No one expects their boss to be the next Nelson Mandela or Richard Branson, but every manager should be aspiring to be a better leader.
While it’s true that nearly anyone can become a manager if they apply themselves and play their cards right, not just anyone can become a great leader.
A mistake that is often made is thinking that being a great leader is about being the best, but it’s not.
Great leadership isn’t about one person, it’s about the team. Becoming a great leader is an ongoing process, but you can be sure that every successful leader knows to do these five things:
1. Break Down the Us & Them Barrier
Ever worked in a place where managers constantly use “you” to refer to the team, rather than “we?” Those kind of working environments aren’t beneficial for everyone and only lead to employees feeling as though they’re constantly battling against management and unable to communicate on the same level.
Great leaders don’t belittle people to make themselves look powerful — they empower others so that the team as a whole is powerful. This means that it should always be, “What are we going to do?” and “How can we resolve this?”
2. Pitch In to Help Everyone
Creating a culture of “helpfulness” is a good way to achieve workplace success. Unfortunately, offering and asking for help is something that makes a lot of us feel uncomfortable, because we’re worried about being judged for not knowing.
But one person can’t know everything. Rather than take days to figure something out, it’s better to ask someone who already knows, and solve the problem in a few hours. Great leaders understand the importance of having a close-knit team whose members are happy to and comfortable with pitching in and helping each other.
3. Harness the Power of Positivity
There are no failures — there are only learning opportunities. No matter what the situation, negativity is never going to help. Negative reactions from managers only corrode team morale and cause a lack of productivity.
Even situations that are a result of the most undesirable outcomes can be used to make positive changes to produce better results in the future. Inciting positive emotions improves visual attention, increases desire for action, and makes people more open to feedback and trying new things. And that’s just what we leaders want from our teams, right?
4. Inspire Hard Work, Don’t Dictate It
Telling people to work harder isn’t always going make it happen. People need to feel passionate about what they’re doing and motivated about doing it.
Instilling a passion for the company takes time, and it means growing a company culture and building a team of like-minded people. Great leaders usually have a very visible long-term goal to encourage employees to see the bigger picture.
They break down every-day work tasks into smaller chunks that are achievable. Though each employee is only working on a small piece, they can see that it is contributing to an overall vision.
5. Leave Them to It
The most challenging thing for managers to grasp is the ability to trust employees to get on with their work independently. As well as being a productivity killer, micromanaging damages self-respect among staff and probably respect for the manager as well.
Great leaders trust their employees and should feel confident that they can get the job done without having their hand held. Remember, you hired your team for a reason. Leaders just need to put the right tools and processes in place to enable their employees to succeed.
Great leadership is about open communication across the board, empowering individuals by recognizing their strengths and making achievements as a team, not as solo players. Get these things right, and you’re on your way to workplace success.
Photo by Markus Spiske / CC BY