by Samantha Potter
Have you ever had a boss that you absolutely despised?
Someone unorganized, impatient, and short-sighted?
Didn’t make you enjoy your job, did it?
A quality leader can make or break any business or project. As the boss, you are the face of the team. What your team does reflects on you, and vice-versa. If you’re unorganized, or don’t know your crew, or have no goals, how can you expect to lead anyone anywhere? A leader needs to have many positive qualities in order to be successful.
Get to Know Your People
You don’t need to remember your technician’s great-aunt’s birthday to know them. Learn their strengths, weaknesses, what they enjoy about work and what they don’t, who they work well with, etc. It also doesn’t hurt to get to know them outside of work-themed bullet points. Are they married? Do they have kids? What do they like to do outside of work? Get to know them as human beings, instead of just employees or teammates.
Some of my worst managers knew a lot about me personally but nothing about me professionally, so they didn’t place me where I needed to be. Others were familiar with me professionally but not personally, so they weren’t sympathetic to anything that may have been happening outside of work. Find a balance. You don’t have to be best friends, but you should at the very least acquaint yourself with them on a basic level.
An important part of any job is growth opportunity. Without growth we are stagnant and begin to lose interest in learning. When I stop learning, I get bored and enthusiasm dies, which causes my performance to suffer. Even if you aren’t 100% comfortable letting them do something, let them do it. Watch over them, supervise, make sure they don’t destroy something or kill someone, but let them dive in. Sometimes, being thrown to the wolves is how some of the most valuable learning happens.
Personally, I love being pushed past where I thought I could go. I find this idea especially important for young women because we so often tell ourselves we aren’t good enough or aren’t ready for something when we are. Each person deserves to learn and grow as a human and as a fellow worker in the industry. With that being said, it’s a fine line between pushing them to succeed and pushing them right off the cliff. If you place your team members in situations they can succeed in, not places they’re bound to fail in, you have that much less to worry about.
Like all relationships, communication is key. I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t efficiently communicate with your team, your leadership means nothing. Part of communicating well has to do with knowing your team, as we discussed before. Some people respond well to straightforward directions (i.e. “go there,” “do this,” “do NOT do that”). Other people need a little bit of an explanation (i.e., “go there because”, “do this while”, “this causes that”). Some people work in an entirely different way. You should know how each of your team member’s understands tasks best. I can tell some of my team members a very general idea of what I need to be done and they can fully transition that into a finished task. Some of my other team members need an exact list of every single thing that needs to be done to finish satisfactorily.
Another part of communicating well is listening. Communication is a two-way street, you know! Make sure that you hear your crew, and that they know you are hearing them. I ensure that everyone is comfortable coming to me and asking a question or asking for advice. I would much rather answer the same question 10 times than have someone go in confused or accidently irreparably damage something. If a crew member needs to know something, or they’ve got a problem with a co-worker, or an outside client is acting disrespectfully, I want to know. We can’t fix or address what we don’t know. Open communication lines.
Next blog will continue part two of this series on how to be an effective leader!
Samantha is an IT Media Supervisor and Audio Engineer for the largest Methodist Church in the US and a Production Manager for Funk Syndicate located in Kansas City. Working closely with IT, Producers, Coordinators, and Musicians, Samantha oversees audio and other media technology while mentoring and training women in STEM fields. Additionally, Samantha is the Chapter Head of the SoundGirls KC Chapter.