Leadership is a trait that comes naturally to a lucky few. The rest of us have to work for it. To work towards becoming a good leader, you first have to analyze your skill set, see where you are lacking in your personal and professional capabilities, and then work on leveraging your strengths vs weaknesses.
In my opinion, a leader needs to be courageous, disciplined, and persistent. It is not easy though. You need to identify the right things to do in every situation and make decisions on the go. You need to be able to resolve conflict, keep your eye on the ball, and create win-win situations every time you find yourself in a tricky situation, which will be a lot.
All of these qualities are hard to acquire, and that’s why there aren’t as many great leaders in the world as we would like to be.
“Managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing.” -Warren Bennis
So what can you do to develop yourself as a leader You need to focus on the following skills:
Be Good At Communication
Communication is how you get people to believe in what you believe. It is not just about telling them what to do. You have to make it a conversation where you listen to what they think, acknowledge good ideas, and share your vision with them. If you are trying to move from middle management to a c-suite position, you need to be great at communication.
Know How To Motivate Yourself
You need to be able to motivate yourself, influence and inspire others. When most people speak of motivation from a leadership point of view, they automatically make the assumption that leaders are motivated at all times, and he or she only need to motivate others. However, that’s not always the case. We make this false assumption because we only look at the success stories, the Steve Jobs and the Elon Musk’s of the world. An average person, when placed in a position of leadership, does not automatically acquire the ability to remain motivated. You first need to know exactly why you are doing what you are doing, find motivation in setting goals and achieving them, and then find ways to motivate your team. I have said it before and I will say it again, life is all about self-discovery. You first need to find out what motivates you before you set out to achieve the mammoth task of motivating others.
Know How to Inspire & Motivate Others
People are motivated by different things. Some want money, some want recognition, some want to put great accomplishments on their resume, and so on. People’s motivations are influenced by a number of things, such as where they are in their lives, their financial responsibilities, and their long-term goals. In some cases, members of your team will not be self-aware, and it will be your job to help them discover what motivates them and inspire them to achieve those objectives.
People who are motivated by money are the easiest to work with – you just have to give them a quantifiable goal and they will do what needs to be done to get to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However, you’ll be surprised to know that money does not motivate most people.
You need to cultivate a culture of motivation and inspiration in your organization. A culture where good performance is acknowledged and appreciated in a timely manner, and the fear of failure is non-existent. You can do that by empowering your employees to make decisions, and encouraging them to appreciate good performance from their colleagues and subordinates. A culture where taking initiatives and failure is not penalized.
Those days where you have to do these guys a certain way because I am your boss and I am telling you to do it are long gone. Inspiration through persuation is what’s required. Persuasion is a skill that is difficult to master, but once you have that in your arsenal, you will be able to get things done in a swift and efficient manner. To be persuasive, you have to learn to say no, learn how to initiate and carry out difficult conversations, and develop consensus over important issues. You also have to be a good listener and learn to have two way communication as opposed to yelling out orders and expecting others to follow them.
While there are a number of other qualities that leaders are supposed to have, I believe communication and inspiration & motivating others are the pre-requisites to being an effective leader. Keep working on these qualities, and you will soon notice a visible difference in your performance and that of your team.
More to share in my next blogs.