What are the skills of a successful leader?
Monday, April 2, 2007/
Being a good leader can be achieved in six simple steps.
There are so many articles and strategies for leaders on how to improve and what to improve – but we can make it very simple for you – just be a role model of these six skills:
1. Develop trust
Leaders develop trust when they get out of their offices, and go and meet their people and talk to them, and hear what they have to say. Not just once – often. They’re not defensive or closed to staff comments and ideas, and they communicate openly and honestly. They walk the talk and do what they say they will do. See last week’s article on how to build trust.
2. Be a motivator
You have to demonstrate belief in others and inspire them to believe in themselves and in their own abilities, so they can do more than they thought. I like giving staff a challenge – that’s motivating.
We have to encourage them, coach and support them to trial their ideas. And we should stop and celebrate success along the way. If we don’t recognise and reward staff performance, they will lose motivation.
Leaders can motivate staff by showing passion and enthusiasm for what they are doing, and openly discussing their own motives. If you are positive and optimistic it carries through to your people.
Demonstrate the behaviours competently and you will find others pick up on those behaviours and start to adopt them.
3. Show competence
Good leaders show their competence by being role models. They lead by example. They are flexible, efficient and productive managers. Competent leaders manage efficiently and productively and adapt their leadership style to suit different situations.
People always admire competent leaders who can make sound judgements, who can manage conflict, who can deliver in tough situations. And we hear too many people in social situations talking about their incompetent boss!
4. Be supportive
Good leaders support their staff and are always approachable and willing to help. They allow people to learn from mistakes, and they don’t blame. They stand by them – guiding, supporting and mentoring.
Supportive leaders take a personal interest in their staff and are willing to assist with advice, guidance, direction, and practical help. They are flexible and adapt to different circumstances and individuals, and they encourage staff participation. A great leader will develop the strengths and support the weaknesses of their team.
5. Provide direction
Successful leaders plan and prepare for the future, and they provide clear direction for staff. They have a vision and can articulate it at all levels. You need to explain the goals – what we want to achieve, why and how. You give the big picture and the direction, and also provide the measures and feedback so everyone can know you are on track. This should be day to day feedback both ways – this always leads to continual improvement.
Successful leaders set priorities; see and create opportunities; and give feedback that enables staff to measure their performance against agreed expectations.
6. Empower others
Successful leaders empower others by letting go of control – by coaching and by fostering leadership qualities. They create a culture where people are encouraged to come up with ideas, to take the initiative and to continue to learn.
You have to hold back your own desire to micro-manage and develop a leadership style that encourages staff innovation. It’s all about continuing to develop individuals and the teams, and giving more responsibility. It’s about being more of a facilitator and a coach. You have to help them to develop their own confidence and use their strengths. You actually set people free so they can deliver and grow.
Empowering leaders let go of control, and help staff develop skills and improve performance.
Eve Ash is a psychologist and managing director of Seven Dimensions, and producer of Building Trust (Learning a La Carte series) www.7dimensions.com.au
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