"Leadership matters today more than ever, whether or not you have direct reports at work,” says Linda Mather, president of the Forums Institute of Public Policy on Dorann Avenue.
What’s important to keep in mind is how to be effective as a leader. It takes more than just knowing the job. It takes knowing people.
The whiny professor. Mather remembers a faculty member — Mather has worked at Rowan University and William Paterson College — working under her many years ago. This professor regularly complained to her about certain issues, always in her office. “One day I asked him to walk around the campus with me while he told me about his issues,” she says. “Once I changed the environment I asked him what he wanted me to do. We both realized that he didn’t want us to solve the problem. He wanted to wallow in it. After that the issues never came up again.”
Manage meetings more effectively. Small changes — holding chairless meetings, clarifying agendas, and starting a meeting on time — can have profound effects. One company she knows started using chairless meetings for weekly updates and meeting times dropped from an hour to about 10 minutes.
Proper planning also improves the efficiency of a meeting. “You should ask, ‘What is the purpose of this meeting? Why am I getting people together?’” Mather says. “And you should use a timed agenda. These approaches let you lead a meeting, rather than just host it.”
Is everybody happy? “To lead others you must be happy with your job,” Mather says. You must know what your values system is, and you must make sure it synchs up with your company’s values.”
Mather also encourages leaders to develop a personal action sheet. “People write down the steps they need to move forward, “Mather says. “Don’t just say you need to communicate better, say what steps you’ll take to do so.”
Excerpted from the September 17, 2008, issue of U.S. 1.