Leadership Challenges When Managing People


At our Concannon Connection Directors Development Forum in December, we brought together a group of business leaders from a range of sectors including financial services, retail design and manufacturing. I started this forum because I spotted a pool of people who could directly benefit from one another in terms of their knowledge and experience. My aim is to create a space where directors can come together regularly in a confidential setting to discuss the challenges they face and to suggest possible solutions. Our first forum got off to a successful start, and most of our discussions were around people management.


Managing people’s expectations

Whether you’re managing a team or managing upwards, the same challenges tend to face leaders as they move up the ladder or their business grows. As a leader, do you relate to any of these?

  • How do you keep middle managers engaged?

  • How do you influence a team with negative or obstructive attitudes?

  • How do you manage team motivation when someone gets that all-important promotion, and then has to manage the people who applied for the job?

  • How do you prove your worth as a future Managing Director when ‘managing upwards’?

  • How do you manage an organisation’s expectations, especially when a company grows from a small business to a corporate?

Being an effective leader

The above challenges created lively debates around the room, as our directors discussed different ways to overcome these issues. This is a brief summary of their discussions:

  • Be honest and open: by being straight with people, you will gain respect. If you’re dealing with big personalities, create an atmosphere where everyone feels able to talk to you, so you can spot any potential conflict before it happens. Listen to people’s challenges and acknowledge their situation.

  • Be Authentic: always be yourself. If you’ve achieved that sought-after promotion the rest of your team were after, this is especially important. Create a friction-free environment by carefully managing different personalities. If you’re managing middle managers, give them the space they need to think.

  • Be inclusive: by asking people to collaborate and be part of the process, you will create buy in. Allow people to get involved in the problem or challenge - you may find they come up with better ideas. Ask your team “how are we going to achieve this?” Sometimes you will have to let people make their own mistakes, so they can learn from these. If you have a business challenge that’s affecting your team, make people’s problems your problem, but it’s important to focus on doing what you do best.

Directors are Conductors

I use this example a lot with my clients – as a Director, you’re like the Conductor of an orchestra. You should always remain at the front and not playing the instruments. You need to lead, but you also need to gain people’s respect. The only way to do this is by being yourself and having faith in your decisions.

Our Directors Development Forum gave people the space they needed to think strategically about someone else’s business. As well as useful suggestions and ideas, the group were able to give direct feedback on how to deal with a variety of people management situations.

Would you like to come to our Directors Development Forum?

Our monthly Directors Development Forum is a great way to bring together high-level business directors to share valuable insight and best practice. The aim of the forum is to provide guidance, mentoring and support from myself and like-minded people. I want you to leave this forum with inspiring ideas and practical advice, so you can put things into practice after you’ve left the room. We will be hosting several forums throughout 2018, so if you’re a director and you’re interested in coming along, please...

Cherie ConcannonComment