How can you be the best leader for your team? Being a leader is like rolling a therapist, motivational speaker, and insomniac business driven person all into one. Not only do leaders need to be thinking about the business, they need to be thinking about their people. Leadership today demands flexibility and giving more to the company than you likely give to your family. This can be a challenging place even if you are a natural born leader.
Leadership trainings, tests, predictors, and tests are eveywhere. Depending on the company and culture differences effective leadership qualities vary. I’ve worked for many different leaders and I have been fortunate enough to be trusted to lead. I have made many mistakes through my years of experience and the following ten traits are what I’ve found to be the most valuable. Here are the top 7 things I have learned make great leadership as both an employee and a leader.
Fear. Leading with fear is bad anyway you look at it. I once had a leader who frequently slammed his fist on desks and exclaimed, “what the f*#& is this?” His excuse was being transferred from leading on the construction site to the office. That excuse just made him look like an idiot, like he can’t function indoors. It was also a poor excuse. Leading with fear is not effective, in any work environment. It made me want to immediately go to HR and say “what the f*#& is up with him?!!” This type of leadership just made him a lot of enemies and , quick.
Confidence. Not only is leading with fear is detremental but being a fearful leader is leadership suicide. As a leader it is critical you are able to confidently stand up for your staff and for your beliefs. Don’t confuse confidence with cockyness as these are two very different things but they can feel similar. A good indicator of confidence is your team asks questions, and for clarification. If a team is engaging in the conversation and clarifying your goals then you are acting with confidence. If your team appears closed off and unresceptive you may be pain old cockey.
Non-threatening. People don’t want to work for a dictator, czar or any other type of tyrant. Gone are the days of jumping through hoops because of your bosses demands. Employees have options, choices and a variety of opportunities. If they fheel threatened they will leave. A way to gauge this indicator is through turnover and retention but if you’d like to know before it’s too late you should be conducting regular conversations with your employees. Remember, perception is the name of the game. You might not be threatening in any way shape or form but if there is a perception of a threat that’s an issue. Check in with yourself frequently to make sure your expectations are aligned with what is happening among the team. If someone is consistantly staying late or working long hours make sure their workload is right, ask if there is something you can to do help and if they do bring up a problem ask probing questions to help work them through it. Often times employees are overwhelmed with work when it really isn’t the work at all. They could be going through something stressful at home that is creating undo stress at work. Talk to you associates, the more you know, the more you help.
Visionary. A team is only as good as the vision of it’s leader. One of the reasons you likely are a leader is because of your visionary abilities. A visionary is someone who can not only see the end result but also allow those who know the work to accomplish the big picture. If this does not come naturally, figure out how to develop it. Without an end result, a final vision, your team is lost. Example: Let’s say a leader has a vision to grow sales by 30%. With stretched staff and a tight budget how could she possibly expect sales to grow by 30%? If you let your people find the way it will happen. Believe in them, inspire them, tell them you have faith in them. Great leaders inspire staff to stretch beyond their wildest dreams.
Engage your team. Let your team work out the details and create a plan. As a leader you have the responsibility for the end result. You don’t however have to lay out the details, that’s what the team members are for, that’s what they know.
Recognize accomplishments. Most leaders stink at recognition. It’s hard for Senior Leadership put a monitary value on recognition which makes it difficult to see the business value. Metrics around recruiting and cost to fill are helpful in these situations.
Value employees time. I’ve experienced companies who have a ego’s the size of their parking lots. Employer entitlement is just as futile as employee entitlement. An ethical organization wouldn’t allow an employee to steal from them, why shouldn’t employers be held to the same expectations? Employee’s assetts are the time and value they bring to the company. I once had a leader who insisted I work a minimum of 50 hours per week, despite my workload only filling about 40 hours per week. The company in exchange gives the employees money and benefits. Recognizing employees accomplishments is an investment in your workforce.