Leadership is a skill that we can learn throughout our lifetime; it never stops. In the same way that other professions require some form of continuous learning, being a professional leader also means that we have to keep an open-mind and a thirst for learning. No one can claim that they already know everything there is to know about it. As people change and as new generations get introduced to the workforce, getting a new perspective in leadership is always a good idea.
For business leaders, the task of leadership becomes extra challenging because of the need to juggle your ability to manage people and company resources. You need a mix of creative leadership as well as adherence to processes and procedures. You also need to be aware of the business, legal, and psychological impacts of your actions.
In this article, we have collated five items that are important lessons for leaders so you may reflect on how you can improve in these different areas regardless of your tenure and experience.
Inspire Teamwork. Effective leaders are not those who always speak in terms “me.” This is not because he avoids using the first-person pronoun when he speaks. Inspiring team work is about influencing people to think in terms of “we” – the team. It is about making the team understand the function that everyone needs to fulfill. When a leader inspires team work, the members do not dodge accountability. They feel answerable to their actions and lack thereof. To achieve this, a leader must be able to give credits to the members for their accomplishments. Leaders who are credit grabbers will never be able to inspire teams. Instead they will breed distrust and resentment among their members.
Build Self-Esteem. As a leader, you set the intensity for your employees’ attitude at work. Employees usually build a positive work attitude when they are happy with what they do. This happiness can be closely associated with their self-esteem. In business, your clients, previous and current employees, competitors, family, and even friends may give you dozens of criticisms. This goes the same to each of your employees. More often than not, criticisms are very stressful to hear. Sam Walton, the founder of Wal Mart says that employees need to have a good self-esteem in order to be effective at work. Constantly criticizing and pointing out their flaws and short-comings is a guaranteed way to lower their morale and performance. Even Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Group of Companies, says that leaders should always “look for the best in people”. This is easier said than done. While it is helpful to provide feedback to employees, make sure that you do not exclusively about short-comings. Little achievements need to be celebrated, too. When you do this, you reciprocate your employees’ trust. When you give trust to your employees, you teach them to have trust in their own abilities, too. This builds their self-esteem and inculcates a sense of “i-can-make-a-difference” in them, allowing them to become more driven and results-oriented.
Encourage Other’s Development. Leaders should aim for their employees’ success. They should encourage them to be the best they can be. True leaders help their direct reports get promoted. Looking out for people’s best interest and growth helps you build a more positive relationship with them. The moment that a leader feels scared that their employees can get better than them is the moment they fail as a leader. True leaders don’t create more followers; they create more leaders. This is because true leaders are hard to find. The more leaders you have in your company, the better equipped your company will be for growth. The more growth your company has, the better opportunities you create for yourself and your employees, too. Employees are like seedlings; it is the leader’s job to nurture them, water them, cultivate them, and watch them grow. As a leader, you need to mentor people: coach them, help them make decisions, allow them to learn from mistakes, guide them to reflect on their actions, and help them celebrate their little successes.
Learn to Effectively Communicate. Needless to say, none of the things a leader must do can be accomplished without communication. Getting people onboard and aligning them to the goals are essential in accomplishing anything. As you go through the journey, you also need to ensure that everyone is in the loop with what is going on. Understanding and discussing your milestones and challenges as a group is truly very crucial. Making everyone understand the big picture also greatly impacts the results of any given task. As a leader, you should allow an avenue for open-communication, sharing of suggestions, and brainstorming. Efficient means of communication using different technologies is a vital part of this process. Sometimes, leaders do not even step out of their comfort zone to adjust to the new workforce. The Millenials and Generation Z workers, a huge part of our workforce now, are fond of technology. As leaders, we should be able to make use of this available means of communications. Using a mode of communication that people understand, people can relate to, and people are passionate about is truly very effective.
Listen. Many leaders claim that they listen, however, they truly don’t. They only listen to respond rather than to understand. As Stephen Covey shared in his book, “Seek first to understand then be understood…” This is a very powerful way of getting the best out of people. Great ideas can come from the most unlikely employees. In order to tap into these, a leader must learn to genuinely listen. If a leader fails to listen, then you will be surrounded by people who have nothing to say. Many experienced leaders feel that there is not much to hear as they think that they have already heard everything. But one thing is sure; there is always room for learning when you listen. Listening builds a good relationship with your employees; it helps them feel empowered and it helps you as the leader become more influential to them.
These five may not be exhaustive of all the important life lessons a leader must learn, but we feel that these are most important. If you are able to learn these lessons, it can truly take you a long way into your leadership journey.
For more information about enriching your leadership stay tuned for more of our articles. You may also attend one of our training or workshop. Please check our calendar for more information. You can also contact us directly.