Have you been a part of an organization—maybe a work or volunteer group—and the leader was not up to par? Maybe they were creative, innovative, or a great visionary, but they could have benefited from management training or people skills. Well, whether you are in a leadership position as a small business owner or with your local non-profit, no matter the situation, there are some things to keep in mind, if you want to be an effective leader. Below are three qualities of effective leaders.
Ability to genuinely connect and communicate with others.
As a leader, it is important to connect with your team or staff in an authentic way. Communication is key in building and maintaining a healthy relationship. My former boss used to say to her staff, “Look, we are going to get along. I spend more time with you than my husband, children, and dog.” Every time she said that, it made me realize there are only so many hours in the day, and the reality is that sometimes you spend a significant amount of time with those you work or volunteer with—thus, it should be meaningful. Ways to foster communication include:
- Engage in non-work related conversation with the people you lead. It should not always pertain to work. Seek ways to bond with your team or staff. Get to know their hobbies and personal interests—without stepping over any boundaries.
- Always be respectful, yet honest in expressing feedback. Don’t wait until review time to provide them with direction or tools for success. It’s such a waste of time to watch people fail or unsuccessfully fulfill a task, when you could intervene before a concern becomes an unfortunate issue.
- Listen to others instead of always talking. Don’t be so quick to respond, but truly think about what they are saying. People value when their voices and opinions are heard. However, once you listen, actually consider using some of the advice and feedback you receive.
Ability to clearly articulate your vision and goals.
I often cringe when leaders complain about their team or staff—if they have failed to share their vision and goals. I have worked and volunteered with numerous organizations and I have found that the most successful are those who have members that are informed on where the organization is headed. Now it might not mean that your team or staff will be on board, but if they know in advance, they can determine if the organization is a good fit. Before leading any group, a leader should always establish a proper foundation. Establishing a proper foundation includes:
- Share your outlook and vision for the organization. There is security in knowing that the driver of an organization knows the destination.
- Provide direction and clearly define the goals of any new project before work begins.
- Identify roles and outline performance expectations—yes, even for volunteer positions. People deserve to know what is expected of them in any type of relationship—business or personal.
Ability to use good judgment.
Having served in several leadership positions, I have come to realize that it is no easy task to lead a group of people in any capacity. There is an art to being an effective leader, one who gets results. There are often tough decisions that must be made and relationships must be carefully managed in any organization. Using good judgment includes:
- Making the right decisions for your organization—this might not always be the most popular or even your number one choice, but it is the best move for the organization as it moves forward. Consider the pros and cons of your decisions. How will it impact your team? What are the potential unintended consequences? Also, recognize that it is not all about you. While you may be the leader, your team or staff are crucial in helping you achieve your vision. Don’t lose sight of that. Sound business decisions are based on multiple factors and layers—not just your opinion or experience.
- Handling obstacles or challenges with care and precision. A leader should be able to narrow in on what is important to an organization or a team. Effective leaders can discern what is the right solution in a timely manner and respond to complicated situations with confidence.
- Prioritizing and focusing on what is crucial to the organization’s success. Time will not wait for anyone. Leaders should not waste time and energy on projects that have no potential to move you closer to your vision or that don’t fall in line with your objectives.
There are many more qualities an effective leader could have, however, the above attributes and action steps are a start. They will inspire a sense of commitment within your group, as well as a healthy work environment—which is ultimately what leaders want and need to be successful.
Wishing you all the best, Business Rock Stars!
Have you experienced a great leader before? What qualities did they have? Tweet them to me @bestrategicPR with #BeStrategic #Leader.