The modern work world is more stressful and more competitive than it’s ever been. Expectations for immediate excellence are high. The education and ambition level of your competition for the next promotion is likely as good or better than your own. Ways to separate yourself from mediocre performance can be hard to contextualize. Displaying effective leadership skills is one of the easiest way to separate yourself from the pack. Here are some positive traits to start practicing to establish yourself as a leader in your workplace.
- Empower others
The book, “Drive”, by social scientist Dan Pink, talks about how autonomy, mastery, and purpose are some of the most motivating factors for the human mind. As a leader working with peers and subordinates, it’s hard to help others with their mastery and purpose. However, you can contribute to an individual’s autonomy. The opposite of this being the feared “micromanager,” one of the most commonly used terms for a poor supervisor or leader.
A war general once said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity”; in other terms, get out of people’s way. Give them a clear task, a clear purpose to the task, and a clear end state, and let them work. Even if the one isolated assignment doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, the long-term return on investment will far outweigh the short term frustration. Whatever the assignment is, regardless of how it turns out, will help you foster a relationship with an individual who wants to work with and for you for the long term.
- Don’t be friendly, just be honest
A recent study, polling both employees and CEOs, found integrity to be the most important trait of a leader. Do not worry about hurting an employee’s feelings if the product presented misses the mark. There is no need to make your critique any more colorful than necessary, but sugar coating could send mixed messages. On the inverse, when an employee challenges your authority or validity, do not defend yourself with anger, aggression, or deception. Be honest, let your workforce know you are out of your element, and ask for help. This honesty will not only build trust between you and your workforce, but it can foster a more open, communicative company culture for when you are not around.
- Build the right team for the right mission
“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.” These were the words in the ad published by Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton was very deliberate in the words he put in the ad, looking for a specific employee. Whether you are tasked with hiring new employees, or forming a team for a new project; be diligent in the selection of your team members. Search for diversity of thought, people who are capable of making decisions during stressful times, and a good mix of differing skills. Sprinkle in a good mix of empowerment and honesty from yourself and both you, and your supervisor, will be happy with the end result.
There are a number of other traits that a strong leader can possess that will aid in in accomplishing the above goals. A working team is only as strong as the person that leads them. There is no finish line when it comes to being an accomplished leader, so keep striving to achieve excellence.
She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader, and dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons creativity enough that she’ll get more than groans and eye rolls in response. To read more of her work, follow her on Twitter @faulknercreek