Any person who is in a supervisory or management role is a leader, but not all of them display true leadership. Being an expert in your industry is not enough to lead a successful team. Instead, great leadership is all about building effective and meaningful relationships. To succeed in that, you need to have the following skills:
Great leaders are teachers and coaches, and not dictators. Instead of directing your subordinates on what to do, coach them to do it right. This does not mean that you should never push your team. You have to understand when to nurture your team and when to put the right amount of pressure on them. Find the balance between loosening your control and being controlling, and remember that this ratio changes depending on the situation.
Learn how each person in your team works best, and tailor your coaching to match or complement their work style. If they are the type that takes up a lot of time going into details, work with them to speed up their process without harming their output. It can be difficult to know which style works best if your team is huge, so you need to experiment with a few styles first until you find the one that yields the desired results.
As a leader, you have to be prepared for the changes that can happen at any given time. You need to think and make decisions in a heartbeat, and know how to rally your team to make results happen. Be highly aware of everything that is going on, and pay attention from a process standpoint and a people standpoint equally. Recognize the strengths and skills of each person in your team and treat them as individuals. This way, you can make sure that everyone is performing to the best of their ability, and the process remains on track.
Flexibility also means being open to feedback and suggestions. If your team expresses dissatisfaction with something about work or the workplace, listen to their concerns, and be open to making the necessary changes. Show them that you can accept feedback and comments in stride and that you can creatively and efficiently solve different problems.
Your team has to be comfortable to approach you with their questions and concerns. Build trust and demonstrate integrity at the same time. To encourage honesty in your employees, you need to be open and honest yourself and display genuine empathy. As author, negotiator and inspirational speaker, Eric Maddo said, “there is no greater way to gain trust than demonstrating that you are seeking empathy.”
Show that you are committed to your work and the entire team. Follow through on promises, own your mistakes, and apologize when needed. Show your team that they can rely on you by standing up for what is right. Always be thoughtful, and be consistent in the way you treat everyone.
The relationships you nurture with your team separate a good leader from a great one. Aside from respecting your position, they need to be able to connect with you as a person. A title can make you a leader, but mastering these skills sets you on the path to great leadership, and towards your individual, and your team’s success.