As your business grows out of its one-person show, the need to hire someone surfaces. For a growing organization, leaders play a critical role in the success of a group. They have been placed in charge of a group of individuals and are accountable for leading it. They help with problem-solving, and their ideas are usually the ones that are most recognized and supported.
How does a leader behaves?
But how does a capable leader supposed to behave? Some define leadership as having the drive and purpose to pushing the company forward; towards an anchored mission or vision. Other construe leadership to more humane attributes such as compassion, empathy, modesty or heterogeneity. A leader also has to react to changes and make the changes when it is necessary. In that sense, leadership can possess different definitions for different individuals based on their respective situations.
In a broader sense, a leader is someone who is in charge of something. Each of us can be considered a leader of our obligations. A father, a mother, a teacher, a student, an employee, a boss or a friend: we are the captain of the ship, sailing the sea called life after all. Our contributions will affect the whole organization, directly or indirectly.
This article aims to shed some light on the characteristics of a competent leader, hoping that it may inspire and motivate you.
Be a visionary; together
Go after what you want.
We constantly hear people saying to chase our dreams and goals: to find a purpose in life. That may prove to be a struggle to some who have yet to find it. Some may found love at first sight, that moment when something clicks inside your thoughts, “this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
But that love is not a momentary infatuation. It is that dedication to the whole process of waking up when everyone else is sleeping, learning you’re not the best, failing continuously and being better than who you were yesterday.
Leaders understand the need to rise every time they fall. Yet, how do you communicate this struggle to others? And support them along the way?
Participative management is an approach to share your vision and struggles with others. Leaders who create environments that encourage participation in decision-making are visionaries. Having a clear vision for the organization, they strive to maintain a shared understanding of its goals and desired future. They make decisions that are aligned with this vision and communicate it to all employees.
It encompasses a range of strategies:
- the organization’s goals and objectives are clarified,
- a process of goal-setting,
- planning, and
- monitoring to ensure the alignment towards the organization’s objectives.
Employee participation in decision-making is one of the powerful methods organizations have to achieve their goals. Deliberate, planned participation in decision-making by all employees throughout all levels of the organization, and its key functions, is essential to creating a culture of high performance and success.
Communication skills are vital in leadership because they give leaders the ability to:
- communicate the visions and goals of the company,
- to understand the needs of their employees and
- to know how to solve any problems that might arise.
Components of communication
To successfully communicate, a leader must identify its components and endeavour to improve them:
- The sender of the message
- The message
- The receiver of the message
- The environment
Effective communication entails clarity for the speaker from:
- not mumbling,
- speaking at a natural pace,
- be quick and concise, to
- using visuals.
When a message is successfully sent and received by all parties, it employs a better understanding of each other’s wants and needs.
Be a coach, not a boss
Employing others to earn their livelihood is a burden that leaders bear. That is common among all organizations. But what makes for an effective one is the ability to operate as a single, moving organism; a team.
Leaders who design environments that promote participation in decision-making are coaches, not bosses. A coach helps people in the team reach their full potential through the use of feedback and guidance. A boss is someone who orders people around and expects people to do what they say.
A team will discuss strategies before a big game. Similarly, for an organization before the following quarter result. Leaders will have to identify the needs and wants of the team and how they can improve together in reaching their goals:
- Is training needed?
- Is it required to employ new technologies?
- How effective is the current workflow?
- What specific things each individual can contribute?
- What do they need to perform better?
- Is there any member of the team that requires assistance/support?
And then they would go through it together, supporting each other if they fail and persevering against all odds for a common goal. Leaders make sure that everyone has the knowledge and skills to do their job and make good decisions.
If they succeed, they find ways to recognize others when they do something well. They create a reward system when a team or an individual makes a good decision. It will also motivate others to perform better and compete in a healthy environment.
A coach trains. A boss drains.
Listen First, Talk Later
Listening is also another must-have skill for leaders to advance the organization or themselves. They are interested in new ideas and views and welcome input from everyone in the organization. They would actively seek out information and perspectives that may not be in line with their own. By making themselves available to listen to feedback, they encourage others to offer input.
Entrepreneurs are brimming with plans and solutions. The art and humility of keeping quiet and listening to others can be a daunting task, especially if they are bursting with some of their creative ideas. But try listening to others, understand why they say what they say, discover new, unknown perspectives. Giving others the courtesy of being heard will cause them to appreciate and respect.
Employees are more likely to participate in decision-making when they know they have a voice and the opportunity to have input. If the leader is not available, has not communicated to show interest in listening to other’s points of view, or has not provided a mechanism for employees to offer input, employees will not participate in decision-making. They will feel unattached to the organization. This unattachment will reflect in their performance.
“I like my job” and “I love my job” are two very distinct expressions.
A job can be “liked” because of the benefits that it provided:
- stable source of income
- periodical bonuses
- annual leaves
But those are just on the surface. Someone is in love with a job because of the company culture, work-life balance, flexibility. But most of all, due to how leaders behave and how they treat their employees.
Authentic love doesn’t come overnight. It is the act of asking “how are you” every single day, of offering help and of requesting one. In the same way, you don’t get fit by just going to the gym for a few hours or a few days. Only through the dedication of time can one build genuine care for someone.
The moment you know they got your back, and you got theirs when they need anything.
The bond created in this kind of environment is a strong one. And, in turn, reflect on how these individuals refuse to leave even if there is a better monetary offer.
An essential element of a leader is the ability to sacrifice for others. They are willing to invest their own time, energy, and resources to support others and help them succeed. They are also accountable for all the failures and not just the achievements.
This devotion may be the ultimate factor that differentiates a good leader from a great one. They are willing to selflessly serve others and make decisions for the good of the group.
In a nutshell, a leader should possess the following attributes:
- Be a visionary
- Be a coach
As we walk through the journey of life, the responsibilities held demands certain leadership qualities from us. They are crucial in reaching our goals and the ultimate success. And leaders are not born overnight. They develop through years of patience, practice and pain.
Be a better leader.