Supervisory Leadership

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The Five Jobs Every Leader Must Do

When you’re responsible for the performance of a group you have five basic jobs that you have to perform. For each one, you’re going to have to master the basic toolkit, and then learn the specific tools and techniques that you’ll need for the exact situation you find yourself in. Here are what those five jobs are.

You have to make sure that today's work gets done

The daily work of the organization needs to get done both effectively and efficiently. To do it effectively means making sure that the most important things get done. It means establishing priorities, setting up systems, and concentrating effort so that organizational goals and objectives are achieved.

Getting today’s job done also means paying attention to efficiency. For most of us that means putting systems in place to get the maximum amount of output for the minimum amount of input, or that accomplish tasks as rapidly as possible while achieving appropriate levels of quality.

You have to make sure that tomorrow's job will get done

It's not enough to get today's work done, you're responsible for making sure that tomorrow's job gets done, as well. The two major components of this job are: planning; and training and development.

Your job includes planning for the future. That, in turn, involves getting some ideas about what sort of issues and problems the future will present and then devising ways to recognize them and deal with them..

You're also responsible for training and development of the people who work for you. You may do some of that through work assignments or individual counseling. In some leadership positions you would do this job by setting up training and development systems.

You have to handle critical incidents as they occur

Critical incidents are low frequency/high impact events. They don't happen often, but they have large potential impact when they do.

To do this job well, you need, first, to identify what kinds of situations might be critical incidents for you. Then determine how you'll recognize them or prevent them, and develop a plan for how to deal with them.

You have to do performance interviews

Performance Interviews are contacts with folks who work for you where you have an objective of changing their performance. Most of them are short, informal and single purpose. The book, The One Minute Manager, dealt with that kind of Performance Interivew.

The farther you move up the organizational chain, the more you will work on this indirectly. You'll still do direct Performance Interviews with some folks, but most of your leadership time on this job will be involved in setting up systems and culture so folks down the chain from you can do Performance Interviews effectively.

You have to create a great working environment

A great working environment is one where the mission is accomplished and morale is high. Great working environments have the following characteristics when viewed from the worker's perspective.

  • Interesting and meaningful work
  • Clear and reasonable expectations
  • Regular and usable feedback
  • Fairness
  • Consistency
  • Maximum control possible over work life.

All five of these jobs become your job when you become responsible for the performance of a group. The context will vary with organization and position. So will the various tools you'll use to do the work.

Created/Revised/Reviewed: 12/31/00


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