While some people are born leaders, this isn’t the case for everyone. Even those with innate leadership skills still have to learn how to be great leaders. That’s why anyone can develop the skill sets needed to be a leader with a lot of practice and understanding their own flaws.
By finding out actionable ways that you can include at work, you can improve your leadership skills. So, if you have the desire to take the lead and jump into your own business, this is probably a good starting point for you.
As a leader, you need to understand that you are both the most and least important part of the team at all times. You run the show, but need to also know when to take a step back or step in to take over something. Leaders often are judged by how good they are at providing direction and motivating others. So, when your company goes in the wrong direction or loses its momentum, or faces any hurdles, it is the responsibility of a leader to re-calibrate and refocus efforts on the right path.
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Therefore having a clear vision of what you want to achieve is a common characteristic of an effective leader. Being able to focus on the big picture, and then understand how to break that down into achievable goals is difficult and not everyone can do it, so it is definitely a leadership skill. Often, taking the time in planning ahead helps one to save time in the long run by ironing out minor issues before they even become a problem. But, honestly, there’s so much more to being a great leader.
Through our countless interviews and discussions with business leaders from around the region, we have put together 5 common leadership qualities and skills that they all have. These can be improved by continuously practicing and making a purpose towards building your expertise in a particular area, subject or profession.
Learn how to inspire and motivate
Being a leader means, being a part of the team as we mentioned. And as a leader, you need to be able to motivate and inspire those who work with you, because you’re only as strong as your weakest link.
We mentioned this before, but a good leader has to be both the most and least important member of the team. A good leader should know when to step aside and let their team members shine, encourage and supports them to perform at their level best. The studies show that people work the best when they feel they actually have a purpose and their hard work means something – even if it is acknowledged as moving the needle even slightly in the company.
Build strong communication skills
Clear communication is an important skill that every leader has to have and his team members will definitely benefit from that. Lack of communication or just poor communication skills can exacerbate situations or lead to issues with morale and productivity. This can be as simple as having employees feel a bit lost of confused when asked to do tasks if they are not briefed properly or given the wrong impression about the importance of their work.
We know that good communication skills can strengthen work relationships, as well as helps in increasing productivity and collaboration. You should start improving the way you communicate by practicing simple steps, such as:
- Detailed sharing of information, which includes offering clear instructions and clarifying things
- Be better at following up, so you check in rather than micromanage
- Being available to answer and also provide regular updates through reports or feedback
- Learn how to create a conversation-friendly environment by giving your employees the freedom to express their thoughts and concerns. This helps build trust with your team
Understand how to learn from mistakes
Making mistakes is a good thing, if you read all those self-help or leadership books. But, it isn’t actually the mistake that is valuable, but your ability to learn from them that is. Making mistakes is inevitable, so it is best to build a process on how to learn from it and also make it part of your business or team culture.
You can actually encourage creativity by allowing your team members to be wrong sometimes. By creating a culture where your employees know that bring creative and making mistakes isn’t the end of the world then they are more likely to be creative and experiment, which is often necessary to be great at what you do.
SYNC Founder and CEO, Terng Shing Chen shares, “Having worked in very strict environments, where mistakes were harshly punished, it often curbed our ability to be creative and swing for the fences. I realised that I couldn’t run a company with a culture like that, so from day one, we’ve had a simple policy – you can make mistakes, just never repeat them and never try to hide them.“
Build your confidence or learn how to appear confident
Sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned or in some case, they go absolutely terribly and this is where true leadership shines. Great leaders often need to remain calm and confident in times of strife, as panic or confusion wouldn’t help or even make things worse.
Being confident may not be possible for some – it isn’t a switch you can turn on and off, but appearing confident can be learned. Ultimately, you have to handle your team and help them realize that setbacks are normal, as well as guide them on how to bounce back. Appearing confident in the face of adversity helps calm your team and also gives them the confidence to handle the situation as well.
Practice how to manage conflict the right way
If you’ve ever managed a team or even hung out in a group of people, you’ll know that conflict is bound to happen. As a leader, you cannot ignore these things and expect everything to resolve itself. These tend to escalate and can become a deep-rooted issue that affects everyone. Understanding when to step in and what to do is a key component of being a leader. This is a tough situation, as you have to deal with multiple factors such as who is the instigator, how to balance blame and also, how to do you manage workplace performance and should that factor into how you handle these issues.
Some key things to develop as a leader for this includes:
- Learn how to establish dialogue quickly and with all sides. This cannot be allowed to fester or just be hidden away
- Listen. This is a critical skill, as often, one side may feel maligned unless they feel they have been treated fairly, so listening to all parties goes a long way
- Be neutral. Do not take sides and do not show favour.
- Focus on what’s next rather than dwell on the past. Acknowledge the situation, handle the matter and then focus on how everyone can move forward
These are some simple ways to improve the way you manage conflict.