Developing your people management skills
People are at the heart of organisational life. Leading them is a complex and challenging process, but there are many tools, techniques and practices you can use to develop your people management and leadership skills.
Top 14 ways
1. Focus on your credibility and manage the impression you create with others.
This is particularly important within closely integrated societies such as the UAE. It is especially true for nationals, who are inherently part of the social fabric and network of societal, family and business relationships. However, reputation remains important for expats – they need to be credible to succeed in the country.
2. Take control by creating a career plan.
Doing this will help you make informed decisions along the way. The rapid growth and diversification of the UAE and wider Middle East brings an increasing range of career opportunities, heightening the importance of effective planning to leverage this unique period of opportunities.
3. Develop resilience to cope effectively with setbacks, day-to-day challenges and expectations.
Rapid growth, ambitious aspirations and high levels of national diversity within the workforce can create environments of heightened uncertainty, flux and stress, where an understanding of and building your own resilience can be the key factor in sustaining success in the UAE and region.
4. Practise the art of coaching your people.
Helping others to learn, grow and progress is one of the most rewarding roles you have as a leader or manager. This is essential in the context of localisation, where on-the-job development is important, and with the expanding demographic of Generation Y, which values a coaching style of leadership.
5. Practise influencing without using formal authority.
Persuading and convincing others to buy into your ideas will help build your reputation and credibility as a leader. The limits of formal authority are well known, with leaders being only truly validated by willing followers. This makes influencing a critical capability. It is becoming more important in project-based organisations and with Generation Y, who are more responsive and engaged through influence rather than being directed.
6. Use good facilitation skills.
Similarly to influencing, as a leader in the Middle East today you must be able to effectively engage others through effective facilitation processes which give access to your thoughts, ideas and perspectives. This allows you to get necessary buy-in and contribution to increasingly complex challenges.
7. Know what motivates and demotivates you and your team members.
Create a working environment that enables people to feel empowered and motivated. This can be very challenging for leaders in the UAE and other regional markets, as you might be working with a diverse range of nationalities with very divergent needs and motivations.
8. Be clear about the performance you expect from others and ensure you know what is expected of you.
Clarity about goals and objectives is crucial – if you don’t know what you are aiming for, how will you know when you have achieved success? A key part of effective performance management is gathering feedback, which is something thousands of global leaders tell us is significantly lacking. This is further exacerbated within regional cultures, where the preservation of a quality relationship can be valued over tackling a difficult performance issue.
9. Understand how to deal with conflict and confrontation and learn how to leverage these.
Innovation is essential for enhancing public sector services and private sector competitiveness in the UAE. The conflict that arises from different perspectives and views is a key part of the process.
10. Understand the components of relational intelligence and develop your skill in these areas.
Effective relationships are an important currency for successful teams and organisations. This is especially true in the UAE where relationships are highly valued and little is achieved without them.
11. Recognise that people often resist change for personal, emotional and psychological reasons.
Develop methodologies for dealing with the inevitable change that is part of today’s business life. The UAE’s ambitious vision requires leaders to be highly ‘change literate’ and to guide their organisations and people through a process of continuous change.
12. Be aware of potential derailers.
Derailment is getting knocked off course or not achieving what you and others expected. You need to be on the lookout for this at every stage of your career and help your team to understand what might go wrong for them.
A lot of leaders’ careers derail because they lack awareness of the changing capabilities required at different stages of their careers. In the UAE, where leaders are sometimes accelerated into senior positions faster than their global counterparts are, they must be especially aware of this.
13. Be appreciative – remember to look for the positive.
Show your appreciation to others and thank them for their contributions – this common courtesy will go far in building your reputation as a leader. Appreciation generates positive energy, engagement and momentum, which is essential for successful UAE and regional organisations. It is also highly valued by Generation Y, who respond best to optimistic environments.
14. Develop an understanding of psychology.
Combine this with a great deal of humility, flexibility and resilience. No one says it will be easy – but it’s one of the most interesting journeys you can take.
Rory Hendrikz, director, Ashridge Middle East
Ashridge has been delivering corporate education solutions in the Middle East for the past 20 years.