Inspire and Deliver - The Leadership Skills That Count
At the heart of good leadership are people that want to make a change. They are unwilling to sit back and accept the status quo and are passionate about finding new and innovative ways to solve problems.
Unfortunately, far too often, that isn't always the person in managerial positions. The reality is, there is and will always be a difference between a manager and a leader. There are areas of cross over, but they are two very different skills. People are often promoted to senior positions based on performance and not their ability to inspire a team to perform at peak performance.
Good leadership is not easy. It comes naturally for some, while for others, it needs to be learned. The good thing is if you are passionate about making a difference in any area of life, whether that is at work, in your community or perhaps for your family, there are some key areas that you can work on that will make all the difference.
Good communication is one of the most fundamental skills of a good leader. It might seem like a relatively easy skill to acquire and something we all have the ability to do. But leaders have a way of communicating at the right time and in a way that inspires their teams.
On its own, that is not much help. It is all very well to say that good communication is vital, but how do you achieve it. Well, here are two key areas to work on.
Non-verbal communication. There is some research that non-verbal communication carries between 65% and 95% more impact than verbal. Get some training on how to carry yourself and work on your confidence when presenting to your team.
Transparent communication - Leaders tend to take an open and honest approach when communicating with those they mean to lead. Put yourself in the shoes of the person listening; they want someone to be open and honest even when it is difficult news. Sure, there are some sensitive aspects of leadership information you don't need to share, but in general, being open and honest will engender the respect of your team.
Inclusion is key
Taking an inclusive approach is critical for anyone who wants to lead. Diversity and inclusion are crucial in any organisation, but it is your job to bring out your team's best ideas and concepts as a leader.
Again, being inclusive is a great concept, but how do you deliver on that?
Listening is not easily trained for those who like the sound of their voice, but as a leader, one of the most important traits is to become a good listener. Be mindful of your contribution and that of others. Inspire debate, manage communication and ensure everyone has the opportunity to be heard. People bring their best selves to work when they feel included.
Challenge anyone or anything that looks like exclusion. Left unchecked, it will become a problem for you as a leader. The tone is set from the leadership down, and if there is any leeway when it comes to inclusion, people will take advantage of it, and you will lose credibility.
Leaders Don't fail, They Learn
Good leaders don't fail; they learn. Conquering this concept is crucial when you are leading a team. Everyone fails; start with that (but don't end with that). Don't think for a second that you will not fail at some point. But good leaders have adapted their mindset to accept a loss as an opportunity to learn, not a defeat.
It is easy to write but much tougher to do. But that is where the foresight of a good leader comes into play. As a leader, you need to see the bigger picture. Look at the end goal and accept every bump in the road as a course correction, not a crash into the barriers and make sure you communicate that to your team. It is your job to encourage and revitalise whomever you mean to lead after adversity.
It is somewhat challenging to write this after having talked about dealing with failure. However, people follow success. They follow decisive leadership that leads to results. It is easy to get behind someone that presents a path to success.
However, as we all know, success is not given; it is earned. Your team will follow a hard-working, smart-working leader. But it is not your results they are following; it is the group you are leading's results. Getting bogged down in the minutia of your performance will do nothing to inspire the team. You have to see the success of your team as your success. Any ambitions you have to for personal success are wrapped up in the performance of your team.
So your job is to make sure they feel inspired and included to deliver the results your organisation needs.
While being technically good at what you do is vital to earning the respect of your team, it is more about your other abilities as a leader.
When you become a leader, your technical skills become leadership, and your success is intrinsically linked to the team's success.
For some, it comes naturally, but for others, it takes work. But everyone can become the leader they want to be. Check out our interview with Mary Morgan, CEO of NHS NSS, to find out how to start your leadership journey.