Just because you’ve been given a title and put in charge doesn’t mean you are a leader. You need a number of leadership skills.These seven skills are essential. The good news is that they are not skills you are born with. Every leader has had to learn and develop them to be successful.
Transparent leaders can be described in single word, WYSIWYG. In tech-speak, it means What You See Is What You Get.
Could there be a clearer definition of a transparent leadership than that? No. So go ahead, expose yourself.
While transparency is closely related to honesty, there is a major distinction: A leader’s honesty rests in the eyes of those observing. But transparency is a skill you develop on your own, from within..
Transparency is the ability to see (and manage) the relationship between yourself, the organization you serve, and the people in it.
Successful leaders know their strengths and weakness. They pay close attention to who they are and how their decisions and actions impact others.
Transparency does not mean disclosing every little detail of every situation. Rather, transparency can be accomplished simply by NOT disguising events and acts as they unfold.
A manager’s tendency to secrecy is often reflexive, whereas transparency is strategic, targeted and purposeful.
Five things happen when leaders are transparent:
- Problems are solved faster
- Teams are put together more effectively
- Relationships are stronger
- Trust is greater
- High-level performance is common
If you want something done right, do it yourself, right? Maybe not.
True as it may sounds, no one can handle everything all the time, and all at once. For most managers, there are just way too many balls to juggle.
Even so, some resist delegating for reasons such as:
- It’ll take too long to explain the task to someone else, so they decide to do it themselves.
- They don’t trust anyone enough to handle such an important task.
- They attempted to delegate in the past with disappointing results, and want to avoid a similar situation in the future.
- They worry that if they delegate too much, their boss will take notice and wonder if they’re really needed.
- They think delegation is a sign of weakness, reserved only for people who can’t handle multiple responsibilities at once, or
- They lack the time to delegate.
But these are myths. Delegation is an essential ingredient of good management. Managers can make themselves and their team more effective when they know what to delegate, and when.
Once you’ve decided to delegate a task, remember: How you delegate is just as important as what you delegate.
Here are the five keys to delegating effectively:
Tell Them Where They Need To Be But Not How To Get There
It’s better to explain the desired outcome of a task, but let your employees figure out for themselves how to get it done.
People have their own work styles and preferences, and you want to encourage creativity and innovation in how they go about getting the work done.
When you let them choose the best way of completing a task, staffers feel more ownership and take more pride in the end product.
Even if employees don’t do the work the same way you would, that’s not a negative thing at all. In fact, you could discover some valuable hidden talents and skills – and employees might end up doing a better job than you would have!
Keep An Eye On Progress
At the same time, you don’t want to hand off a task and not see or hear another thing about it until it’s complete, or worse, too late to do anything to correct it.
Ask for periodic progress reports so you can catch any errors before a project gets seriously off track. Are they on schedule? Do they have the resources they need? Have they run up against any unforeseen obstacles? Do they still understand the requirements?
Make sure to give feedback in a positive, constructive way. It helps to ask open-ended questions such as, “How are you coming along on …?” or “What’s the status of the project since we last talked?”
If a problem has come up, brainstorm with staffers on possible solutions. Ask them how improvements could be made or if they need additional resources to complete the task successfully.
Give Them A Leash
If you’ve made the call that Tom is capable of doing this job, let him. Making him run back to you every 45 minutes for routine approvals will cause more harm than good. After all, by delegating work to a certain employee, you’re expressing confidence in his or her abilities.
Sure, questions and concerns might come up along the way, but you want employees to exercise their own decision-making skills, too.
Your best bet is to keep your eye on the prize: what you want your company to achieve.
Get too bogged down in the problem-solving aspect of your job, and you won’t have any time for the bigger picture thinking you’re now being paid to do. Also, you’ll need to get comfortable with the fact that people will make mistakes.
Could many mistakes be avoided if you took a more active role in the task? Most likely. But your staffers will never learn from their mistakes and their self-confidence stands to take a real hit.
Spread The Wealth
Be careful about finding a go-to person who gets all the delegated work. Are there other team members who can get the job done? Give them a crack at it.
You never know what people will excel at if they never get a chance to try something outside the normal, day-to-day work.
To get a sense of what tasks staffers might be interested in, take some time to ask them about themselves and what they enjoy doing, as well as what they value.
For instance, if someone says they value being part of a team, you could delegate an assignment to him or her by saying, “We need you to pitch in for the sake of the team.”
Give Them An Out
The next time you have to delegate something, add this phrase to the end of your request: “If you can’t do it, I’ll understand.”This little phrase technically gives employees an out, so they are less likely to feel angry about having the work forced on them.
At the same time, the wording makes it difficult to flat out refuse – so staffers will only pass if they have a very legitimate reason.
Result: Employees will likely put forth their best effort in completing the task.
Whether it’s a large project or a minor, mundane task, giving up responsibility is a necessary part of leadership. There’s no denying that teaching a staffer something new will require a time commitment – especially if it’s a detailed task.
In the long-term, however, this investment will probably save a tremendous amount of time.
When you delegate effectively, you’ll find that you have more time for the most pressing matters on your plate. As a bonus, your staffers will get to develop their skill sets and contribute as productive, valuable members of the team.
It is simply not possible to be an effective leader without being a good communicator.
Not a great talker. Just a good, solid communicator.
Most people agree that communication is the single most important leadership skill of all.
People who communicate effectively recognize that if they don’t deliver their message in a way that it takes root, then it won’t flourish.
Every moment a manager spends in the company of others, he or she is communicating something. A leader’s professional credibility can rise or fall depending on how others are reading and seeing him or her.
