There are so many articles, blogs and strategies for leaders on how and what to improve – but we can make it very simple for you – just role model these six skills:
1. Develop trust
Leaders develop trust when they get out of their bubbles, meet their people, 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.
Demonstrate desired behaviours and you will find others pick up and start to adopt them.
2. Recognise what pushes different people’s buttons
There’s no point being a super-star motivator if people don’t respond well to this. All the guru-style affirmations in the world are not necessarily going to cut it with some staff. You have to demonstrate your belief in a person, and inspire them to believe in themselves and in their own abilities, so they can do more than they thought. Perhaps give that person a challenge – that’s motivating. Know that not everyone performs at the same pace, or according to the same drivers.
Leaders can motivate staff by showing enthusiasm for what they are doing, and where they believe it contributes to the bigger picture. If you are positive and optimistic, it carries through to your people.
3. Show results through competence
Too many people talking about their “incompetent boss” and sometimes they are right. It doesn’t matter why someone is promoted or appointed to manager. In the end effective leaders show their competence by being strategic, efficient and productive. They are realistic and fair, and support their people. Competent leaders adapt their leadership style to suit different situations and individuals.
A competent leader makes sound judgments, is a respected arbiter of conflict, and can deliver in tough situations.
4. Be supportive and caring
Good leaders are always approachable and willing to help with advice and direction. They care about their people and don’t discourage people and their ideas. They are sensitive to their needs, their career progress and their learning styles. They don’t blame, instead they stand by and mentor staff and colleagues. Supportive leaders encourage staff participation in projects and trials.
A great leader will develop the strengths and carefully correct the weaknesses of their team. They reward staff performance, and know when and how to constructively give feedback. They ensure celebrated successes along the way.
5. Provide direction
Successful leaders have a vision and can articulate it at all levels. They prepare for the future, and provide clear direction during the present. They explain and agree on goals, decide what is to be achieved, why, when and especially how. They give the big picture, and also provide the measures, the milestones and feedback loops so everyone knows they are on track and continuously improving.
Good leaders set priorities; see and create opportunities; and give quality feedback that enables everyone to measure their performance against agreed expectations.
6. Empower others – within limits
Successful leaders empower others by forgoing “control” – that is, they recognise and foster people’s strengths and individual leadership qualities – but the boundaries remain clear. People must be encouraged to take initiative and to continue to learn, but not at the expense of company time and resources, nor at other people’s expense. A little responsibility and authority go a long way.
They know that some people do require more ‘supervision’ but they are also aware of what it means to annoyingly micro-manage. They know what can stifle innovation. They are realistic yet clear about the ways people will achieve targets, but don’t confuse time-wasting and effective work.
Empowered leaders help staff develop their skills and continually improve performance. They know how to accommodate and challenge high achievers.
Being a successful leader is exactly like being a chef who gets the recipe just right – people taste the results and generally love it.
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.