum.  Some people work well if given the right directions.  Some people work best if you just show them the goal and empower them.  Typically, the more you grow in your career, the more you grow as a person, you can move from taking directions to taking empowerment.  For the younger folks in the team, who are inexperienced, just empowering them won’t do.  As they don’t have all the skills, experience, tool set, delivery understanding etc., empowering them won’t help.  As a good manager, you need to decide if you need to empower or if you need to be more directive. Finally, some people, by nature, default to one side or the other.  Too much on either side is not good.   Life is all about balance.

Commitment to a cause:  Commitment at work translates to commitment to a cause, commitment to a goal.  Commitment and accountability go hand-in-hand.  We spend a lot of time focusing on how to make people more accountable, whereas the actual missing ingredient is the commitment.  Every company has a commitment / accountability issue, even some best managed companies have this issue.   Here are 3 quick steps to improve the commitment:

  1. Commitment starts in the heart.  Commitment always precedes achievement.  They say in a marathon run, the winner runs out of oxygen in the last 3-5 miles.  The last leg of the run is purely happening in the heart.  The winners are committed to their goals with their heart.
  2. Commitment is tested in action.  Only real measure of commitment is action.  Nothing is easier than words, and nothing is harder than living the commitment day-after-day. Following through on the commitment is generally tough.  So measure your commitment level.  Take out your calendar.  See how you spend your time.  How much you spend on your commitment - be it your passion.  Health.  Recreation etc.  The true measure of your commitment is the time you are spending on the cause. 
  3. Third step is popularized by Dr Thomas Alva Edison and hence called Edison method.  Dr Edison, whenever he had a good idea, he would call for a press conference to announce it.  Then afterwards, he would go into the lab and actually invent it.  In the same way, tell everyone about your commitment and your friends and colleagues would hold you accountable.

Cultivate Relationships:  Relationships at work is a two-way street.  If you have a relationship problem with your colleague for any reason, first recognize this as your problem.  Second try to reframe the dislike - try to quantify what exactly is the reason for your dislike, is it their behavior, is it the way they speak, is it how they deal with other people etc.  This will help to narrow down your judgement.  Third is to identify why it is important to work with that colleague.  This could be a joint responsibility that the management might have given or this could be the reward of completing this joint project together which would help grow your career etc.  Fourth is to share the purpose statement and have a clear understanding on your responsibility with your colleague.  Fifth is anytime dislike starts to crop its ugly head up, refer to the purpose statement above, as to why this relationship is significant in the first place. 

Delegation:  There are two types of delegations - one is Abdication and the other is Micro-management.  Both are not effective.  The common fears about delegation are loss of control for the manager, perfectionism in the task, fear of failure, desire to be liked and hence don’t want to be delegated, excess Time to complete the job if delegated and bad experiences in the past.

Key to effective delegation are:

  • Shift your mindset - deeply believe delegation is about empowerment and frame it to others as such.  Take ownership to change your bad habits - over-functioning creates an unhealthy dynamic that allows your team and colleagues to under function. Don’t ask for feedback every few hours.  Set-up a mutually agreed timeline by when you will get an update
  • Start small - Team can build competency that they can master (and make you happy as a result)
  • Train efficiently - train people in real-time while you work on the task.  Create a standard operating procedure based on the steps you follow.
  • Build in checkpoints.  Don’t delegate aggressively.  But do this assertively. As a partnership and collaboration balanced with clear direction
  • Figure out what needs to go - Delegates the tasks that are a) administrative b) Repeatable process c) Tasks that someone else has special skill set for.  Don’t delegate everything.  As a manager, you are responsible for certain delivery.  Don’t delegate that.  
  • Invite people into the process by first understanding what work they enjoy doing and how they’re motivated to grow. This helps you match tasks to a person’s strengths. Also, consider asking your team to propose ideas of what they can take off your plate.

In order to delegate effectively,  your job is to define the “what” and “why” of the project. Both the outcome or deliverable (what) and purpose, intent, or context as to why it matters (why) are important.  Give the person full authority to define the “how.”  It is influential that your team or colleague feel the ownership and autonomy.  They need to discover the best way to follow through for themselves.  Then it becomes effective delegation. 

 

 

Venkat  Rajaraman's picture
Thank Venkat for the Post!
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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 3, 2022
  • Shift your mindset - deeply believe delegation is about empowerment and frame it to others as such.  Take ownership to change your bad habits - over-functioning creates an unhealthy dynamic that allows your team and colleagues to under function. Don’t ask for feedback every few hours.  Set-up a mutually agreed timeline by when you will get an update

This is so key and underappreciated too often. What about the other side of the perspective-- for those employees who feel the delegation to them isn't being done in that empowered way, how do you recommend they approach the situation? 

on Apr 14, 2022

This needs an elaborate answer (the approach from an employees side).  Maybe I will write about this in a subsequent article.  

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Paul Korzeniowski on Mar 8, 2022

Good points about heart being needed. Employees watch what managers do. They can tell if the person is truly invested or just going through the motions.  If the leaders are not invested, why should the employees? 

on Apr 14, 2022

Absolutely.  Most of the good leaders, lead from their heart.  

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