If there is one thing all great communicators have in common. It’s that they possess a heightened sense of the situations they are in, and the contexts that got them there.
What’s more, the best communicators are accomplished listeners — and more. Since up to 60% of all communication is non-verbal, leaders develop the skill of reading a person — or a group — by sensing moods, dynamics, attitudes, values and concerns. Along with reading their environment well, they practice the skill of adapting their message to the environment in a way to make it most effective.
Politicians call this “working the room.”
Strong leaders know their message is not about them. In fact, it has little to do with the messenger at all.
It is, instead, 100% about meeting the needs and the expectations of those you’re communicating with. Great business communicators leave others feeling empowered, and even special.
To turn communication into a great leadership skill, managers should strive to be able to:
- Create a great first impression and build rapport.
- Read other people and change their communication style accordingly.
- Convey a broad range of non-verbal techniques to influence and persuade others.
- Write more effectively.
- Handle conflict effectively.
- Communicate across a broad spectrum of cultures and people.
Along with being one of the most important leadership skills, listening is also one of the most overlooked.
To become a better listener is the first step toward getting others to really hear you. Great listening is the gateway to great communication.
For business, polished listening skills lead to improved customer satisfaction, fewer errors, greater productivity and a fun and innovative workplace.
The ability to listen well is a skill that is developed over time – and then practiced each day thereafter.
Good listening requires paying close attention and making a conscious effort to process what is being said. It’s said people retain less than half of what they are told. So good listeners must be discriminating, prioritizing information as it is told to them.
One way to prioritize is to put yourself in the speaker’s shoes.
Whether you agree with the speaker or even have an interest in what’s being said, what they are saying is important to them. Imagine yourself in their situation, wanting only to have someone listen to them.
When they are speaking, make an effort to think of where they are coming from and why. Imagine what their life is like and what struggles they might be facing. People will appreciate that you made the effort to understand and really hear them.
Good listeners train themselves to:
- Give your full attention to the person speaking.
- Stay focused on what is being said and avoid distraction, or letting your mind wander.
- Let the speaker finish without interuption.
- Listen for main ideas and highlights. As speakers ramble, good listeners remember their points?
- Ask good questions
- Provide feedback.
Leaders know they are constantly being watched by those around them, and so they recognize that virtually every interaction is an opportunity to inspire others. And when opportunity presents itself, they take advantage.
Sometimes, leaders inspire others by the bold actions they take. For instance, a leader dives into a difficult challenge, rolls up her sleeves and gets to work. Other see this, and follow suit.
Then there are the times the leader says something that motivates and inspires, something complimentary and challenging. For instance: “This project can’t move forward without you. Come and help us make this happen.” Good people respond well to that.
Mark Twain said it best: “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
Here are 3 effective ways leaders inspire.
1. They Face Challenges
If it scares you, it just might be a good idea to try it. And if you can get others to venture along with you, that’s leadership! One of the greatest pleasures in leadership is doing things no one thought you could, or helping others to do things they didn’t know they could.
Six key steps to facing any challenge are:
- Accept that the challenge is real and isn’t going away.
- Evaluate the facts and gather the details.
- Take account of your strengths and weaknesses.
- Explore solutions and pick the best one.
- Tap a mentor on the shoulder.
- Keep going until there is an acceptable resolution.
2. They Win Trust
A Harvard Business Review study found half of all managers don’t trust their leaders. One out of two!
That’s why transparency, which fosters trust, is such a key leadership skill. Clarity, compassion, commitment, communication and character are the Five-Cs of trust-building.
To win trust, do as you say and honor your promises.
There are many examples of this in military history, where soldiers rode into battle behind their trusted commanders. Moreover, concert-hall musicians trust their conductors, players trust their coaches, travelers trust their pilots, children trust their parents.
Trust is an enormous asset in any meaningful and productive relationship.
3. They Show Passion
Passion for what you do, but more importantly, passion for what your customers need from you.
Steve Jobs didn’t simply want to create computers, he sold others on the idea of creating a product that would fundamentally change the way the world does work, and the way people spend their time. That was an enormous vision.
The early Apple computers, in particular, were meant to help people discover and release their inner creativity.
That’s where Steve Job’s passion came from, as he told stories about how his computer would fundamentally change the way we live.
Continuous learning keeps the mind fertile, introduces new ideas and expands your ability to get things done and contribute more.
Most great leaders are naturally curious about the world around them, and how things work, so an inclination toward constant learning is somewhat natural to them.
For business, continuous learning refers to a planned and on-going development and improvement of job skills and knowledge in order to perform most effectively, and to adapt to changes.
Constant learning requires a dedication to staying up to date on the research, information and technology in your field, and identifying and pursuing areas for development and training that will enhance job performance.
Two important techniques closely aligned with continuous learning are:
1. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
One of the most effective ways to continually improve as a leader is to accomplish things outside of your normal routine.
2. Learn From The Competition
Staying aware of what your competition is doing is also one of the essential functions of leadership.. Sometimes, that may even include partnering with them in order to find creative solutions to mutual problems.
Whether you lead a small group of customer service reps or a Fortune 100 organization, leadership means knowing your business. Having a broad and deep knowledge of the field is essential to coordinating the work of others.
Having the right knowledge helps leaders confront and direct people by using only the good, reliable information.
The knowledge needed can be broken down into these areas.
1. Strategic Knowledge
This is the information about the industry, the company, and business units. It requires keeping pace with trends; technologies; business principles; organizational roles and responsibilities; culture; missions, visions, and objectives.
2. Technical Knowledge
This covers specific processes and technologies. It is understanding the day to day steps of the business, how they are executed, measured, verified, etc., and what logic is used to keep track of the processes.
3. People Skills
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