Leadership is more than just position, more than that nice sounding title that comes right after your name on a door sign, company directory or organization chart. Yes words like, “General Manager” or “VP-Marketing” have a nice ring to it, yes? Especially when found underneath your name.
There is more to leadership than just position, and people with such titles have to work extra hard to really deserve such positions. There is an extra load on their shoulders and that is the weight of proving themselves efficient leaders.
So how can you be an effective leader? Here are 8 ways to get you going.
Prove you can.
An effective leader has to prove himself worthy of the position. You must prove that you can lead, which means you have to go the extra mile, exert the extra effort, put in that extra hour. When in a position of leadership, it is no longer about time you clocked in or effort that went into your work; but the results you are able to achieve. You have to show you can get the job done, get the results needed, regardless of how. This drums up your credibility as an effective leader.
Set clear goals.
A person without a goal is like a ship without a destination. You might wander aimlessly, going where the wind and tide will take you. You have to take control and map our your destination in a clear goal. The best goals are formulated with the SMART principle. A great goal has to have these characteristics. S for specific, M for measurable, A for attainable, R for realistic and T for time-bound.
Encourage others to contribute.
An effective leader is an effective motivator. You are able to make people contribute, participate, and work towards a goal. But most importantly, you are able to make them do so willingly and with passion. Know your individual team members’ abilities; strengths and weaknesses. Leverage on their abilities, take advantage of their strengths, help them overcome weaknesses. Lead in a democratic way; encourage everyone to speak their mind and assure them that everybody’s opinion shall be heard and respected. A well motivated team is a highly contributing team.
Be strict, but fair.
To be an effective leader, you have to let people know that you mean business. If you work around a set of rules or guidelines, these have to be observed and if you are the person who has to deal with subordinates who are remiss in this aspect, you have to do so in the best possible manner. Be professional, not personal; be objective and not subjective. Stick to facts and not how you feel. Make it clear that rules are rules, and they apply to everyone, even you.
No one is perfect. People have limitations, each person has his own area of specialization. You have to be reasonable when setting expectations for what a person or a team can accomplish. As an effective leader you have to encourage your team to push limits but at the same time, know what is reasonable and what is not. Ultimately, an effective leader is able to motivate people or a team, to overcome their weaknesses or outperform their own known limits.
Encourage respect, not fear.
Fear may be a weapon of choice wielded by some leaders, but this causes limitations in performance of the individual or team. You can only bring out the best in people when they are in an environment of mutual respect and not fear. A member of your team does what you tell them to, simply fearing a scolding or reprimand if they do not do as told, and they only produce so little. A member of your team who respects you will not only do what they are told, they may even surprise you by delivering more than what you expected of them. They are willing to work harder to achieve the team’s goals.
Put credit where it is due.
This may sound so simple, but so many leaders fail to give due credit to members of a team that are deserving of such acknowledgment. An effective leader, always recognizes performance, both privately and publicly. If a person however struggles with a task, and you are aware that the person is indeed trying his best, give that person a little support to boost confidence. This will make him try harder to accomplish what is expected of him.
Offer guidance and support.
A well lead team is an empowered team that performs without much supervision. To guide a team does not mean having to check on them all the time, or having them report their every move to you. You should learn to give them a little elbow room to make decisions, and exercise judgment. Learn to trust your members and make them feel you believe in their capabilities and in what they can achieve.
Those are the eight ways to effective leadership. Put them into practice, one at a time, and master the art of leadership. Ultimately the best evidence of your ability as a leader, is manifested in your team; people who themselves strive to be leaders as well.
By John Benson