Improving Your Leadership Skills

The role of leadership and supervision in American business is gaining increasing recognition. Just as society looks for a leader to define its purpose and lead it forward, business is concerned with the selection and development of people who can successfully invent, make, sell and provide services to set their enterprise apart from its competition and solve the many perplexing problems that confront them.

Management techniques of the last several decades -- management by objectives, diversification, zero-based budgeting, value chain analysis, decentralization, centralization, quality circles, restructuring, management by "walking around" etc. -- have not had the significant, long lasting affect that some of the tried and true, but often forgotten, strategies of supervision can offer.

One fundamental change in the strategy of managing in today's environment is the concept of coaching rather than managing. Many businesses have rightly redesigned their work flow around processes. These processes enable the creation of process teams, in other words, a person or group responsible for an entire business process. Team supervision, commonly referred to as coaching, demands more education than training. The difference is execution. Training generally implies learning the skills necessary to perform a particular function. Training someone in the art of collections becomes very focused on that function. However, education expands the scope of the collection function to understand the role of cash flow to the business, the impact on sales and marketing, and the relationship of collection to the credit extension philosophy. Training teaches skills, education teaches the job.

There are several strategies found useful in the art of successful leadership and supervision.

Self Esteem
When you make someone feel important, you gain their willingness to work for you.

Here are some techniques to improve self esteem:

Become a Good Listener
Generally people do not know how to be good listeners. People usually only remember about half of the information they are told. Below are some points on becoming a good listener.

Planning is one of the key management tools. Certainly all of our companies have short, and long range plans. Through planning, we decide a course of action to achieve goals and accomplish objectives. Planning prepares us for how to perform in the event certain things happen.

People at all levels must feel they are needed. You cannot motivate a person if they do not feel essential to the process.

Ways to make a person feel needed:

Communication is the key to motivating. Listening (see prior note) is an important factor.

Show enthusiasm about your work and that will help to set a work ethic thus motivating others.

Set goals for those you supervise. Also, help them achieve the goals by giving them the opportunity to get things done. Do not set unrealistic goals.

The art of dealing with people when they fail to do their job or they behave abnormally. The better you know an individual, the better job you can do of disciplining him. With some people, you need to be firm, or even demanding. Others, just a hint of a suggestion for change is all that is necessary. Here are a few strategies on making one of the most distasteful acts of supervision a little more palatable:

Handling Personality Problems--a very touchy situation.

Here are some things to do and not to do when dealing with such situations:

Remember, misery loves not become entangled in the problem

A skill that really requires disciplining yourself that will in turn allow you to supervise better.

How to make your job easier.

If the answer to most of these questions is "yes," then maybe you have not yet adopted one of the KEY skills of managing, the art of delegation. This is particularly important if you have hopes of moving up in the organization. Your skill in delegating could be a major factor in deciding whether you can handle greater responsibilities and a greater job.

A SUCCESSFUL LEADER gets things done through others.

Unfounded reasons for this are:

Remember it is to your credit and it exhibits confidence in your skills as a supervisor to place competent people around you. Delegation is a requisite of good supervision. It supports trust and confidence in those you supervise and enables them to handle the tasks that will free you to do more important work.

Here are some suggestions for making delegation successful:

  1. Understand the purpose of delegating. You have three basic objectives in delegating:
    1. Get the job done.
    2. Free yourself for other work.
    3. Have your "team" benefit by learning and experiencing what you have been doing.
  2. Decide specifically what you can delegate. Generally delegate as much of your work as possible. Do yourself only what no one else can do.
  3. Recognize that subordinates will make mistakes. Make sure they understand what they are to do. Be willing to take blame for mistakes that may be made.
  4. Clarify what you are delegating. Agree on what the task is and how much "power" you are delegating to them to perform a particular job. Also, let others know of the arrangements so that proper cooperation will be extended to get the job done.
  5. Most important, follow-up. Remember that although you have delegated responsibility and empowered others to get the job done, you still have the final accountability for the job. Ask your team for progress reports or discuss with them from time to time.

This newer strategy may in-fact be the culmination of all the points above. Simply put, empowerment is delegation taken a step farther. In delegation, the supervisor is not only accountable for the results, but also assumes some responsibility since in most cases the delegated tasks most often are the job of the supervisor. Empowerment is the total, unmistakable passing on of responsibility to a person or team to accomplish a job or perform a process. As coach or supervisor, you maintain accountability for the overall outcome or results of the process.

Empowerment brings with it a challenge for the organization to provide state-of-the-art systems, education, tools and most importantly support to the team for maximum performance. Applying empowerment frequently shifts ownership of a function or process from a traditional supervisor to a group, and with that ownership transfer; pride, job satisfaction, motivation and creativity develop.


A supervisor or coach who loses contact with her team or group will fail. Therefore, it is important for any supervisor who is a leader to remember that he must maintain close contact with the group if he is to function as a coach or supervisor. Many supervisors fail not because of limitations on their own general ability; but, on their inability to delegate, listen, plan, motivate, discipline, and empower.

Copyright 1999 Credit Research Foundation
All material on this site, CRFONLINE.COM, is created or provided by CREDIT RESEARCH FOUNDATION, including text, graphics, logos, icons, and images, are the property of CREDIT RESEARCH FOUNDATION or its content providers, and are protected by United States and foreign intellectual property laws. The compilation of all the content on this Site is the exclusive property of CREDIT RESEARCH FOUNDATION and is also protected by United States and foreign intellectual property laws. You may download, view, copy, and print the materials on this Site for personal use only, provided that you do not remove or alter any trademark, service mark, or logo, or any copyright or other intellectual property notices. Except as provided above, you may not download, view, copy, print, reproduce, distribute, republish, display, post, transmit, or modify any material, or portion thereof, located on the Site in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of CREDIT RESEARCH FOUNDATION. CREDIT RESEARCH FOUNDATION reserves the right to revoke any of the rights granted in these Terms of Use at any time, and those rights automatically terminate if you violate any of these Terms of Use. Upon revocation or termination of such rights, you must destroy any digital or printed copies obtained from any portion of the Site. Unauthorized use of any material on the Site may violate copyright law, trademark law, and other laws of the United States and other jurisdictions. All rights not expressly granted in these Terms of Use are reserved.
CREDIT RESEARCH FOUNDATION and the CREDIT RESEARCH FOUNDATION logo are the trademarks of CREDIT RESEARCH FOUNDATION. The other trademarks, service marks, and logos used on the Site are trademarks of CREDIT RESEARCH FOUNDATION or others. Nothing on the Site shall be construed as granting, by implication, estoppel, or otherwise, any license or right to use any trademark without the prior written consent of CREDIT RESEARCH FOUNDATION. The designations , , , SM or any other intellectual property symbols reflect registration and/or use in the context of United States laws as they relate to such intellectual property symbols.