The success of any organization (a company, debate club or a soccer team) relies heavily on the ability and effectiveness of its leaders. Having or being a leader who is willing and able to plan a strategy, communicate it, and motivate a group of people to execute it is often one of the factors that differentiate the success stories from the failures.
Some lucky people are born with the necessary skills that allow them to be great leaders without even trying but great leadership does not come naturally to everyone. Some people don’t want to be leaders and that is fine. Not everyone is cut out to be one. There are, however, some of us that are, or have been, in leadership positions and who really need to work on improving our leadership skills. Even if you are already a fantastic leader, there are always areas for improvement.
Leadership is perhaps one of the most written about topics in business literature. There is an abundance of self-help books that promise to help you become a better leader. I have read a bunch of them. Some are good, some are not so good. It certainly doesn’t hurt to read a few. However, I really think that the best “recipe” for becoming a better leader is experience.
I have had the opportunity to work with many different leaders, at different levels, with different organizations in different countries. I have learned from them all. Sometimes I have learned effective strategies to be a leader. Other times I have learned how not to do things. I still have lots to learn but I want to share a few tips that have helped me become a better leader.
- Forget the old “Do as I say, not as I do” motto: This old saying never sat well with me. If you want people to be on time, you have to be on time. If you want people to follow the rules, you must follow the rules. Set the bar high and people will reach for it with you.
- Pick your battles: There will be instances where you need to be strict with your staff and there will be others where you can be a little flexible. Make sure you identify each of them and communicate them clearly.
- Know yourself: Make sure you know your own strengths and weaknesses so that you can surround yourself with people that complement what you do best and help to “fill the holes”. Not only will this help your organization, but it will give you a chance to learn something from the people around you.
- Know your team: As a leader, you must identify the strengths and weaknesses of your team members so you can allocate tasks according to what they do best. This will allow you to improve your results as a team, improve the group’s morale and create a more rounded organization.
- Be friendly: The effectiveness of leaders who “rule by fear” is considerably lower than those who are accessible, easy-going and friendly with their staff. Clear communication will allow you to have a strong hold on your authority and the goals you are looking for while having a cordial, friendly relationship with your team.
This is the top five tips that have worked for me. They may, or may not, work for you. I would love to hear what has or has not worked for you in the past.