Leadership is, of course, subjective. But its foundation stems from one thing: the ability of an individual to establish a following among other individuals or teams.
Every leader has his or her own style and strategy. While it can be difficult to become a great leader and to achieve great things, practicing great leadership, is actually quite easy. There is a tendency to over complicate or overthink what leadership is, but actually, leadership can be very simple. I have worked with teams all over the world, from dozens of cultures, and from different generations, Baby Boomers to Millennials, and I have found that if you provide these four simple things your team will appreciate you, follow you, and achieve great results.
1. Clear direction
This is the leader’s number one job. If you don’t do anything else, you absolutely must give clear direction to your team. Let them know what the goals and objectives are. Too often there is a lack of clarity, which can lead to confusion, misalignment, frustration, and disengagement.
Clarity, confidence and courage “A leader is someone who has the clarity to know the right things to do, the confidence to know when she’s wrong, and the courage to do the right things even when they’re hard.” – Darcy Eikenberg, founder, RedCapeRevolution.com
“Leadership is serving the people that work for you by giving them the tools they need to succeed”. When you set a team up to be successful, most of them will grab the opportunity with both hands and become successful. Leadership is about serving your team, not about being served by them. This doesn’t mean doing the job for them; it means providing the right environment, and then being there to help, if needed.
Your workers should be looking forward to the customer and not backwards, over their shoulders, at you. It also means genuine praise for what goes well and leading by taking responsibility early and immediately if things go bad.
3. Solving problems
Being the solution to problems “Leadership is the ability to see a problem and be the solution. So many people are willing to talk about problems or can even empathize, but not many can see the problem or challenge and rise to it. It takes a leader to truly see a problem as a challenge and want to drive toward it.” – Andrea Walker-Leidy, owner, Walker Publicity Consulting
Give the team the space to get on with the work. Provide support, but don’t micromanage them. Micromanagement is not only frustrating and demotivating, but it can also lead to mistakes, as it can put your team under unnecessary stress. Micromanagement is not good for your team, and it’s not good for you, either, because no one wants to work for a micromanager. If that becomes your reputation, then the best staff will look to work elsewhere, and it will give you both recruitment and retention issues. It’s OK to check up on the team, to see how they are doing and what you can do to help, but it has to be within reason.
Positive feedback, in my experience, is key to building a great team that achieves amazing things. I am always surprised by how resistant many managers and leaders are to giving praise, You need to create a culture of recognition, and it starts by recognizing effort. No one is successful immediately, so you should look to give people positive feedback for trying, for being willing to give things a go. What gets recognized gets repeated, and we want people to repeat the effort, because that is what it is going to lead them to success. If you wait for your team to achieve success before you praise them, then you could be waiting a long time.
If you want to become a better leader, or you want your team to achieve better results, providing these four simple ingredients will go a long way toward motivating and inspiring your team and boosting their efforts.
Leadership is a lot more simple than we think. Don’t over complicate it.
Credit picture: Muhammad Zameer