A leadership role is something that is generally seen as desirable – a position to aspire to, something to work towards. Being in a leadership position can bring increased accolades, money and status. Acquiring a title in the workplace can be the reward for years of dedication, drive and hard slog, for ‘working oneself up the ladder’.
But simply occupying a position of leadership doesn’t make one a good leader. Effective and meaningful leadership is a verb – an active state of being. It requires the courage to make hard choices, the energy to bring out the best in your team, and a firm moral compass that assists in guiding decisions. Being a good leader is hard work!
There are some people who take to leadership naturally, but it is also a skill that can be learnt and developed by anyone who is dedicated enough. Here are some ways you can unleash your leadership potential:
- Have a genuine interest in developing people
Often a leader’s key job is not to lead forever. Instead it’s to teach other people to lead. The help and guidance you give your staff or team should not be to gain status, and their success isn’t something you should take full credit for. But working on the growth and development of others, and helping them become the best version of themselves, will always be to your and their benefit.
- Be a forever learner
In order to stay relevant and to keep an open mind, it’s important that you learn new things. Gaining knowledge is never a waste of time. Take short online courses or read self-development books on leadership. This will give you the tools to become a better leader.
- Be a great communicator
The key to becoming a good communicator isn’t about improving your talking – it’s about improving your listening. This is a greatly underrated skill, but so important in effective leadership. Pay attention and remain present when your team members talk. This allows you the opportunity to fully understand where they are coming from, and enables you to empower them in ways that are best for them.
- Always be willing to improve
Reach out to your colleagues and the leaders that you are developing and ask them about your strengths and weaknesses. It’s not a sign of weakness to want to improve your shortcomings. Be open to getting constructive criticism, and to creating changes if necessary.
- Inspire creativity and innovation
Effective business leaders are always on the lookout for new and better ways of doing things – and you need your team to buy into this. Encourage them to think out of the box and offer solutions that might not be the “conventional” solution. To encourage this sort of workplace creativity, you need to create an environment where people aren’t afraid to speak up.
- Do more than expected
I think this quote sums it up perfectly: “Promise only what you can deliver. Then deliver more than you promise.” Always go the extra mile. This is what will make you stand out.
- Tell the truth
Honesty is one of the key foundations of being a good leader as it creates trust and buy-in. Of course it’s often difficult to tell the truth, especially when it comes to hurting others. That’s where the art of diplomacy comes in – having a soft and empathetic touch goes hand in hand with effective honesty.
- Have empathy for others
How do you create a team that has each other’s back no matter what? By creating an environment of empathy and vulnerability, which allows people to feel safe and able to express how they feel without the fear of being shut down. Ask yourself: How can I help my team members be the best versions of themselves? If you are able to do that, everybody wins.
- Demand accountability, but start with accountability for yourself
You can’t expect people to be accountable if you can’t do the same. It’s important to take ownership of your goals and decisions and the consequences that might come with that. Once you develop accountability for yourself, you will be more successful in persuading those you lead to take accountability for themselves.
- When the going gets tough…
The unprecedented Covid19 experience has brought many lessons with it. One of the clearest has been that when times are tough, people need open and responsive leaders who are available and accessible. Whether you’re a president, CEO or team leader, you can’t run and hide when things get difficult. Stressful times give strong leaders a time to shine, by showing up and taking the tough questions – even if you don’t know what the answers are.
Yumna Aysen is a life coach. For more from Yumna, visit: Oh Yes It’s Yumi