Untold volumes of information have been written about effective leadership. All business owners know that effective leadership is essential to driving performance, but few understand what this really means. It seems that almost every day, there’s a new, “groundbreaking” approach to leadership described in some pop-business book.
Don’t get distracted by the hype. Stick to the fundamentals and your leadership will drive performance, motivate employees, and boost your business.
So let’s get back to basics and focus on four key leadership qualities.
Effective leaders strive to make a personal connection with their team members, as that connection helps cultivate a trusting environment. This personal connection can be achieved through active listen and behaving authentically; that is, genuinely caring about your colleagues.
When teammates feel they can trust their leaders, all the pieces start to fall into place. They will have a stronger stake in the work they do and are more likely to bring up problems as they arise. In an environment of pure hierarchical relationships governed by suspicion, individuals are more likely to hide mistakes or concerns, which fester over time and can lead to big problems.
A trusting environment lays the foundation for an organizational culture that allows for employee development, complete engagement, initiative buy-in, and much more. In short, a culture of trust sets your team up for success.
Focus on Results
Creating a trusting environment is important, but it’s not enough for business success. Effective leaders have a strong focus on results and set clear goals for her team to strive for. This also allows for effective prioritization of work and helps team members prioritize their efforts for the greatest impact.
Seek Out Different Perspectives
There’s a time to act alone in decision-making, but those times are rare for most leaders. A leader who seeks out perspectives from her team allows individuals to express ideas, gain feedback, and feel their contributions are of value to the performance of the business. Remember, your team members often have a clearer picture of operational inefficiencies since they are “closer to the action” on a daily basis.
Don’t seek out only internal perspectives, look outside of your organization at industry trends and competitor positioning.
All of this will provide you with more relevant information to make effective leadership decisions.
Effective Problem Solving
Problem solving can be deceptively difficult, yet it is vitally important. Leaders are regularly confronted with major issues that require close scrutiny. The process of gathering information, analyzing that information, and weighing differing courses of action require a great deal of effort. Effective leaders take the time to develop a process to tackle even the most confounding problems in order to streamline the problem solving process.
The Bottom Line
This is not the ‘be all, end all’ list of leadership qualities. Different situations call for different skill sets and courses of actions, and there are other leadership qualities that should be cultivated, such as communication skills and effective decision-making. But focusing attention and learning on these core elements – building trust, focusing on results, seeking out different perspectives, and effectively solving problems – will ensure anyone can be an effective leader.
by Chris Prato