The phrase “good leader” may be subjective, but if you’ve worked for a “good” leader or a “bad” leader, you definitely know the difference. If you’re ready to take the next step in your entrepreneurial endeavors and are determined to be a good or great leader, what do you need to do?
How can you assure you’re going to be the type of leader that your staff or your contractors will want to follow? What can you do to be a great leader even in the face of difficult times or challenges?
When you’re in a leadership position and if you have hired well and are delegating, your role as the leader can inspire action in your team or it can lead to discontent and discord. The way in which you lead can literally spell success or disaster.
Do you bring any one or all of these 10 skills to the leadership table?
- You’re a collaborator. When you’re a leader, yes, you’re in charge, but remember it’s the team you’ve built that will move projects forward. When you collaborate with your team, you all succeed. Don’t use your power to dictate; you’ll thrive best when you collaborate. Asking for input can be very useful in many ways.
- Look for dysfunction and eradicate it. When there is dysfunction in the workplace or on your team, everyone suffers – not just the parties involved. Team morale goes down when one or two people on the team are fractious. When you see or hear about dysfunction on the team, speak with the individuals privately then jointly. Do what you can to get to the bottom of the issue. Know that at some junctures, there is nothing you can do and one, or more, of the parties fostering dysfunction may need to go. Don’t let the “cancer” spread in your firm.
- Your team is one of your greatest assets. Focus attention on them. Listen to them. Give them the resources they need to complete their tasks and to thrive. Appreciate them. Offer them opportunities to develop and grow. Get to know them and their hopes and dreams. Foster an environment where you know what your team does on the weekend, what their ultimate work dreams are, and be respectful.
- How can you make an impact? If you’ve taken the leadership role from someone who has either moved up or moved on, challenge the status quo. Just because “that’s the way it’s always been done” doesn’t mean that is the way it has to continue to be done. Look for ways to streamline and update processes. Don’t throw everything out, though. There may be processes in place that have been honed over the years that are ideal.
- Keep learning. Simply because you have achieved the title of “leader” doesn’t mean you need to stop learning. In fact, a leader should continue to learn through his or her career. Stay on top of trends. Know what’s new and interesting and what’s on the way out in your industry.
- Share with your team what your values are. Yes, you will be furthering the missions and visions of the company itself, but every leader has his or her own values system. Let your team know what yours are; don’t leave them guessing. If you value honesty or timeliness or humor – let everyone know.
- Establish an open-door policy. You will need to establish boundaries of course or you won’t ever get your work done, but let your team know you are available to them when they need your assistance. Set office hours, but don’t be so rigid that a team member doesn’t feel comfortable coming to you outside of those hours. Connect with and work with your team.
- Let your character shine through. It is not enough to share your values and convictions – your team needs to see you living them. If timeliness is important to you – or so you said – if you show up late for meetings, you’re not living your conviction and your character is showing, and not in a good way.
- Hold yourself as accountable as you hold your team. You are the glue that ties the entire team and its projects together. Don’t let your part of the project fall through – if your team is accountable, you are accountable to them and the work as well.
- Train your “successor.” You may not be planning on going anywhere, but if you see a member of your team who would thrive in a leadership role or in another department, work with him or her to help them realize that dream. Don’t be selfish and hold them back because they are so amazing. A great leader notices talent and nurtures it.
What steps can you take to be an even better leader today?
“How could there be a leadership vacuum in your office on your turf where you are the expert?”
The short answer is that you can’t ever allow there to be a leadership vacuum for a client to step into. This is about leadership and not control.