As a manager or business owner leading a team, you have a lot of responsibility. Not only do you have to supervise daily tasks and outcomes, but you’re responsible for employee morale and productivity, conflict management, mentoring and let’s not forget ‘leading by example’! So how do you know if you are leading effectively?
Gone are the days of old-school leadership methods where executives trained employees to follow orders without questioning. Leaders today must encourage innovative thinking and value employees’ contributions while loosening control and trusting their staff to get on with day-to-day tasks without micro-managing.
Just as it’s essential to measure your team’s performance and outcomes, it’s important to appraise your effectiveness as a leader using performance analysis tools and by getting continuous feedback from your team.
To continue to improve, let’s look at 7 key ways you can develop your leadership skills.
1. Communicate Clearly and Consistently
As with any relationship, communication forms the foundation of how you interact with your team. To ensure effective and consistent communication, it’s important that you clearly convey what is expected. There can be no doubt of your objectives and employees should be comfortable in speaking up if they are unsure of their tasks or targets. Develop your relationships with employees so they know they are valued and can come to you whenever they need guidance, either professional or personal. And of course, everyone is different, so you may need to develop different communication styles to work effectively with everyone.
2. Be a Good Listener and Develop Situational Awareness
Going hand in hand with communication, listening and being aware of what is happening within your team environment is an essential skill and a key attribute of a good leader. Listening is not just about words but the non-verbal cues and body language a person uses. Leaders are encouraged to ‘hear the story not being told’. If there is conflict in the workplace or a team member is struggling with personal issues, noticing the signs before an issue gets out of hand, is hugely beneficial for the team overall.
3. Let Go of Control and Learn to Follow
Do you feel threatened when someone disagrees with you? Or perhaps you feel uncomfortable when someone questions your methods. As a leader, it’s imperative that you keep an open mind and look at others’ innovative thinking as an asset to the team, with an opportunity to do things more efficiently. Just because a task or outcome has been achieved in the same way for years, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a more effective way. Some instances need a fresh approach so, when appropriate, consider yielding control and learn to let go of micro-managing.
4. Inspire and Empower Your Teammates
A team is defined as a group of people who can come together to achieve a common goal. Your team is filled with members who have different skills and attributes. Empowering your team and delegating tasks you know they can achieve not only frees you up to actually manage the objective, but it also allows each of your team members to grow, collaborate and improve their skills. Knowing you are available and have the time to motivate and guide them should they need support will inspire them to perform at their highest level.
5. Discipline and Leading by Example
When you lead by example, you can actively demonstrate behaviour for your team to model and foster a higher level of engagement. If they can see you’re willing to ‘get your feet wet’, they will be willing to do the same. This can involve a level of discipline; having an organised workspace, getting to meetings on time, managing meetings to agendas, remaining consistent with decisions and taking responsibility when things don’t go to plan. It may help to employ some discipline in your personal routine, as well as your professional life.
6. Understand Your Weaknesses, Accept Failure and Learn From Mistakes
While it’s imperative that you know the strengths and weaknesses of your team members, as a leader you should also have a good understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of this will allow for positive delegation and help to empower team members. Learn to recognise and accept when objectives are not achieved, analyse where mistakes were made and with that knowledge, you can make informed decisions in the future.
7. Keep Learning and Improving
We all want to develop our skills and improve as a leader – that’s why you’ve read this far! There is always room for improvement no matter how many courses we have completed, or years of experience we may have. If you keep an open mind for new opportunities, stay up to date with current trends, attend courses and read books from the latest business mentors, you will continue to improve your relationships, teamwork and leadership skills.
We thank you for taking the time to work through our basic introduction of the 7 ways you can develop as a leader. Obviously, there are thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of articles, blogs, courses, books, and videos available and it can be overwhelming to know where to start when you’re looking for information to improve your skills.
Don’t get overloaded – at District32 we have a comprehensive library of resources you can access to keep developing skills as a leader. So, if like us, you are striving for excellence in your leadership model, take a look at the assets we have available for you and your team.