Not all leaders are managers, and not all managers are able to lead. Leadership ability doesn’t necessarily arrive with a promotion or a training course, and it’s nothing to do with age. It’s about personal credibility and charisma; that certain something that gives you the ability to inspire and encourage others to want to follow and achieve.
Three key traits for the successful leader:
A fine tuned awareness of your own personal brand and your visual, verbal and vocal impact
A set of key values including honesty, integrity and an ethical approach.
Empathy, emotional intelligence and understanding how others feel and why make business sense. People like to like people.
The ability to lead by example as a role model, committed to getting the job done and done well, inspires trust and respect.
A positive attitude and a great sense of humour keep the mood light and the problems in perspective.
A creative approach, lateral thinking and the willingness to turn to your team for their input encourage fresh approaches and new discoveries.
A calm, confident air is catching – as is panic. Keep your cool, and your team will be more likely to keep theirs.
An assertive manner will allow you to make your position clear with firm, fair respect.
See the big picture – how does it all fit together? How does everything interrelate?
Think strategically – how are you going to achieve that picture?
Constantly question the way things are done – is it the right way, or does it need to develop? The new broom may want to make a big sweep – but is it this way because it works?
Organise and manage yourself and your time, setting your own goals as well as your team and organisational goals.
Organise, assess risk, plan actions, solve problems and make sound decisions to achieve those goals.
The ability to inspire others to see your vision, understand your goals and want to take part in realising them is fuelled by your communication skills. You’ll set the tone and the mood of your team.
Make clarity, simplicity and Plain English work.
Listen. Learn to ask questions and to really listen to what is and is not being said.
Build rapport and relationships that last with motivation, engagement and appreciation of their qualities.
Learn the art of speaking well in public. Whether one to one, at a meeting, briefing or conference, great leaders know their presentation skills matter.
Persuade, influence and negotiate with confidence and assertiveness.
Delegate with pride. Part of your role is to train, develop and coach them – and wave goodbye when they go on to greater things.
Give honest, respectful and constructive feedback and be happy to receive it yourself.
Praise matters. Acknowledging their contribution, enthusiasm and achievements will inspire them.
Remember your door is not always open – take time to develop yourself. But when it is open, ensure they know you’re there for them.