Is there such a thing as a natural born leader? Leaders are people who inspire others to take action, who instill confidence in people’s ability to perform at an optimum level. Some people are more aware of how to bring out the best in people and some people require a little more practice. The good news is, that like most other skills, good leadership skills can be adopted and when executed with your own self-belief, you too can become the sort of leader that people will be happy to follow. In the corporate world, it’s possible to climb up the ladder and find yourself in a position that requires you to lead others, when you run your own business and the time comes to bring new people in to your team you too will be in the position to lead others. Here we look at some top tips for making this transition as smooth as possible.
1) Lead by example – If you want people to be productive, punctual or high performers, you have to show them the kind of behaviour you expect. This should start the moment you enter your new role, in the very early stages. This doesn’t mean you have to march in there with a heavy hand and dictate how you want things to be. You need to show people how you expect things to be. If you set the example, others will follow.
2) Communicate in an effective manner – To be a great leader you not only have to be heard you also have to be understood. Bossing people around or barking orders isn’t going to work out well in the long run. Communication works both ways, by listening to your team you will have a much clearer picture of any situation and be able to act accordingly.
3) Managing time effectively – All successful business professionals and entrepreneurs understand the value of time. Meetings should be kept to a time limit, with all attendees being made aware of this. Time wasters and time wasting are counter productive to an effective team and by maintaining control of time expectations will instill in to the team the same ethos.
4) Be human! – We are all aware that there is huge difference between a leader and a boss. Although both are in charge, a leader is happy to credit other people where it’s due. It is a much more attractive quality to share the limelight that to simply bask in your own glory. A little humility will be appreciated not only by your own team, but also clients and other people you come into contact with in your business world.
5) It’s ok to have emotions – Business is about relationships, people still tend to ‘buy from people’ and in order to build relationships that will last you need to be emotionally aware. Differences of opinion are frequent, but your ability to be able to be aware or sensitive to these differences will make you someone people are pleased to be associated with. Being sympathetic with your employees is one thing, but only in as far as understanding what is behind their actions. Your own emotions in this instance should be put on hold but you need to show that you remain emotionally aware.
6) When things go wrong… – Mistakes happen, even high performers may well falter but by showing compassion and being able to work with them to understand what went wrong is a true leadership development trait. Don’t try and guess what happened, work with people to truly understand. Yes you are interested in the results but not at the cost of your inspired position.
7) Trust – Placing trust in your team shows them that you have faith in their abilities. As a result, they will want to perform and show you your trust in them isn’t wasted. Some inexperienced managers get too involved with processes instead of providing their teams with the tools they need to complete tasks and ultimately enhance their own personal and professional development. Don’t hide things from your team, they will pick up on it. Honesty will stop their suspicious minds creating an even bigger problem further down the line. By providing regular and constructive feedback you will create a solid team with high levels of performance.
8) Skill vs Will – Underperformance can mainly be put down to two things; a lack of the right skills to complete a task or the lack of will. The skill part is easy to rectify through training and support, the will gap is a little harder. Understanding why motivation has slumped in an employee may take time to investigate, but it will pay off in the long run. It costs a lot more to replace an employee than to work with a current one. Is there something in particular holding them back? Has something happened within the team that is affecting performance? It is your job as a leader to uncover the reasons and to work with the individual to rectify it.
9) Be specific – A good leader is specific in what they expect but will also encourage ideas to come from the team. If they are aware of what the desired results are, they may offer in insight from their role within the task that will positively impact the outcome. Explain to your team why it’s important and what you expect the results to be. Being specific eliminates the possibility of deviation from the task in hand and the team will want to perform in a collective way to ensure they deliver.
10) YOU – Great leaders never stop learning and take their own personal and professional development very seriously. It is this constant desire to improve that gives a clarity to their decision making process and inspires those working for/with them to emulate this behaviour.
People who find themselves new to leadership are in a great position to make a positive impact within their organisation. Who do you know who inspires you? What behaviours do they show that impress? It’s ok to try and emulate some of these qualities, as long as you remain true to yourself and confident in your own abilities, there are no boundaries to what you and your team can achieve.
From the summer edition of the Kent Women in Business Magazine