Leadership is both rewarding and demanding. It is a balancing act of pushing limits and finding new horizons while making sure that all team members are well cared for and valued. The truth is that a bad leader can damage company culture, and stifle productivity. An effective leader, on the other hand, takes teams and businesses to new heights and new levels of efficiency.
No one wants to work for a bad leader. People are drawn to leaders who are respectful, empathetic and inclusive. Great leaders also foster a culture where learners can become leaders themselves. So what can you and your organization do to create a culture of strong leadership? Here are six steps to become a leader that other people want to follow.
Foster a Culture of Mutual Respect
Good leaders understand that respect is not a one-way street. Recognize that every single person on a team has something valuable to contribute, treat people accordingly. Employees shouldn’t be treated as dispensable. In addition, respect also means respecting their employees time and capacity. Interrupting someone’s well-deserved vacation time or handing off a bunch of busywork you don’t feel like doing isn’t going to make your team feel respected or valued.
Encourage Team Members to Speak Up
Prospective leaders need to know their voice matters. A person who knows they are valued and listened to will be more ready to contribute than someone who does not. Employees should feel confident to share their thoughts with the team, and know their team leads encourage diverse thinking and points of view. This kind of confidence can spark better thinking and more participation in the future.
Model Humility and Curiosity
The best leaders understand that they do not have all the answers. Nobody does. This is why it is so important to work as a team. Part of problem solving involves admitting that you do not know everything. And a humble, effective leader will do this often. Good leaders also ask questions that they do not know the answers to. They’re less interested in being the smartest person in the room, and more concerned with finding the best possible solution to a problem.
Allow For Mistakes
Making a mistake can mean that you went out of your comfort zone and tried something new. This is actually a win! After all, mistakes are often stepping stones to success. A curious, confident, competitive leader is bound to have some bad ideas once in a while and that is okay. This can provide a learning experience and help you think even more critically in the future.
Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
People tend to feel the happiest, most fulfilled, and most productive when doing something they are good at. And nothing is as discouraging as trying to carry out a task we do not feel cut out for. However, it’s important to maximize our strengths. Help your team become aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Help them work in the areas of strength and supplement their weaknesses with extra instruction or help from other team members.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
The most effective leaders understand that they cannot do everything themselves. Part of moving into a leadership position means transitioning from being task oriented to being more strategic. This often means handing tasks to other team mates or even subordinates. Instead of seeing this as a negative thing, look at it as an opportunity to upskill your team and increase productivity.
Healthy leadership starts with a healthy mindset. Team members should feel valued, included, and encouraged to grow. Strong leaders recognize the importance of working together, and that ultimately you’re working towards a common goal.