Leader – as the title suggests – is someone who occupies a dominant position in an organization or in a group and ensures that tasks are completed in a specific duration of time. However, this only suggests what a leader does, not how great leadership can be. Even Steve Jobs once said, “Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by team of people.” As the third president of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki says, “Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed.” Even in the most successful start-ups that have evolved into larger organizations, the credit to success has been attributed to decision-making leaders who took the initiative of passing responsibilities to the junior employees, believing, and guiding them from start to finish.
Leadership qualities can be acquired by following simple practices. Take note of these guidelines, inspire those around you and refine your leadership qualities.
Learn to manage your emotions
A client has complained about a major technical flaw in a big-budget project, and you are boiling with anger because all hard work has gone in vain. Stop and think before venting it out at anyone. Negative energy would do nothing but more harm and cause a further mess. True, it’s difficult to stay optimistic when monetary losses are involved, but maintaining a positive atmosphere and thinking of ways to tackle the problem would help in resolving the issue quickly.
Develop leadership abilities
A good leader has critical-thinking skills and the ability to think out-of-the-box for every minor problem. When things do not go well, they take the reins into their hands and control the situation. A leader is known to be a conflict resolver who addresses any issue creatively with a plan B rather than wailing about how things have gone wrong. The task of an effective leader is to take their people from a place where they are to higher ground.
Be an excellent communicator
A person who aspires to be a leader, must not only exhibit good orator skills but also be a great listener. Half of problems are solved when you give an ear to what the other person is saying. Therefore, while polishing your communication skills, learn to be a good listener as when you take an effort to hear what others are talking about, you might learn something new.
Accept your failures
You made a grave mistake. Accept it. It takes guts to admit that something went wrong and when you confidently accept a blunder you made, people will admire you more. Hiding face just because you are afraid to face the consequences is not what great leaders do.
Spot extraordinary talent
The ability to recognize positive traits in people and tapping talent are important skills to develop. Hence, the next time your boss delegates a task to the team, you would be in total control and distribute sections to individuals as per their prowess. This shows you have the vision and can spot the best people for the job.
Be a Team Player
A leader is not someone who stands two feet far from the team to show off his position, but the one who is actively involved in all decisions and tasks carried out by them. Value transparency, practice humility and be willing to roll up your sleeves if the situation arises.
Criticize less, appreciate more
Showing appreciation even for the smallest achievement can boost the confidence of a team and compel them to make extra efforts to achieve something beyond the target. A good leader knows the power of praise and does not take all credits to himself.
Become a mentor, not dictator
When you take the role of a leader, it is expected that you have a clear vision and an idea about the bigger picture. As a result, you would expect the team to follow instructions to achieve goals. Leaders who have become an influencer, and not someone who demonstrated authoritative powers are known to make a greater impact.
Invest in people
The heart of any organization is its people. If the employees feel it is a toxic workplace and there is no scope for career growth, chances are the best performers would start looking for alternative too soon. A leader must be aware of what is troubling his team members and take steps to create a positive environment. Before you take responsibilities of the new position, put in efforts to make them happy, give appropriate training and make them understand what needs to be done.
Be flexible – value freedom
When you have entrusted the people in your team with their respective tasks, believe in them and leave them to do their job. It’s not necessary to keep hovering around their desks to see what they are up to and whether they are working on their assignments or not. A good leader understands the importance of freedom and is willing to adjust if the task is taking more time to get completed.
Applaud and celebrate!
Celebrate every small milestone no matter how minute the triumph might be. When a leader freely praises a team member, it not only motivates others in the team to do well but also encourages them to give excellent results. On the other hand, when it comes to giving a negative feedback for a particular employee, doing it in private is the best option so they do not feel like they are being berated in front of the entire staff.
Gel well with your team
Caring about the employees in your team, having their back in critical situations, counting on them or doing the best for them are all traits of a good leader. You might share a great rapport with colleagues who are in your circle, but at the same time, it is necessary to build a good bond with every person. It does not mean you should know all details, but a leader who is willing to go into the trenches will only be able to lead from the front.
Open the doors of your cabin for all
In layman terms, be approachable. When you give the workers a chance to walk up to your room and talk about anything that is bothering him/her or is beneficial for the company, it gives a sense of satisfaction that their voices do matter. Coming early to the office to get your work done and then assisting others with the problems is a win-win situation. It shows that the leader is easily accessible, and follows talk the talk and walk the walk philosophy.
Give a second chance!
Transparency and reporting the problems faced make finding solutions much easier. Instead of blaming and pointing a finger at the employee who completely messed up a vital part of a project, give them one more chance. Negative perspectives usually come to the forefront either because of mis-communications or because people in the workplace are experts in giving their opinion which may not reflect reality. Rather than going by the word of mouth, first try to get to the root of the situation and then take a decision.
Never try to micromanage
You want to be a leader and not a controller with a remote who dominates every action of your team. Not only you will be despised for being authoritative, but also employees would loath you for being too bossy. Giving team members freedom to carry out tasks at their own will bring out the best in them as well as highlight their talent on a premium level.
Give importance to recreation
Work is tiring and there will be days when the entire team is hooked on a project trying to identify that minor bug which is causing a problem. When you successfully locate it and resolve the issue, not only is it a hurrah moment, but it also calls for some time off. With the workplace environment dynamically evolving, you should understand the importance of fun in office. It could be a recreational activity on the firm’s premises or visiting an establishment nearby.
Turn the gifts of your people into profits
A good leader acknowledges individual strengths and utilizes them into business. If you want to be remembered for effective leadership qualities, take efforts to know which employee excels in what field and steer their career in that direction to get maximum productivity. Learning to pick up the positive traits in an individual quickly can assist you in building a powerful core team.
Let actions be accountable
Just as you would appreciate a good performer, in the same way, it is necessary for a leader to call the shots when he notices something wrong. A leader must not be afraid to ask questions and demand explanations from members who show negligence towards duties or are slacking in their responsibilities. Sticking to your principles irrespective of the situation will only raise your worth in the team’s eyes.
A CEO cannot run the company on their own. They delegate tasks to other people in the hierarchy who in turn assign duties to others. Similarly, a team leader must distribute the tasks amongst their team members and have trust in the team’s potential. Doing this encourages creativity and the team would find multiple alternatives to do the simplest task. When you send out a confident message to the team that you have immense trust in them, they would in turn, trust you.
Show sympathy and care
Having a sense of empathy not only shows you understand the employees better, but also enhances the quality of being helpful in special circumstances amongst the colleagues. When a leader demonstrates compassion in emergency situations, it represents the organization’s flexibility to respond to unanticipated problems. This also bridges the gap between an employer and an employee and the needs are well understood.
Be a motivator!
Good leaders are great motivators. Every leader knows that giving up is not an option and there is always some way to overcome a hurdle even if the picture is not clear at the moment. Ability to motivate others is a quality that gets highlighted in an interview itself when an individual has that spark to go on despite multiple failures. Get engaged in work so that you can inspire others to work hard on their own and also maintain that sense of optimism at the workplace.
As a Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield had put it, leadership is not a tale of glorious crowning acts, but an effort to keep your team focused towards a goal and striving to achieve it. It also means motivating the team members when the stakes are high and consequences would be hard. Leading a team is all about forming the foundation for others’ success and then standing back to let them shine. Imbibing above compelling qualities and taking efforts to practice them would help you move to the upper hierarchy faster and don that hat of leader soon in your career.
Author Bio: Eva Lee is a blogger who writes on Resumes, Career Counseling as well as Career Development topics and a contributor at bestsampleresume.