In most people's experience, with time, there is a natural career progression to a managerial role wherein you may oversee the development of projects in a leadership capacity.
To be successful in your chosen career it is therefore important to be able to work cooperatively and productively with groups of people to achieve a shared vision. While it might be easy to spot valuable employees who are good leaders, it is often hard to understand what goes into making one.
Here we tease out some of the attributes that we think are essential to becoming an effective leader:
Be willing to listen:
It is important to recognize that your colleagues and team members are individuals with their own sets of views of and experience. To value them properly, it is vital to listen to their views openly and accommodate them and not simply dictate sets of instructions as orders to follow.
Tap into passions and ambitions:
People generally don’t take well to following orders and don’t work best when they feel they are being forced to do something. The easiest way then to achieve desired outcomes is to inspire them with a shared vision that they are interested in working towards.
When each of your team members is enthused about the end goal and can appreciate their role in realising it, the work will come naturally from within and flow smoothly with each of them as committed to the outcome as you are.
Furthermore, view yourself as an enabler of your team rather than their boss. Aim to identify what drives them, what their professional goals and ambitions are. By doing so, you’ll be able to provide them with work that they genuinely want to do providing them with a real sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that will further motivate them to do their best.
Give out praise and take blame:
It is important to openly recognise when somebody does good work. Not only does it boost individual confidence but it also motivates others to work harder so as to receive praise and appreciation.
At the same time, as a leader take responsibility for something that goes wrong and as a first step reflect on how you may have done things differently. As the commander of the ship, realise that when something does go wrong, something that you did was incorrect and led to the mistake happening. Identify the mistake and seek to correct it.
Then as a second step, in correcting an individual or department’s work, do not publicly criticise, as that can have detrimental effects. Be careful when approaching them and always give out constructive criticism rather than simply stating the obvious. Also, attempt to receive their inputs on how things may be changed to avoid past mistakes.
Invite contrasting views:
We are all creatures of habit and over time adopt certain professional practices and views that streamline and in a sense come to define our working process.
While the practices that we stick to are obviously those that we think are effective in producing a desired outcome, following a set pattern can curb our inventiveness and make us less creative.
In an ever changing professional landscape, relics of many organizations of the likes of Nokia and Kodak serve as warnings for those who are not quick to update.
So as a leader, constantly inviting contrasting views is important and can help your team be more dynamic and achieve better outcomes.
Aim for the best:
'Good is the enemy of great' is an important adage to work by when a leader. Setting your team up to exceed expectations and achieve bigger, better outcomes can give them a renewed sense of purpose every time they begin a new project. This also provides your team with the opportunity to grow with every project rather than remaining static.