Being known as a strong leader is easy to obtain when you know in your heart you are doing the right thing for the “good of all.” Here are five key points, which are the pillars to being a successful leader, that you should absorb into your psyche:
1. Develop trust and credibility. When people trust you, they will be more inclined to follow you. If they follow you, and you have all the pieces of the puzzle in place as described throughout this course, you will succeed. A leader builds trust by considering the “good of all” when making decisions. Leaders do not abuse their power, but build trust by using it properly. Trust fosters collaboration, which contributes to openly sharing information, which then creates a solid team who supports each other. Trust is based on the respect and expectations of a leader who cares and acts with compassion in a most positive way. With trust there is:
- Good relationships
Incorporating these five traits will help guide you on the right path to strong leadership.
2. Share the vision with absolute clarity. Leaders need to share the vision of what they want their department to achieve. For example, a leader might share a vision like, “We will be a world class customer service organization that provides the benchmark for customer satisfaction.” To get others to see and understand your vision, you need to motivate and inspire with the same enthusiasm and positivity you have inside you.
It is vital, however, that your team understands the vision, and is 100% clear on the objectives. You are striving for a better and secure future, while eliminating the common work related fears. People with a shared vision are more productive and have a greater sense of achievement. Inspire them to follow the processes and procedures you will put in place to achieve the vision.
You also need to listen to what they are saying. Doing all the talking does not let them participate in the vision quest with their ideas.
A way to see the dream come true is by charting successes, as well as failures. If the employees always know where they stand, they will know what part they played in achieving the vision.
3. Be there to help them succeed – Coaching, mentoring, communicating, and listening. Great interpersonal skills are vital for a successful leader. You don’t lead by hiding behind your desk. Be out there and find the strengths and talents of your employees, and place them where they can shine. They need to know how their strengths serve the objectives. Show them the respect they deserve, and you have their interests at heart.
The bottom line is that they need to know that you will be there to help them succeed. You can do this by:
- Coaching. Try and help them improve their skills to do their job better. Give them feedback on their performance with observations and give good advice. Use specific statements rather than general comments, whether good or bad.
- Mentoring. Help them understand what you are all about, guide them for a better chance of promotion, and have them learn about other aspects and functions of the business.
- Communicating. Clearly share your visions and goals, encourage individuals and groups, praise when praise is due, and take the time for one-on-one meetings.
- Listening. Let them share ideas, concerns, and know you are approachable and caring.
The most important aspect here is that you are always looking at ways to help develop your employees’ unique skills, both individually and as a group, for a better future including possible growth in the company. This is a win for the company as well. The company will gain more productive employees, not to mention you will look good in upper managements eyes.
4. Make the decisions and be held accountable. With the skills developed throughout this course, you will mostly make the right decisions and guide your department into the right direction. You need to:
- Sift the data for facts and relevance.
- Look closely at the issue at hand while never losing sight of the big picture.
- Talk to subject experts if needed.
- Don’t make a decision too quickly unless necessary.
- Think about the cost-benefit for both short-term and long-term.
- Once a decision is made, do not be wishy-washy or unsure about yourself. You will be seen as a person who can be easily persuaded with little confidence.
You as a leader are expected to take some chances and you might make some risky decisions. In saying that, as people expect to be held accountable in their job performance, they also expect you to be held accountable as their leader. If you fail or deny any wrong doing on your part, or place blame on someone else, you will lose credibility and not be seen as an effective leader.
You also need to know when it is better to follow, rather than lead, by trusting your employees’ suggestions. Leaders realize they can’t know all the answers, and earn respect when they seek advice of others when needed.
If you make a decision that is obviously seen as showing favoritism, or just a lack of judgment, by promoting someone who has bad work ethics, no respect, or below average performance, you will not only lose respect, but also hurt team morale.
Being held accountable is also a positive thing, as you want to be known for the good things that you do. The same goes for your employees as it makes them feel important and appreciated. You do, however, need to allow people to sometimes fail or make mistakes during the process of achieving difficult goals. You do, however, also need to confront them. By using your management and leadership skills, people will admit their mistakes and accept accountability. Your skills as leader will also help and coach them to improve. If you do not already have the nerve and confidence to confront people, you will eventually, as the contents of this course should lift your confidence and ego immensely.
Make sure your decisions are always ethically sound. Do not ask or expect your team to get the results unethically or use a “no matter what it takes” approach.
5. Keep it all under control and headed in the right direction. The objective of every leader should come with the mindset of striving for “mission accomplished.” You, as leader and manager, need to focus on what’s most important related to the vision and goals of the organization. You need to eliminate chaos and be known as a person with authority who can make the right decisions. You might have 5 projects going on at once, but focusing more on the least important when the most important is in need of help will destroy your vision and miss your goals. Make sure you get your team to focus on the most important and critical tasks to achieve the goals related to your vision. By delegating tasks to the right people, fulfillment of the vision will become more likely.
Everyone needs to have the same focus and direction you have. A sense of community within the team, with a common goal, is key. If you waver and change your mind and direction continually, you will lose trust. Consistency is key to maintaining control and keep things going in the right direction.
These “five key points” are the core competencies to strong leadership. We will continue on this path later in this lesson with 101 tips, tricks and secrets to success in Leadership and Management.