Moving up to a leadership role is an invitation for others to test your authority, and your response shapes the entire team dynamic. If you want to inspire your team to grow and succeed, adopt these best practices of a good leader.
1. Connect With Your Team
Knowing how your employees work, think and communicate is essential to building a team. Showing interest helps you build trust and find out what motivates your employees, so take time to discuss their personal goals and hobbies. The more you learn about your employees, the better you get at leveraging their strengths and weaknesses to make your team more efficient and creative.
2. Set Leadership Goals
Avoid making decisions without understanding your goals and motivation. Think about why you want to lead. What do you hope to accomplish? What qualities do you want to project? A good leader has strong ethical guidelines that shape daily choices, from promoting team members to interacting with customers. For instance, a manager who values innovation isn't afraid to let employees try new things.
3. Accept Vulnerability
Leadership roles expose you to more criticism and repercussions. Unqualified managers are so terrified of vulnerability that they tend to lash out against employees and try to control everything. To be a good leader, you have to manage fear, be confident in your abilities and fill the gaps in your knowledge through constant learning.
4. Encourage Communication
Distrust kills productivity. Getting teammates to value and respect each other can help them work through problems, but they have to feel comfortable opening up. Good leaders set an example by listening to others and being compassionate about their mistakes and flaws. If you encourage your team to communicate their ideas and concerns, they're more likely to be positive and responsive when misunderstandings arise.
5. Welcome Feedback
As a leader, you can't solve problems if you don't know what's happening on the front lines. Employee feedback is a priceless tool for measuring business success, helping you improve operations, product development, customer service and recruitment. Not to mention, showing accountability makes you appear trustworthy and relatable to your team.
6. Nurture Creativity
Corporate cultures are stagnant when employees can't explore their ideas and take risks. Engaged workers want to feel invested in company goals, which isn't possible if they have to follow your instructions to the letter. Give your team the flexibility to work on new projects and try different approaches to problem-solving. Good leaders identify the best ideas and turn them into profitable solutions.
7. Show, Don't Tell
Developing talent is a top priority for good leaders. Instead of producing clones who mimic everything you do, coach employees on how to evaluate problems and make productive choices. Let workers take ownership of projects, so they learn to lead and collaborate without constant hand-holding.
8. Be Transparent
Don't leave workers guessing about what they're doing right or wrong. Employees succeed when they understand your expectations and know which goals to prioritize. Performance measurement differs from employer to employer, so clarify what qualities are valued and rewarded in your culture.
Building a team takes continuous effort and willingness to accept responsibility for your mistakes. With practice, you can become a good leader who guides and motivates others, instead of using rank to demand obedience.
Photo courtesy of HAMZA BUTT at Flickr.com