Few, if any, are born with leadership skills fully formed. For the rest of us, we need practice.

by Pierre Bernard
Date Published June 19, 2023 - Last Updated February 20, 2024

In my previous article, I covered the following skills: strategic, leadership, team management, problem solving, and communication. Let us revisit the definition of skills, which are defined as “abilities to do an activity or job well, especially because you have practiced it”. In this second article on skills, I will be covering time management, project management, decision making, stress management, and learning skills.

There are many truths and fallacies in books and on the internet about the above five skills. Let us explore the reasons why these five skills are important. Regardless of the path taken above, the following applies. To become as good an SDM as one can be, one requires practicing various skills. I suggest:

Time skills

Unless one possesses a time machine or the gift of ubiquity, one should improve their time management skills. To do so, block time in your busy schedule for tackling various tasks such as reporting, meeting with your personnel on a regular basis, keeping up to date on good practices, learning new things, or taking a break or meal. Stick to your schedule.

I know, all easier said than done. Like anything in life, you need to practice managing your schedule.

What are some of the sub-skills required to better manage your time?

  • Set goals and objectives; prioritize them.
  • Self-motivation, rewarding yourself, being positive.
  • Write things down, take notes.

Project management skills

A leader is not necessarily a manager while a manager is not necessarily a leader. A good summary for a definition of leadership tells us it is a process of influencing people to maximize their efforts towards the achievement of a goal. The line between the two is often blurred. Although we expect senior roles in an organization to lead, some people do not know how to lead. They are simply managers telling people what to do.

According to CIO Magazine2, Being a (good) project manager involves being:

  • A strategic business partner
  • Stakeholder-focused
  • Generous with credit to others
  • A skilled motivator
  • Fully vested in success
  • Accountable and having integrity
  • An effective communicator
  • A well-respected leader
  • An agent of change

Decision making skills

What are the criteria for a good decision? What is the process to make a good decision? Do you always decide alone? Here are some thoughts to ponder.

  • Investigate the situation, gather the data, process the data (crunch the numbers)
  • Analyze the data – various methods for analysis are available.
  • Select the most appropriate solution – remember that doing nothing can be a valid option.
  • Come up with a plan, get it reviewed/validated.
  • Communicate your plan and act (do it!)

There are situations where you will be making individual decisions while in others you will be making group decisions.

Stress management Skills

According to the Mayo Clinic,sStress is an automatic physical, mental, and emotional response to a challenging event. It's a normal part of everyone's life. When used positively, stress can lead to growth, action, and change. But negative, long-term stress can lessen your quality of life.

There are different approaches to dealing with negative stress in one’s life.

  • Remove the source of stress (don’t do anything stupid or illegal here, ok?)
  • Learn and use problem-solving, prioritizing, and time management skills.
  • Learn how to cope with stress. Understand what triggers stress in your life. Stress can lead to mental health issues. Do not be afraid to seek professional medical help.
  • Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, tai chi, exercise, and prayer.
  • Improving your personal/business relationships

Learning skills

Learning is ongoing for you and your personnel. You require a learning plan to further your career as a service desk manager or along your career path, wherever it takes you. The same logic applies to your personnel. You are responsible for their wellbeing. You need to help them develop a learning plan as well - one for their tenure at the service desk, another for their career path.

To me there was nothing better than seeing someone leave the service desk for another department within the organization. I hated to see them leave, but at least their development paid off for the organization.

People learn at different speeds using different methods. Some are more hands-on, some are more visual, while some are more listeners. Try to vary the delivery methods. Use gamification. Assign a one-hour block every week in everyone’s schedule dedicated to learning. Assign a one-hour block every week in everyone’s schedule dedicated to documentation. People will learn something as well as creating a usable document.

Tag(s): supportworld, support models, technology


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