Leadership skills are a must regardless of whether you are a businessperson or in the service field. It takes skill, dedication, passion and perseverance to become an able leader. While it isn’t easy to hone oneself into becoming an effective authority figure, it certainly isn’t impossible either.
We all have different ideas on what makes a strong leader, but there are a few common traits some of the most successful trailblazers share: these include adaptability, approachability, diligence, and most important of all – motivation. In order to make these characteristics second nature, there are certain strategies you should implement in your professional life. These include:
1. Being versatile in choosing a leadership style: The best leaders are those who can take on a different approach depending on the situation or needs at hand. There are times you may need to be authoritative, while other instances would require you to be more democratic and adopt a ‘laissez-faire’ (hands off) approach. Having a keen insight into the matter at hand and being perceptive about the outcome will help you go a long way in leading people the right way at a given moment.
Pacesetting leaders are great if they lead a workforce which is already motivated. Visionaries who rely on mentorship are a boon when employees need positive enforcement after a particular setback. A coercive approach works well in times of crisis while a democratic style encourages all-around participation and consensus building.
2. Being transparent: The importance of integrity can never be undermined when it comes to effective people management. If your employees view you as unscrupulous or dishonest, they will not be motivated enough – and worse, they won’t feel like a part of the company. This will only hamper productivity and make people resent you. An honest leader is a respected leader, and a respected leader is an inspiration to many. Last but not the least, not having anything to hide from your workforce will help you sleep better at night.
3. Accepting responsibility: Failure is a given in everyone’s life, and there is bound to be a time when some things won’t go as planned. It can be shelved project, a poor organizational decision or a deal gone awry. Whatever be the issue, take responsibility for your own shortcomings. No leader wants to hear excuses from his or her employees and it’s only fair that you apply the same yardstick to yourself. When you admit you’ve made a mistake or hold yourself accountable for a failure, your employees will hold you in high esteem and be even more inspired to work for someone who has a spine.
4. Being a good listener: You may have stellar oratory skills, but they will do little to drive people to succeed if you aren’t a good listener. The best leaders are those who give employees a platform for their queries, doubts and concerns. Keeping all lines of communication open between you and your team/s will make them feel like they are important enough to make contributions in some way. Democratic leaders may have the final say in decision-making, but they also inspire people to be more industrious, loyal, and solve problems creatively by encouraging an active involvement in company affairs.
5. Rewarding good performance: Recognizing and rewarding achievements is one of the best ways to ensure employee retention and work satisfaction. Being gracious enough to thank people who put in a good effort can work wonders for their self-confidence and drive them to reach their fullest potential. A happy workforce is a stable workforce, so do your bit to appraise employees in writing and offer incentives. All employees like feeling appreciated, so drop in more than a cursory ‘thank you’ or ‘good job’ if someone has burned the midnight oil to complete a specific task.
6. Staying organized: No one respects a leader who (a) creates chaos and confusion in the workforce, and (b) has no backup plan in place. It is imperative to keep things structured and organized to ensure a calm working environment for everybody. All important information must be documented, and such responsibilities and duties must be delegated to the right people to ensure that things run smoothly in the long haul.
Having a Plan B in case a particular strategy doesn’t work also cements the faith people have in a leader. It gives them the impression that it isn’t impossible to bounce back from a temporary impediment.
7. Not being a control freak: It is a misconception that leadership and being controlling go hand in hand. It is possible to remain orderly and expect the same of people without being overbearing. Those who exercise overt control only end up hindering employee potential, creativity and talent. They have a tendency to create bottlenecks and come across as insensitive and totalitarian. This, in turn, leads to a stressed and fear-filled atmosphere. You can’t expect teams to give their best in such an environment, so have an open mind and remember that you must treat people the way you want to be treated.
Think of the office as a community rather than a factory where people are machines who get jobs done. Focus on serving your employees instead of merely viewing your position as one of power.
Don’t forget to indulge in a little me-time and talk your teams into doing the same. Encourage and partake in extracurricular activities in your office by joining a company sports or quiz team. Indulging in a hobby and identifying the talents of your workforce can help fortify employer-employee bonds. Letting people have some fun every now and then can relieve them of any work-related stress and allow them to get to know each other better.
All in all, a good leader is someone who wins over the trust of the entire organization- right from the janitor to top level managers. The key is to be authentic and use your position to work for the betterment of the workforce and the community at large.