What is leadership and how do you know if you are a good leader? Good leadership is not “one size fits all,” and every situation may call for a specific style of leadership.
An Effective Leader Should…
As well as providing direction, inspiration, and guidance, good leaders exhibit courage, passion, confidence, commitment, and ambition. They nurture the strengths and talents of their employees and build teams committed to achieving common goals. According to the Front Line module, effective leaders should:
- See their employees as partners, and work to facilitate communication and understanding within the team. Great leaders understand that for people to give their best, they must feel that their voice matters and believe that what they’re doing is meaningful.
- Allow employees to become involved in their own development and that of the team. Communicate clear goals and deadlines to your team, and then give them the autonomy and authority to decide how the work gets done.
- Know their team and understand what they need to succeed. Invest time in the people you lead to determine their strengths, needs, and priorities. As well as making them feel valuable, this will help you to understand the best way to motivate them.
- Communicate effectively to ensure everyone is on the same page and headed in the same direction. The ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and tactfully is a crucial leadership skill. Communication involves more than just listening attentively to others and responding appropriately. It also includes sharing valuable information, asking intelligent questions, soliciting input and new ideas, clarifying misunderstandings, and being clear about what you expect.
- Balance the emotional needs of the employee with the performance needs of the company. Leaders must have the ability to act in an interpersonally competent manner, yet also must learn the techniques of good listening, honest and open communication, delegating, conflict resolution skills, etc. This will allow you to get work done and keep the whole movement/organization/project moving in the right direction.
Behaviors of Effective Leaders
Leaders come from very different backgrounds and usually have different managing styles. Whatever your style of leadership is, chances are it falls within one of two distinct leadership behaviors, as defined by the Front Line module: Direct and Support. A direct leader is goal oriented and result driven. They are apt to give direction and share knowledge and experience with their team to ensure that everyone has the right set of skills needed to get the job done. A direct leader will set clear goals and deadlines for their team and challenge them with high expectations to be creative and show innovation. Work is prioritized above all else within their teams and as such, they will monitor performance among their employees and often offer incentives to further performance. A support leader is a bit different - unlike direct leaders who are focused on the final product, support leaders are more team-oriented and will place their focus on their employees. They are very interpersonal with their team and will take the time to listen to and get to know their team members to better understand what motivates them. They like to make the workplace a positive environment and are quick to offer praise and encouragement to boost morale and promote high performance. Support leaders care about their employees and will often ask for feedback on how they can most effectively manage their team. These types of leaders are very character driven and model the behavior they expect from their employees.
Managing a team in a workplace is a lot different than leading a team. A manager may simply manage a task by directing a group of individuals or monitoring their work and performance. On the other hand, a leader has a clear vision and leads his or her team towards that vision. “A true leader is secure in creating a framework that encourages others to tap into their own skills and ideas and freely contribute to the whole of the project or company." – Judy Crockett