Why it’s important to be a good leader at work and how to develop those traits
While writing this post, I Googled, “leadership conferences 2022.” In 1.14 seconds Google delivered 1,470,000,000 results. Clearly, leadership is a hot topic, at work or anywhere else. Why is that? What can you do to become a better leader?
Why good leadership is good for business
Good leadership fosters traits that benefit employees and the company they work for. That makes good leadership extremely valuable. Here are a few specific benefits:
The Oxford languages website says a visionary can think about or plan the future “with imagination or wisdom.” How valuable is one employee with visionary thinking? How do the benefits multiply when that one visionary is encouraged to develop, inspire and direct a team who “catches” that vision and shares it with others? Leadership is about envisioning what could be, not what is.
Appreciation of others
Great leaders value people. They understand that people matter, both as individuals and team members with relevant ideas and superpowers to contribute.
As a leader, you have to be imaginative, innovative and creative. Cultivating creativity is essential to meet challenges with imagination and innovation in complex or changing situations. And it takes practice.
Good leadership promotes ethical actions that are principled, fair, and honest–for all team members–regardless of their backgrounds or lifestyles. It’s about creating a culture of trust and respect.
Flexible, yet firm responses
This sounds like double-talk, but it isn’t. Good leadership permits flexibility, especially in situations that are highly fluid. Specific courses of action adapt to new information or innovative processes. However, responses consistently mesh with the basic tenets of the company or team; solid leadership keeps responses on track. Leadership is a mindset. It is a way of thinking that allows you to shift accordingly, without losing sight of your mission or values.
How to become a better leader
Whether you’re a new manager eager to lead well or a team manager who wants to improve your leadership skills, these tips will help:
Listen carefully and apply what you learn.
Good leaders are active listeners. They hear the concerns and aspirations of their superiors and teammates. They glean useful insights from clients, suppliers, and colleagues who work for their competitors.
The very best leaders go a step further; they implement what they learn – they are all about action. They suggest improvements based on client or supplier feedback. They use the wisdom and insights of others to improve their performance and do better. Do you want to improve your leadership skills? Start by honing your listening skills.
Raise the bar of your expectations–for yourself first.
Be on time for every Zoom chat or digital meeting. Master the messaging platforms and work management tools that keep you and your team connected. Communicate goals and objectives clearly. Workers respect and follow managers whose practices exemplify the expectations they set before their team members. And remember, leadership is the key to unlocking your own potential. You need to be able to lead yourself before you can lead others.
Expect to be busy.
Effective leaders attract followers. If you’re effective, you will, too. Your followers will have questions. Many will have personal goals they’re trying to meet. Some will have issues to overcome. Leading people means connecting to and interacting with them. This takes time and a degree of finesse. Effective leaders expect to be busy, plan for it and learn to thrive in that atmosphere
Learn to delegate.
This is the critical corollary to “Expect to be busy.” Good leaders accomplish tasks and meet goals because they learn to delegate. They understand that the size of their team could grow exponentially, but their skills won’t. They know that they will never have more hours in a day and that their work environment will always include challenges. Effective leaders thrive because they allow others to shoulder part of the load.
You’ll need to, as well. When you’re tempted to micromanage, remind yourself that your team members deserve the chance to grow. They need the opportunity to thrive. Furthermore, the more they grow, the more you can. It’s workplace symbiosis at its best.
Good leadership at work nurture visionary thinking, appreciation of others, ethical actions, and clear, but flexible communication. If you’re a manager who needs to develop your leadership skills, you can do so by listening carefully, holding yourself accountable first, expecting to be busy, and learning to delegate – it starts with you.