Effective leadership: how to get the best out of Co-workers - JPS Africa
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Effective leadership: how to get the best out of Co-workers

Are you grappling with team members or co-workers that consistently ignore reasonable instructions?  Miss deadlines? Take credit for work you have done? Act like a know-it-all? Constantly criticising? Blaming other for things that go wrong?

How we lead our teams contributes to program and organisational success. Involving co-workers is critical to get buy-in and cooperation. In a team setting, people are encouraged to give ideas and make decisions.  This means more decision making power must move down from the leader to the co-workers. When this is carried over to the program team, this means the leader must create decision makers, not order takers. This calls for supportive supervision, transferring of skills and succession planning within teams.

The core emotional need of people is to feel valued and valuable. When we feel devalued it is easy to assume the role of victim and blaming others for inadequate program performance as a form of self-protection. Offloading responsibility makes us feel better in the short term. Whilst acting the victim, the leader cedes the power to influence the co-workers while leading the team. Unfortunately as a leader it is easier to change yourself than try and change others. The bottom line – start with YOU.  We see the world through our lens with a selective filter (lens of realistic optimism). When using this lens ask yourself the following questions: 1) What are the facts about the situation? 2) What is my explanation to self about the situation? This will allow you to look at your experience from another angle rather than just reacting to it. Fortunately we have the power to view the world of work through other lenses. How do my colleagues view me as a leader? The reverse lens refers to viewing the world thought the eyes of others, not sacrificing your view point but rather widening your perspective. Ask yourself: What is my responsibility in this situation? Emphasising with others is a way of appreciating the perspective of others and at the same time reclaiming your power. Finally you can use the long lens to look beyond the current situation and see the bigger picture. Ask yourself: How can I grow and learn from this situation?  How can using different lenses to assess a situation contribute to co-worker cooperation and successful program implementation?

As a leader, start by creating an atmosphere of trust. Co-workers feel trust and support while implementing and executing programs. Trust and respect cannot be demanded as some managers mistakenly think. Trust is earned and respect commanded not demanded. Co-workers must be treated in a respectful manner. Co-workers who are treated badly will unlikely be supportive and cooperative. Avoid and discourage putting staff down and reprimand without adequate guidance. These kill trust and cause people to reject leadership. People can handle mistakes or even failure, but they cannot handle disrespect. Communication is key and there must be a willingness to talk about whatever is needed to drive program success.

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