What kind of leader are you? Are you a leader who believes that it’s “my way or the highway?” or a laissez-faire leader who lets employees do as they please? Or are you a leader who tries to inspire others to learn and succeed? There have been myriad books written on leadership style and quite often a leader needs to be flexible and know when to be authoritative and decisive and when to give subordinates some leeway and autonomy. Leadership is more than just an assigned role such as manager, who focuses on tasks while leaders focus on vision, purpose, and goals for both individuals and organizations. Let’s look at what characterizes an effective leader.
A good leader is a role model. A good leader acts as she wants her team to act. She is respectful of the opinions and time of others and treats people with respect. When giving feedback, it is best to be more like Paula Abdul on American Idol than Simon Cowell, who made the contestants feel two inches tall.
A good leader is a good listener. A good listener is one who understands the words and emotion behind what employees are saying and consequently is able to make better decisions. A good leader listens in order to see things from the other person’s perspective. Are employees positive or negative, complaining or bragging? When employees also feel that their words are important to their leader, they have greater trust in the leader and feel the leader has trust in them. A leader also listens to others in order to learn from them. Every employee matters and their opinions count.
A good leader finds good people for the team. A good leader doesn’t try to do all the work, but surrounds himself with competent, skilled workers with diverse backgrounds and capabilities who can bring different perspectives to the task at hand. The leader helps team members to succeed by providing the resources, time, and emotional support needed to help meet individual and group goals.
A good leader is flexible. A good leader knows when to be firm and decisive and when to empower employees to take ownership of projects. A good leader inspires workers by understanding their needs and having realistic expectations for the person.
A good leader defines success. A good leader knows what the goals of the organization and project are and develops strategies and a timeline for accomplishing said goals. A good leader sees the big picture and places the needs of the organization, clients and employees ahead of his own. A good leader also knows what employees are capable of and the aptitudes needed to complete a task and assigns work, accordingly.
To be a successful leader, you need to be authentic and understand what type of leadership works best for you, the organization, and team members. Good luck with your leadership journey.