Happier Way Original –
You’ve reached the management level, got that promotion, made it to the big leagues. Congratulations on your new position! While you are celebrating and contemplating the workload that comes with this senior position, have you thought about what kind of leader you are going to be? Maybe you will be the “strong and stern” type that rules with an iron fist. Or maybe you are looking to be a more nurturing leader, the kind you wish you had when you were starting out in the workplace. Here, we are going to discuss the importance of good leadership, which leadership skills will raise you to the next level and how you can achieve them.
The Importance of Good Leadership
In years gone by, leadership meant increasing productivity at any cost and smashing targets that grew exponentially year on year. But over the last decade (and particularly over the last year) we have seen a more progressive approach to leadership, one that focuses on each team member and appreciates their talents. Leadership in the 21st Century is much more about respecting your team for their hard work rather than undermining their efforts when targets aren’t achieved. Good leadership is not simply about creating a productive team, it’s about producing a team that people WANT to work in.
A Note on Self Development
In order to achieve a level of successful leadership, you first need to be fully aware of yourself as a leader. Reflecting on yourself and committing to self-development will help you to recognise areas within your working life that need attention and skills that you could acquire in order to become a more successful leader. Self-development is a key attribute to anyone’s career as it allows you to reflectively analyse your skillset. Any gaps in this skillset can be acquired through training and coaching. Self-development needs commitment and openness in order to be successful so ensure you begin your self-development journey with the right mindset.
7 Key Leadership Skills
The 7 key leadership skills below are far from a conclusive list of leadership requirements. However, these 7 attributes are often the most common skills that leaders overlook.
The term “a good communicator” is often banded around as a necessary skill within business, but many of us fail on what it truly means to communicate well. In order to have good communication skills you not only need to get your point across, but you also need to be able to hear what others are trying to communicate with you. For example, if you instruct a member of staff to perform a task and their response is “ok I think I can do that for you”, what would your follow up be? Would it be “great I need it by Monday” or would it be “OK is there anything I can provide you with to give you a bit more confidence?”. Really hearing what others are saying to you whilst being precise and accurate in your own communication is a well-honed skill and one that many great leaders work hard on achieving.
- Leading by Example
Gone are the days of “do what I say not what I do” leadership. Nowadays your team needs to see you both talk the talk WHILE walking the walk. If you are going to pull an individual up on tardiness, don’t saunter into the office at your own pace in the morning. If you are trying to promote an inclusive corporate culture, show your team the example you’d like them to follow. When you are motivated enough to present the example, your team will understand your requirements and will in turn follow your lead.
Some leaders believe that in order to motivate a team you simply either need to pay them more money or scare them into working harder. This is no longer the case with so many people refusing to work in businesses that they don’t feel valued. Instead, try to motivate your team by understanding them better. Get to know them and what motivates them to work harder. Is it that one individual works harder for praise? Maybe others feel valued when you give them some additional responsibility? Get to know what makes your team tick and use this to build them up rather than shout them down.
If you are the sort of person that likes to be in control of even the most minute details, then delegating is going to be a challenge for you. However, learning the art of delegation is very important for two reasons. The first is that it prevents you from burning out. With so much on your plate you should, where possible, try to alleviate the strain by delegating tasks to others. The second reason is to help build up your team. By giving them more responsibility you are both motivating them and training them to become better versions of themselves.
Leadership is a tricky balance of managing a team and being one of the team, so it’s no surprise that empathy is a great leadership attribute to have. Understanding when your team is burning out, feeling overwhelmed or just not capable of the task will all help you to appreciate the situation and work out how best to motivate your team to move forward.
- Analysing and Utilizing Your Team
Each member of your team will have a precise set of skills that makes them useful. Occasionally these skills can be well hidden, or a member of staff is unwilling to utilise them. As a leader it is your job to analyse where these skills lie and try to utilise them to become your teams’ overall strengths. Remember that these skills aren’t always work related as many attributes can be sought from life experience.
- Creativity in Solutions
Sometimes when you are overwhelmed by your workload and are struggling to get your team working smoothly, finding a creative solution can seem like a distant dream. However, a great leader will take time to step back, analyze the situation and to look creatively for a solution that might be out of the norm. Thinking “outside the box” can be a scary prospect but sometimes the most effective solutions come from non-conformist thinking.
Becoming a great leader takes time and effort on your part. It also takes a great deal of self-reflection and hard work towards gaining the skills set out above. Most of all a great leader will always be willing to better themselves for themselves, for their team, and for the success of an organization.