Operations and Client Success Manager
I've been reading a ton of information over the last few months about leadership. Moving into a new role myself, I wanted to understand what the common denominators are that will predict who will become great leaders, how I can foster those attributes in a young team, and how to be the best leader I can be in the future.
Obviously, leadership skills are honed over years of experience, but in my role of mentoring, I wanted to share all the advice I can to my young, ambitious team. One article I read gathered all the best management tips from a handful of the best corporate leaders. Most had years of winning and losing, had spoken in front of mass audiences, and had honed their skills to achieve great success. I wanted to learn from them. Here are 10 of my favourite take-aways from that research:
1. Be truthful
Be honest and open, and don't try to hide anything from your employees or your team. Body language, voice inflections are all a dead give-away. You've selected and groomed your team for their smarts, and they will be smart enough to tell something is off. Or that you are telling half-truths.
Being reticent will make your team uncertain or suspicious. Instead, be forthcoming and upfront. Whether it's bad news or not, you'll be respected for your honesty and your trust in sharing with your team what's what.
2. Be empathetic
As a leader, you have to get used to the fact that you will not always be liked. And when someone comes to you with a problem, you cannot simply say what they want to hear. Taking the time to fully understand and listen to their point of view, will allow you to respond appropriately. With understanding, you can often say what needs to be said and have your opinion be accepted. This is trust.
3. Be open to the ways of the younger generation
The younger generation are the most technologically advanced, yet having grown up with constant communication through their devices. Their advanced technology skills have led to a trade-off, though. This social media generation have grown up more isolated, with most of their relationships being remote. They've not had the opportunity to build strong interactive people skills.
Lack of soft skills includes challenges with emotional intelligence, and how to resolve personal and relationship challenges maturely. Knowing this in advance will help you understand where they are coming from and help foster and strengthen their skill with one-on-one relationship building, networking events and public speaking.
4. Be human
Whether you believe it or not, emotion does belong in the workplace. It is already there and generally more negative than positive. Showing real emotion makes you more human and relatable. Foster positive emotion and show by example.
People will go the distance for people they feel like they know, like, admire, respect and trust. You don't have to be Facebook friends, but you need to know about your team personally and what they like, their personalities and the support they have in their personal life.
5. Be responsible
Successful leaders take their responsibility seriously and understand that encompasses their entire team. At the end of the day, the buck stops with them. Knowing this, your team will feel freer and more comfortable in being creative and bring their A-game to work every day.
6. Be a visionary
Be a visionary and share it with your team. Positive energy is often contagious, and when you share your dream and vision – it gives meaning to work and makes the company's goals more relatable. Your team will work harder towards something they understand, and that has been made real.
7. Be respectful of those before you
If you are joining a new company or made the head of a new-to-you team, be respectful of the processes and strategy set up before your time. No one wants to hear of your past successes or how "good" you had it in your previous role. Instead, learn from the current set up and ease your way in with respect, leadership and trust. You, obviously, are where you are for a reason, but you still have to prove it in a new environment.
8. Be humble
Real leadership is not about you. When taking a leadership role, leave your ego at the door. It's not about being in charge or always being right. Instead, your role is to direct, encourage, mentor, and foster your team to be the best they can.
9. Be curious
Learning never ends for truly successful people. And lifelong learning involves a healthy dose of curiosity. With curiosity comes collaboration, innovation and creativity.
When you are not curious, your decisions and opinions are more rigid and often can come across as judgemental. From this atmosphere breeds conflict, frustration and less than ideal job satisfaction. Instead, use your team as an endless pool of ideas and experiences that they can share.
Working together builds a stronger and more trusting team where they are comfortable sharing and being heard and respected for their opinion.
10. Be smart, but not the smartest
Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Building a successful team is about finding the people who are experts in their field and often smarter than the leader who is hiring them. Good leadership is about allowing these smart people to thrive in their roles and expertise. This allows you not to have to waste energy micromanaging but allows your team to grow and innovate.
An insecure leader will often hire people "just like them," but that does not build the well-rounded skill set required in today's competitive market. Being surrounded by people who have different backgrounds and expertise allows the whole team to be challenged and create their best work.
Of course, reading about these tips doesn't automatically make you a good leader. Taking your time to see how exactly these skills might work for you and building them in your current strategy – these are the things to start with.
Feel free to reach out to us to share your thoughts on leadership!