Author: Mike Scaletti
Being a good leader isn't easy. It takes time and effort and self-awareness. And the truth is that if a team or department is underperforming, the cause is likely the leader. According to recent studies, 57% of workers who quit do so because of their boss, and 65% of workers say a better boss would make them happier at work. So how can you be that better boss?
Being a great leader isn't just about having the skills to do the job. Sure, you need to be proficient in your field, and know what constitutes good work, but the bottom line is most likely you are delegating a lot of the work anyway, and even if you're not, your practical job skills aren't what is going to motivate and drive your team towards success.
Utilizing these traits, on the other hand, will.
When you are leading a team you need to have the courage of your convictions. This means analyzing any given situation, deciding what the best course of action is, and then following through with that action.
Any complex problem will have numerous solutions, and a diverse team will bring many proposed solutions to the table, but as a leader it is your job to decide on one of those solutions and put it into practice. If you are constantly vacillating between different decisions you will find yourself unable to build trust and confidence in your team, your clients, or your coworkers.
Note that this doesn't mean being intransigent! Sometimes new information comes along or a new proposal is submitted that makes the previous course obviously inferior. Be open to that! But beware of too much indecision, and when you decide to change course be sure you are doing so for the right reasons.
If you are in a leadership position then by definition you are leading people. That means you need to understand how to relate to them. You need to be personable. You need to learn to understand people's emotions, drives, needs, and desires, juggle those attributes, and then put your team members in a position to succeed.
Employees are any business's greatest asset, and the best businesses, and consequently the best leaders, make those employees feel valued and appreciated while giving them a chance to meaningfully contribute to the success of the business and then benefit from that success.
At The Job Shop, we emphasize passion in everything we do. It is core to our mission statement and culture. If you are going to be a leader it needs to be central to yours as well.
What do you desire for your company, your team, yourself? What drives you to those desires and can help you get there. These are questions of passion. If you don't know exactly what it is you want and aren't putting your full effort and skill behind it, your team won't either. It is your passion that will inspire those who follow you to achieve their best.
Your team needs to be able to trust you. They need to be able to trust that you are looking out for them.
I read an interesting article once about what sets successful relationships apart from unsuccessful ones. The partners in successful relationships always assume that the other partner has their best interests at heart, that they are not intending to harm or undercut their partner in any way.
While this article was addressing romantic relationships, I would posit that this is true for all types of relationships. If you're team doesn't trust that you're looking out for their best interests, then they won't trust that the decisions you make will benefit them.
Here's the thing about trust, though. It has to be earned. In order for your team to trust that you have their best interests at heart, you have to actually have them at heart! We all know that it is easy to get bogged down in deadlines and targets, but when it comes to making decisions that affect your team, the first question you should ask yourself is, "will this help or hurt my team in the long run?". If it hurts, it's probably not in their best interests, and the short-term gains are likely not worth the long-term damage.
You can do everything right. Know exactly what you're doing, and do it with conviction, have a passion for your job and company and team, and have your team's wellbeing at heart, but if you can't communicate those facts or your ideas, your leadership is sunk before it gets started.
One of the absolute most important skills for any leader is their ability to communicate. You need to be able to express your ideas and intents clearly and concisely so that your team knows exactly what it is you mean.
This also means having a willingness to have uncomfortable conversations. Is there a problem that needs to be addressed? Did you make a mistake? Did an employee? Whatever the issue is, it is best to address it head-on, in a respectful and receptive manner, rather than let it fester.
Hopefully, if you follow these bits of advice, you will find yourself a better, more productive leader.
And if you're looking to break into a leadership role, or are already in one and looking to expand your team, be sure to get in touch with The Job Shop! We'd love to help!