‘What makes an effective leader?’
This is an ever-important question in the business world – and one I often asked myself. During my career, I had the pleasure of meeting some stellar leaders… and some less than stellar “leaders”.
Being the CEO and co-founder of a growing digital agency, today I find this topic more relevant than ever. I need to know what I need to do to constantly be at the top of my game and lead my team effectively. I need to know how to hone a supportive leadership style. That way, my team can continue achieving great results – both for our agency and our partners.
Therefore I decided to write a post about the factors of effective leadership.
What are the signs of a good leader?
Ironically, bad leaders are usually a lot easier to recognize than good ones. We might not even recognize a good leader till after we’ve stopped working with them and started working with someone else. The explanation for that might be that we never know what we have until it’s gone.
My explanation is that bad leaders can do terrible damage to their teams in no time at all and that’s why they are easier to notice.
Whatever the reason may be, here are some signs I recognize in all good leaders:
- They are people-oriented
I would say that this is the cornerstone of effective leadership in the workplace. First and foremost, every team member is a person with thoughts and emotions and should be treated as such. Some leaders seem to forget that, and view their team as a mere tool for achieving goals.
If a leader puts profit/success before his team, the team will certainly feel it. Good leaders achieve goals with their team, not through them.
- They have integrity
Without integrity, it is almost impossible to create a long-lasting organization.
Honest leaders create, corrupted leaders destroy. It is as simple as that. Teams cannot be led under false pretenses. In the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time”.
Leaders should be their team’s moral compass, helping them strive for fairness in the workplace.
- They care about their teams’ input
None of us can take on the world and all of its problems alone.
Good leaders listen to their team members and include them in the decision-making process. That way they get a bigger diversity of opinions. Not only does that make the team feel happy to be included, but also leads to superior decisions.
That is why excellent leaders frequently communicate with their teams.
- They are risk-takers. Also, they are accountable
Like anything else in life – being a leader can sometimes be really rough. Sometimes, leaders have to make decisions without having all the data. Sometimes, they will have no good options to choose from. Sometimes, they will be stuck in a lose-lose situation.
In spite of all that, good leaders still make decisions, take calculated risks, and most importantly – live with the consequences of their actions.
- They are constantly growing
We all know people incapable of change – people who have stayed the same for 20 years (maybe more) as if frozen in time. Could you ever see some of those people as leaders? Could you take them seriously? I know I couldn’t.
Personal development plays a great part in being a valuable leader.
Only by working on themselves, by bettering themselves every day, can good leaders inspire their team to do the same.
5 Best Leadership Practices
Now that I went over the signs of good leaders, I will share with you 5 best leadership practices.
These practices were compiled from my personal experience in leading my team, as well as talking and working with other leaders. Some people are natural-born leaders, others need to develop and practice their leadership skills.
Whichever group you fall into, following these practices will surely help you become an even better leader.
Delegate all the work you can
I know it can be tempting to micromanage, but that will spell disaster for your organization. By delegating as much work as possible, you are achieving two equally important things.
First, you are telling your team you trust them enough to do the work themselves. That can do wonders for their self-esteem and productivity.
Second, delegating work opens up additional time for you to concentrate on your job. If you are at the top levels of an organization, you shouldn’t be spending time on trivial things others can and should be doing. Concentrate on your own work.
Talk with your team and give proper instructions
Your team should always know what you expect them to do. When giving them instructions, be careful and precise in your explanations.
The more information they have, the better the job they will do. Even if you are in a hurry, try to give as many details as possible. If your team doesn’t understand exactly what you want them to do, not only will they grow frustrated, they will also do a bad job.
That is no way to run a team and is not a sustainable leadership style.
Give constructive feedback
Giving feedback can be tough, especially if you have to assess work that isn’t up to par with usual standards. The way you give feedback can make or break your team. Giving them constructive feedback will make them happy to continue working, even if the initial work might have been bad.
Also, think about how you give positive feedback. It is not enough to say that something is good: explain precisely what it is that you like and why.
Be there for your team
Absent leaders are the worst. To be an effective leader, you need to be there for your team, both in good and bad times.
During good times, your team needs you to continue organizing them and keeping up the pace. During bad times, your team needs someone to look up to, to rely on, to help them weather the storm.
No matter what is going on, your team should be aware you are there for them and available to talk with them.
Share your thoughts about the future with your team
If you are a leader worth your salt, you should be frequently thinking about your organization’s future. You should be thinking about the goals you want to achieve and the methods of achieving them. You should be a strategic thinker with a clearly defined mission and vision.
However, don’t forget to share your plans and goals with your team. If your team is aware of the future you are building together, they will feel more empowered and confident, which will lead to better results.
Some people are natural-born leaders, some are born out of necessity, and some develop their leadership skills during the years. Being a proper, effective, valuable leader is an incredibly rewarding and satisfying experience. Nonetheless, being such a leader is by no means an easy task. There are few things more frustrating than working for a bad leader, which makes it extremely dangerous. It can easily destroy your business.
Great leaders should constantly work on themselves and better themselves each day. In this article, I shared some signs that help me recognize good leaders.
I also shared 5 best leadership practices I use when working with my team. Following these practices, you will improve your leadership methods and lead a happier, more satisfied, more productive team.