A great leader is one who leads, not one who coerces or persuades. To be an effective leader you must motivate your team without micromanaging. For that to happen, it is essential for you to create an environment, within your team, to ensure everyone knows and are accountable for their tasks.
To help you improve your leadership skills, here are some important qualities to develop.
Hearing vs. Listening
Many of us have fallen into the bad habit of hearing people talk, but fail to listen to what is being said. That said, there is a small amount of leaders actually listen to their team has to say.
What separates great leaders from followers is the fact that they use their ears and make their members feel listened to and valued. Ask your team to provide you with constructive criticism to help you grow as a leader and see what areas you can improve on and vice versa. The more feedback you have and can make use of, the better your team will function and trust one another.
Body language is another important habit to be aware of. You can say a lot with your eyes, along with other gestures, to show you’re not listening. Be mindful of what your body language is conveying to ensure your team knows you are listening to what they have to say.
Define Your Management Style
What type of manager are you? Many people move into the role of manager with the expectation that their team will automatically respect them. However, respect doesn’t always come with the position. You need to earn respect with your team. Respect is a little bit like love: it can’t be negotiated or forced. If you want your team to respect you, then you must lead by example and be the kind of person that you would respect.
Did you ever have someone tell you to do a task before you were about to start on the project? Did it make you feel like doing anything in the world besides what you had just planned on doing? The reason you felt that way was because your agency was robbed. Your initiative was replaced with compliance and a lack of respect for your competence. As a leader, the key to productivity is to avoid having a team of people who think you’re an agency vampire who considers them incapable of doing their jobs. Identify the strengths of your team and their unique skills to better motivate them and help them excel in the company. This way when you do provide them with constructive criticism, which comes with the job, you will be able to have earned their respect because you’ve learned how to manage more effectively where you team feels valued and respected in turn.
Make Eye Contact
Eye contact demonstrates confidence and confident leadership is best. Don’t stare, unblinkingly, into each team member’s eyes—that’s just weird and won’t win you any points with your colleagues. Instead, hold eye contact when necessary to communicate with your team that you are listening and care about what they have to say.
A team can only remain steadfast in the face of challenges with a leader who can remain steadfast against their own emotions. Anger and anxiety are natural indicators that you’re going through a rough patch. Acknowledge your emotions, but don’t allow them to rule your actions. Instead, practice a more logical approach with a clear head to address the challenges with a professional manner. If need be, take a step back before you approach a difficult situation.
A true leader is in control of their emotions, maintains a confident aura that energizes others, and is genuinely invested in their team members. Successful leadership awakens a mutual respect between leaders and their team members for their competence. Use the skills you already have to strengthen your position as a manager and grow as a leader.
Author: Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer with Workfront. When she is not writing, Brooke is committed to learning more about helping businesses and marketing professionals succeed with their project management goals.