How to be a good leader
- June 5, 2017
While not everyone aspires, or has the capabilities to be a good leader, for the majority of people taking on a managerial or leadership position is one of their major career goals. But if you’re considering pushing for a promotion and heading your own division or even an entire organisation what skills should you possess and what should you keep in mind?
Trust your employees and listen to them
It’s very tempting to take on all the responsibility when becoming a leader or manager however this isn’t healthy and is almost certain to negatively impact your performance and therefore the performance of the organisation as a whole. It’s only natural to want to cast the company in your own image, but realistically, only the most inspirational leaders like Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos are able to do this. In reality, effective managers and leaders surround themselves with excellent staff whose opinions they can trust and rely on. Yes, you should still manage and set overall goals, but the people you’re in charge of experience day-in day-out the issues the organisation faces and they’re often in the best position to give advice on the best approach to take. Only the most narrow minded and arrogant leaders would think their single vision can take a company to successful heights and you’ll learn quickly that you need to trust your employees.
Along similar lines you should also look to hand over the reins every now and again and allow your employees to take on some of the day-to-day tasks that you’ve previously looked after. This can be tough for some people who don’t really want to give up everything they’ve been working on but it’s the best thing to do. A leader’s responsibility should be the big picture and ensuring that their employees are working to the best of their abilities and this is tough when you’ve got things like administrative tasks getting in the way.
No more ‘us and them’
Far too often at companies, particularly larger ones, there’s a significant divide between management and other staff which can result in resentment and a loss of faith in their skills and ability to lead the firm. The best leaders need to close this gap and highlight to their employees that they’re working together as a team. It can be difficult to communicate this effectively, especially at organisations that have suffered from the issue in the past, however it’s imperative if you want staff to work to the best of their ability for you.
This may sound counter intuitive, after all, surely not many organisations are built on mistakes? Clearly you shouldn’t allow your employees to go around ruining everything they’re working on, but you should allow them to be wrong. Creating this sort of freedom is the only way to get your employees to be as innovative as they possibly can be, as they don’t fear for their futures if they make mistakes. No business has done everything right and even Apple chopped and changed the design of its first iPhone before coming up with a working solution. Sir Alex Ferguson also provides a good example. He encouraged his wingers and attacking players to take risks. They wouldn’t come off every time, but when they did it was to the huge benefit of the football team. Without the fear being removed it’s unlikely that your employees will take similar risks, and it’s therefore unlikely they’d reap the same significant rewards.
Be passionate and inspire
Ultimately, this is one of the most important attributes as very few people will be motivated to perform to the best of their ability under a leader that can’t inspire them. Only a tiny proportion of professionals are driven enough to be at their best and work their hardest if they don’t feel some sense of passion or pride from management and this should be the first thing you work if you’re lucky enough to reach this level. If a leader is enthusiastic, whilst still recognising the challenges that the team will face, the employees are likely to follow suit and do the same.