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Leadership & Management
How To Be a (Good) Leader
A good leader should be accountable and empathetic, have a clear vision, and communicate effectively. They should be someone people want to follow out of will rather than compulsion.
There's no rule saying what a good leader should look like. However, there are standards we can use to judge leaders. It's one thing to order everyone around and another to actually ''lead'' them toward an end goal. The latter is what makes a leader good.
So, how to be a good leader? Which skills do you need to inculcate in you to be called one? How do you lead by example? We answer your questions in the guide below.
A Quick Self-Assessment: Can I Be a Good Leader?
First off, let's do a quick self-assessment. Ask yourself: am I a good leader? You should know the answer.
Part of the reason you're looking for ways to be a better leader is that you already feel yourself lacking in one or more departments. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's quite a proactive and positive thing to do.
When you're evaluating your leadership skills, think about the following points:
Do I take ownership of my actions and decisions?
Am I empathetic towards my team members?
Do I look out for others around me?
Do I help people around me grow and become better at their own jobs?
Do I communicate clearly and effectively with my team?
Is my team stuck in a stagnant phase, or are we constantly moving forward?
Do I actively seek feedback and implement it to improve myself?
The answers to these questions should give you somewhat of a picture of where you stand as a leader. Besides, also consider some additional signs. Here are some signs of a poor leadership approach:
You have received little to no feedback, and your team members don't feel comfortable approaching you.
You micromanage rather than delegate tasks.
Team members are consistently leaving or expressing dissatisfaction with their work environment.
You don't take responsibility for failures and often pass the blame onto others.
Your strategy is more focused on yourself (and your career growth) rather than your team.
Once you do this assessment, you should be able to identify areas where you need to improve. Now, you can take the next steps to be a better leader.
Importance of Being a Good Leader
Simply having a leader in a team is not enough. The leader has to be a good one. Having a good leader creates a ripple effect, leading to a positive and productive work environment. Here are some reasons why being a good leader is important:
Employee Motivation: A good leader motivates those around them. If your team members see you as a strong leader, they will be inspired to follow your example.
Increased Unity: Cohesion between team members is essential for effective collaboration and productivity. Plus, everything the team is doing should also be aligned with the company's vision. A good leader can be the bridge that connects the team members to the company's goals.
High Retention Rate: An effective leader can create an environment where team members are happy and motivated to stay. As a result, companies don't have to spend exorbitant amounts of money to recruit new employees every now and then.
Improved Performance: Good leadership encourages employees to do their best, leading to better performance and results.
How to Be a Good Leader
You might naturally have leadership skills, but being a good leader takes a little more than inherent abilities. You also need to make some external effort. Here's how.
Make Open Communication a Norm
We've now entered an era where millennials make up most of the workplace. GenZ is also joining. The best way to bridge the communication gap is to get on the same frequency as them.
It's time to give up the age-old tradition of top-down communication. Instead, try to encourage open communication among different tiers in your organisation. Higher management should be able to listen to what their employees have to say and vice versa.
Also, you can't have a one-fits-all approach to communication. Not everyone communicates the same way, and a good leader recognises that. They tailor their communication style to fit the needs of different individuals.
Similarly, they also gauge which communication mode the employee is comfortable with. It could be anything from text messages and face-to-face conversations to emails and phone calls.
Communication isn't merely talking; it's also listening. Active listening is among the most crucial leadership skills you need to master. It will equip you with the ability to understand your employees and help you make sound judgments.
Plus, active listening can demonstrate empathy and build trust between you and your employees.
Lead by Example
You've probably heard this one a million times. But that's only because it's true. If you want your employees to be punctual, show up on time. Want them to be passionate about their work? Show passion in your own tasks.
A good leader has the qualities they want to see in their employees. You can't expect your team to be motivated if you're not.
Your team is your reflection. So, whatever you want to see in them, you need to embody that first. The leadership style you exhibit will trickle down to your team, influencing their behaviour and work ethic.
Be Accountable for Your Actions
Mistakes are inevitable. There's no point acting like you're perfect. Instead, take responsibility for your actions and set an example for your team to follow.
Admit when you're wrong and work towards finding a solution. The sooner you take responsibility for your mistake, the better. Don't try to hide it or blame others.
