How do you fair as a leader against our 10 leadership qualities? John C Maxwell defined leadership as, “One who knows the way, goes the way and demonstrates the route.”
Irrespective of how you characterise a leader, he or she can end up being a distinctive creator between progress or disappointment. In this article, we’ll describe the ingredients that will either make or break your leadership role.
To be a compelling leader, you need to be sufficiently confident to guarantee that your team follows. In a situation where you are uncertain about your own choices and actions, it’s hard to share confidence with your team. They’ll see indecision and question if indeed the right decisions are being made.
As a leader, you must overflow with certainty. Make the decision and show conviction to follow it through. Even if it may turn out to be the wrong one, show confidence in your choice and conviction.
This does not imply that you ought to be careless, but rather you ought to in any event, mirror the level of certainty required to guarantee that your team believe in you as a leader.
Strong decisions earn respect. Reflecting on them afterwards is also the right thing to do, so you can learn what to do next time. This element of humility will add to the belief your team have of you.
After all, it’s OK to make mistakes, as long as we learn from them… This is a good ethos to install in your team anyway. Nevertheless, when it comes to decisions, you must develop the capability to review the situations, and then make that decision.
Constantly wrestling with what’s the right decision only weakens your ability to influence your team’s confidence in you.
Our 2nd of the 10 leadership qualities is that of integrity.
Regardless of whether it’s giving appropriate kudos for achievements, recognising mix-ups, great leaders are honest and work with integrity.
This means not pretending to care for your team. It doesn’t mean saying one thing to someone and then the opposite behind their back.
Integrity means you genuinely care; you’re a person of principle. And that you’re open and honest in your approach.
I would argue that integrity starts with being mindful. Most people get lost in the moment. They worry and become obsessed with what should be happening right now – acting on emotion.
Emotional responses are irrational responses.
In order to operate with integrity, you must first be 100% in the moment. Control your thoughts and don’t let your head run away.
Stop. Think. Understand that you are in the present. Use your conscious mind to think the situation through. When you’re in the moment, it’s easier to walk in people’s shoes and think from their angle.
It’s also easier to avoid the emotive ‘saying one thing to one person and meaning something else.’
The more mindful you are, the more true integrity will shine through. And as we know it’s a sure fire way to build an army of loyal fans.
Until the point when you plainly impart your vision to your team and disclose to them the methodology to accomplish required objectives, it will be exceptionally hard for you to get the outcomes you need.
In the event that you can’t convey your message viably to your team, you can never be a great leader.
However, a good communicator can be a great leader.
Oprah Winfrey inspiring millions to better themselves in the journey of personal development, Winston Churchill leading a nation to victory, Martin Luther King standing up to such adversity, Richard Branson building his customer value brand, and Steve Jobs inspiring millions to buy into the innovative Apple Brand.
They are all leaders in their own right. They inspire the people around them to take action, whilst building rapport. Words and actions have the ability to persuade individuals and influence them to do the unfathomable.
Think about it, how many great leaders are there that can’t communicate their message effectively?
I struggle to find anyone personally. The point is, if you can’t get your thoughts and messages across in a calm and concise, yet clear way, you’ll struggle to influence anyone.
And as leadership is about influencing people, communication, whether it be in the form of body language, the way you say something, what you say, how you use visual cues, how you make people at ease… You’ll never master leadership.
Communication is so important, that we’ve written an introductiry guide on it.
Follow some of the best public speakers and observe how they put their messages across. How do they speak? What body language do they use? How do they tell their stories?
Adopt some of these methods to improve your communication skills with those that follow you. It’s so important that it’s on our 10 leadership qualities list. If you’re not a great communicator, it’s time to learn!
Without an unmistakable determination, a leader can undoubtedly be distracted from tasks. An engaged leader is bolted into where he/she needs to go. They’ll be inevitable ups and downs, but with determination, their focus stays true to the goal.
In a situation that you don’t know where you are going, there will be no way that your followers will believe in you. If you lose heart too easily, so too will your employees.
In the face of challenges, it’s the leader that must reassure, take stock and keep moving towards the goal. Even if that means you have to change your course a little to get there.
Spending time to reflect and calm your breathing and thoughts, will allow you to be more balanced in your approach. It will also allow you to take the hits, without being overly defeated. Armed with this, you’ll be able to stay focused on the goal and identify the best way forward when things get tough.
Leaders must have a level of competence that empowers them to take care of business. An equipped leader isn’t made overnight. Leadership is a skill that’s learned over time.
Competence goes past the leader’s words or how much of a technical expert they are. In fact, some of the best technical experts are some of the worst leaders. And vice versa.
Leadership competence consists of many things like:
- Emotional Intelligence – the ability to keep calm and also mange other people around you, without falling into a trap of reacting to emotive triggers;
- Flexible Leadership – Learning the skill of changing how you interact with people based on what they specifically need;
- Problem Solving – Using tools and techniques to stop and fix problems so they don’t happen again;
- Team Building – Building rapport and using the team in according to their strengths and dynamics;
- Goal Setting – Using the team to define goals and actions and empowering them to work towards them;
- Management skills – The ability to ensure that what should be done is indeed completed and systems are being followed;
- Time Management & Productivity Skills – Increasing output without overloading the team.
