6 Winning Qualities That Makes a Successful Leader
When your friend or colleague moves on from your current workplace, you often hear this: “The pay is better”, or “the role really excited me”, or, “the work culture seems like just the place I’d fit into.” You will rarely hear them saying negative things about their job. Unless a past job was awful, most people don’t want to be negative and speak poorly about their past employer.
While all that is true, the real reasons for turnover usually point back at the manager. It’s commonly said, people leave managers, not companies. Often, the manager’s actions or lack of it is what drives engagement and long-term retention.
The bedrock of a good manager is good communication and plenty of opportunities to give feedback and providing your team with a solid support system.
Even a seasoned team leader can sometimes find his or her job challenging. Whether they have been assigned a new team, or are taking over an existing one, the effort and experience are more or less the same. Here are six winning tips to help you build and lead a productive, collaborative team while taking your leadership skills to the next level.
1: Take charge and lead from the front:
A team will not do well with just good, efficient members. The team leader sees that tasks are performed optimally, by the most well-suited team members, to set the agenda and the pace according to the nature of the work, and the collective capacity of the team. If you want your team to excel, you need to fix the rules and take responsibility that they deliver to achieve the company goals.
A good leader sets the vision/goal, measures it, re-assesses, re-calibrates, and changes things if it comes to that, in order to make a plan work. He/she helps to choose the right projects. A good leader is also not afraid to reprimand team members for mistakes – overlooking small mistakes can blow a situation out of proportion.
As a team leader, you should also be hands-on with the entire process of the work. Make sure that all your employees have finely tuned skills to meet targets and prepare follow-up reports. If necessary, prepare manuals, clear briefings and detailed instructions.
2: Be a good planner:
Correctly drawing up a plan for teams should be carefully thought out. A good team leader always put plans into action by organising information and resources effectively. Among other things, a manager must take into account the availability and current work schedule within teams. The skills of each team member and the duration of the task are also important to consider.
Developing a good followup system and getting team members to be accountable for their work helps in driving results and meeting goals. The systems and processes that you put in place must act as a guide to the team members. Smooth communication, therefore, determines the effectiveness of the planning.
Secondly, an important question is what do you want to have achieved – specific, measurable, realistic – by the end of a period or a timeframe? The more specific you are, the more clarity it brings to your team. The key goal is to get the work done efficiently and on time.
Finally, go over what resources and support is required for the team to reach the objectives. This could be simply time and money, or external help or efforts, like training, or upgrading of infrastructure or technology. This not only has the task element but also a skill element. What kinds of people are needed for the work to be done. Here are a few expert tips that you could try: 5 Smart Tips for Achieving Team Goals in the Workplace
3: Discuss don’t dictate:
Leaders inspire others. They do not dictate, rather, they convince others to make the right choices. It is not about seniority or official authority of a person. The smart way to describe this is to get someone to do something you want, because they want to do it!
As a leader, you need to be able to relate to people and adapt accordingly. For some, you need to be empathetic, like going easy on someone who has an ill family member. For others, you need to be a motivator.
A good leader respects different points of view, respects people and displays empathy. Such leaders are able to influence their teams and keep them self-motivated. They inspire commitment and ethical work practice by being open and fair in communication. Knowing how to effectively communicate a ‘no’ is an art too.
Leaders should not portray themselves to be perfect. As a leader, you need to admit to your mistakes and show that you are human too. This will help your team members relate to you.
4: Manage conflicts:
When you get a group of people together day after day, conflict is inevitable. The employees you so carefully selected after a series of interviews during the hiring process aren’t immune, either. They might have given the perfect answers to questions such as, “How do you handle conflict?”. Unfortunately, polished interview responses don’t guarantee a conflict-free workplace.
The workplace can become a toxic environment when leaders allow conflict to fester rather than confront it head-on. Managing conflict can be tricky. You have to make sure it works within the principles of the organisation, it’s nipped in the bud, and all involved see a satisfactory resolution that doesn’t need revisiting.
Many leaders would rather avoid tension and tiptoe around a problem. What they don’t realise is that by avoiding tension all together they are creating the cracks that can widen among employees. A leader is expected to neutralise or minimise conflict.
Timing is everything when it comes to managing conflict, and the best time to take action is when a mistake is spotted and there is clear evidence of who needs to be brought to books for it. Everyone deals with conflict differently, and it is important to be aware of boundaries. If an employee crosses the line, it is good to intervene, take charge. It is also good to address it head-on and in private.
This can be accomplished by having an open communication about the issue, resetting expectations and in case of severe or repeat offence even reprimanding the employee.
5: Be reasonable:
Being reasonable means walking a thin line. Great leaders get things done, no matter what the reasons. You decide what’s acceptable and what’s not, and communicate it to the team and be firm about it. If you don’t communicate what reasons are unacceptable, they will persist. Regular, open communication with staff is, of course, the foundation of a good working relationship.
When a challenging project is about to begin, get your team together and explain that you understand and expect that challenges will arise, but that you expect your team to get things done as a team and meet the outcomes regardless. In other words, be accommodative of mistakes, and be empathetic, but don’t lose focus on the goal.
By keeping your team focused on the outcome, and ensuring that you communicate that the outcome is not an option, you will make sure that the team will work cohesively towards the goal, and not take advantage. Make sure everyone is clear on what is acceptable and unacceptable.
It is said that the hardest person you will ever have to lead is yourself. It is important to ask yourself whether you are doing all the right things to keep people in your team happy. What can I do to elevate my team performance? Am I being reasonable? Am I being approachable?
When was the last time you lifted the hood and saw not only that which is functioning perfectly but that which has all the markings of failure?
Introspective leaders are constantly pushing themselves to do better. They do what most effective leaders do in any context because they are aware of their strengths and focus on utilising their core competencies. They are also forthright about their weaknesses and surround themselves with those who provide this context. This sets them apart.
The key to growing as a leader is to narrow this gap between a deep self-awareness that comes from feedback from those you trust, and your own ability to see within. This, followed by a rational effort to make necessary and timely changes will help you reach your vision.
The good thing is, while introspection is inherent, it is also possible to train yourself to look inward. Keep a checklist of things you would want from a leader and make sure that you follow these. It will help you be a better leader, and also ensure that you are not static but learning as a boss.
Leadership is as rewarding, as it can be inspiring. Sometimes, it’s all a new learning experience. You have nothing to build on. Or, you may have done this many times before. Yet, there’s always something you can improve on. While there may be several top tips to be a good leader, it’s a simple fact that some people are easier to like and get along with than others. This almost always has to do with a person’s character. Exceptional leaders are those who are open, social, friendly, communicative, humble, sensitive to others, flexible, honest and down to earth.
These qualities are the exact qualities which leave the deepest and most meaningful impact. The type of character we build is our choice. If we make poor choices such as being dishonest, entitled, egotistical, attention-seeking or blaming we will not develop the type of character others feel compelled to follow. In every situation, we have a choice in how we respond. Good character is what separates the great from the average, empty words from the action, and the successful from the unsuccessful!
At Yellow Spark, we have developed and trained people in leadership roles to manage the people side of the business. If you would like to learn these skills, write to us – firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.