Your team will respect you more for being honest and transparent.
Incorporate New Technologies and Tools
The world of business is constantly evolving, and so should your organisation. Keeping up with new technologies and tools is essential to stay relevant in the market. A good leader is open to incorporating new technologies and tools in their organisation to improve efficiency and overall performance.
For instance, if you can somehow add artificial intelligence or automation, it would save your team from repetitive and tedious tasks.
Using new processes like project management software, time-tracking tools, communication platforms, SaaS solutions, database management programs, and online collaboration platforms can also streamline your team's workflow and enhance productivity.
Build Personal Connections with Your Team
In today's fast-paced business world, it's easy to forget the human aspect of your team. Before they're a marketing manager, they're a dad. The most efficient employee in your sales department may also be a PhD student.
It's essential to understand that your team members have lives outside of work. You should build personal connections with them to understand their struggles and motivations. Maybe the dad needs some flexible working hours to take care of his kids.
Perhaps the student needs a few days off to sit for their exams.
As a leader, you should be the one to initiate these personal connections. Schedule one-on-one meetings, team outings, or even a virtual coffee chat to get to know your team members better.
Let Your Team in on Company News
It's not just the top management that should know about what's happening in the company. When your employees know about the company's progress and goals, they feel more involved and valued.
Share updates about new projects, sales targets, or even a big promotion within the company. It will make your team feel like they're part of something bigger. That's when they'll do their best.
We don't only mean professional growth but also personal growth. Let your employees feel that you're on their side.
For example, offer them mentorship programs to learn within the organisation. Or reimburse their tuition fees if they choose to take a course related to their role. The key is to empower them to improve themselves and their skills.
Teach Rather Than Order
You can either teach your team members or order them. Both will get the work done. However, one is better for the long term.
When you teach your team members, you're empowering them. On the other hand, ordering them around will only create a temporary solution.
The right approach here is coaching. It's when you guide your team members on how to complete the task rather than just telling them what to do. It cultivates a sense of independence and self-growth, too.
Give and Receive Feedback
Giving feedback can be an uncomfortable situation for both parties involved, especially if it's criticism. But you can't expect betterment without feedback. Good leaders don't hesitate to give feedback, even if it's negative.
However, the way they give feedback is what makes all the difference. Constructive feedback that focuses on improvement rather than criticism can create a positive impact.
For instance, instead of saying ''you did a terrible job on this project'', you can say ''I think there is room for improvement in these areas. Let's work together to find a solution''.
The latter is more understanding and empathetic. It shows the recipient that you're not belittling them; you just want to make them better at what they do.
Don't just stop at giving feedback. Be open to receiving it, too. Good leaders don't assume they've done all the learning there is. Instead, they're on a continuous journey of improvement and are open to feedback from their team members.
What Are the Most Important Qualities of a Good Leader?
Some of the most important qualities of a good leader are accountability, emotional intelligence, confidence, creativity, communication, problem-solving, and adaptability.
How Can I Improve My Leadership Skills?
You can improve your leadership skills by seeking feedback, setting clear goals and expectations, being a good listener, and learning and developing continuously. Don't forget to develop hard skills like project management, decision-making, crisis management, and technology proficiency.
Are Leadership Skills Important in the Workplace?
Yes, leadership skills are crucial in the workplace, whether you're leading a team or not. These skills help you communicate effectively, inspire and motivate others, make sound decisions, and foster a positive work culture.
How Can I Practise My Leadership Skills?
You can practise your leadership skills by volunteering for leadership roles or projects. Take on challenges and responsibilities in your current position. Also, ask for feedback from peers and superiors. If available, seek mentorship or coaching to improve your skills continually.
The tips we've mentioned above can serve as the blueprint you need to improve your leadership skills. An additional piece of advice would be to learn leadership patterns and behaviours through a course or a diploma.
The Professional Academy Diploma in Leadership & Management is a good example of such a course, as it takes you through multiple aspects of leadership, from people management to business continuity planning.
Similarly, you can take other online course for professionals in business and management to hone your leadership skills.
Upcoming Leadership courses
Check out our upcoming Leadership & Management and related courses.