Being a competent leader doesn’t really involve being the most knowledgeable person in the field. It requires the ability to know and execute a wide range of people driven soft skills, to lead the team.
Matching skills, developing capability and ensuring the team excel, whilst staying motivated is the crux of a leader’s competence.
To develop your competence, research the key areas above and start to develop these skills yourself, so you can be a rounded and competent leader.
Your capacity to get everybody working and pulling together is fundamental to your prosperity as a leader.
Leadership is the capacity to inspire individuals to work for you, whilst building relationships amongst the team.
Co-operation means that relationships within the team are strong enough so the team can work well together.
It also requires the ability to let go as well. A lot of managers struggle with delegation, but it’s the key to growing team capabilities. How can anyone learn if you are always trying to do everything yourself?
You need to constantly seek opportunities for a team member to take up a task, no matter how small you think it is. By doing this, you give them the opportunity to learn and grow in their role.
Equally, by encouraging people to work together on tasks, you can build skills and relationships. This combination acts as a multiplier. Developing capability and teamwork gives you more time to work on further team development and co-operation.
Learn to step back and start to delegate, so you can build co-operation and teamwork.
How would you influence somebody to accomplish something that they would prefer not to do? Through excitement and energy. It’s becoming an accepted phenomena that we emit and receive energy.
Have you ever been in the position when you’ve felt a little off and not overly happy, when someone full of enthusiasm and energy enters the room? Before you know it, you feel a little better about things and had forgotten that your energy levels were low. They quite literally passed their energy to you.
What about the alternative? Where you were in a good mood, only for someone you know to suck it out of you and put you in a bad one? Both scenarios are common. We feed off other people’s energy.
As a leader, if you’re energy levels and enthusiasm is low, what do you think will be reflected onto your team members?
They could quite easily feed off your energy and low mood. Before you know it, you may well have a team of individuals moping around and disinterested in overcoming the next challenge.
It’s important that you take care of your energy, as a leader. It’s equally important that negative people don’t suck it out of you, and that you don’t pass on any negative states to your team.
You can experience different emotions, but to dwell on negative energy is a recipe for disaster.
Dr. Judith Orland mentions the critical steps to take, to not let anyone drain your energy… so you can stay full of enthusiasm all day long.
Now and then a troublesome circumstance will emerge that will test your resolve, but equally will require a solution. This solution may well need creative thinking and genuine answers that have never been thought of before.
Leaders need to facilitate creative thinking, so their team are used to creating innovative solutions to problems… and so they see it as the norm.
A part of good leadership is to challenge current methods and means. It’s important to keep improving and taking team members on a road to excellence.
Creative ideas and solutions are critical to this.
If you’re not enticing ideas, then you’re missing a goldmine of advancements. Some will improve processes and systems. Mostly, by facilitating creativity, people will feel empowered to come up with more ideas. They just might be happier doing it too!
If you’re not doing it already, encourage new ideas from your team. Empower them to implement these ideas. Get people to work together on problems and challenges and facilitate regular brainstorming activities to overcome team challenges.
You’ll get a team that feels empowered, listened to and embrace change.
Patience allows us to take the time to delegate. And we know that by delegating, we build the team’s capability. We solicit co-operation and personal development.
As leaders, patience can be one of the things that gets quashed when we perceive there to be too little time.
It normally ends with, “I’ll just do it myself, because it will be quicker.”
But as a leader, patience opens up a number of doors of opportunity for us.
If we’re patient, we can:
- React in a well balanced way, rather than flying off the handle towards an outcome that we didn’t like;
- Spend time coaching people on a 1-2-1 level, so we can build trust and rapport;
- Spend time developing our teams by delegating to them, even if the task will take a little longer;
- Spend time empowering teams to make decisions and implement solutions.
Without patience, we probably won’t delegate. Without patience, we’ll get caught up in unneeded irrational fall outs; we’ll feel that we won’t have time to be creative in problem solving.
Patience is the key component to getting leadership right. If you struggle with patience, meditate daily. It really does help create a balanced mind. Drop tasks that are sapping your energy and time, but are not key importance.
Delegate smaller tasks to others. Try to get some time back where you can slow down and start practising mindfulness and working on developing your team, as a result.
Leaders coach. They don’t manage and control. They ensure that people are developing and empowered.
Coaching is not telling. It involves regular check-ins with each team member to ask how things are going in the context of work.
A great leader doesn’t set tasks and then walk away. They set tasks and check-in.
Each check-in allows a discussion on:
- What’s working?
- What’s not working so well?
- What could be improved?
It’s not only about asking these questions, but allowing the person to reflect on their answers, so they can come up with the next improvement idea.
These coaching questions allow the leader to ask the next empowering questions:
- What is the next improvement idea you have in mind?
- (based on their answer) When can we go and see if this idea has worked?
The coach allows each individual to reflect and then stay empowered to take action under their guidance.
The leader that walks around with a notebook, forever taking actions on themselves, is seriously missing a trick.
Put the notepad down, and get out in the workplace. Ask what’s working, what’s not? And what can be improved? Get them to take actions and return when they have taken the next step.
This constant review-discuss-implement is the sure-fire way of gaining respect and empowering the team to success.
The question is, are you really coaching your team or merely taking actions on yourself?