The term, leader, has its origins in ‘laeden’ a word from the English of yore. It means, to go before a guide. It also refers to someone, who oversees everything. Whatever it means, the crux of the matter is that the leader is perfectly clear about the right thing to be done at the right time!
Type of Leadership Style
The autocratic leader is always keen to exert his/her authority. The bureaucratic type, only goes by the textbook, or rules and regulations. The servant type gives in to everything that the team wants. However, you are not interested in any of these leadership styles. You would like to be someone, who influences others favorably, or rather, brings about positive transformations in each member of the team. You want to be that effective/extraordinary leader, who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.
Integrity is Integral
People expect a leader to lead by example. It means that he/she should possess qualities that they may admire and emulate. The most important amongst these qualities is integrity. The founder of Quantum Leadership, Sunnie Giles conducted a survey to find out what a team expected from its leader. Almost 70% emphasized upon ethical/moral standards. In other words, the leader would exhibit fairness in his dealings with others. In turn, the people working under him would feel confident that the communication pathway would always be open and clear. For instance, the leader would let the team gain a clear idea about expectations and how to honor them.
Employees feel safe, only when the environment is very special. The leader will treat them fairly, advocate on their behalf whenever necessary, and always act in a way that is good for the business and the team working under him/her. They would never expect the leader to compromise/cheat. The evidence is there in the book, Winners Never Cheat. The author, Jon Huntsman, Sr., is a multibillionaire. He had begun his company with nothing and turned it into a $12 billion commercial venture. The stories of his struggles and interactions are there in the book. According to him, it was not possible to take shortcuts to success.
Transparency is Vital
It is the only way to ensure trust between employer and employee. There must be perfect clarity regarding the organizational objectives/goals, and the challenges confronting the organization. Furthermore, it was important that each team member comprehend how best he/she could contribute to the growth of the establishment and the progress of each team mater. This way, all would be united in terms of values and purpose. It would also enable each team member to reach his/her potential with the help of others and the leader. In turn, employee engagement and morale would be high.
Google’s TGIF meetings demonstrated a unique way of bonding with their employees. Here, they would discuss things, find solutions, and exchange feedback. There were no barriers to interacting directly with the founders, and clearing doubts, if any. Furthermore, employees could share their ideas directly with the top executives, without having to worry about office politics becoming barriers to promotions and progress. The weekly meetings also enabled leaders to express their passion, energy, positivity, and authenticity to everyone in the audience.
Encouragement of Experimentation is Important
You understand your company has several competitors. However, there is a great way to stay ahead of them. It is the pathway to innovation and risk-taking. True, not all ideas work out well. Many flop immediately. Some get off to a slow start, but pick up rapidly. Regardless, employees should not become disheartened to witness the failure of creativity. Creativity may take time to bear fruit, but it must be encouraged. Furthermore, risk-taking should be an important part of achieving organizational objectives. Employees should feel that it is safe and all right to fail. They should never hesitate about sharing their thoughts and ideas with others, because of the perceived/real threat of failure. Instead, they must develop the mindsets that whatever happened, they would strive to make their ideas succeed. Even if they failed, at least, they would have tried.
Amazon has this lesson to teach everyone. It permits its 600,000+ employees to work backward. To explain further, suppose, someone has a great idea. This person must come up with a plan about its impact on customers, how the press would view it, questions that customers could ask, all-round perspectives of impact, etc. It was this freedom to be innovative that permitted the company to come up with schemes, such as AmazonSmile, Prime Now, etc.
Thus, encourage employees to be bold, innovative, and grow in self-confidence.
Help Employees Face Hard Truths
Yes, setbacks do happen. As a good leader, you must teach your employees to move forward, despite them. They must become the people, who show the way to others.
It is equally important to analyze whatever has happened, and face the in-between breakdowns, even if they prove to be hard truths. In case, you have been responsible for those decisions, you must take accountability, while maintaining a spirit of optimism at the same time. It is always possible to work out a new course of action, such that mistakes are not repeated in the future. Employees would be wise not to engage in arguments and disagreements, blaming one another for the failures of things to work out. Instead, they must be positive that they will do better the next time.
Employees must also understand that decision-making is not easy, and so is, adhering firmly to a decision once it is made. You will have to exhibit yourself as a decisive leader, who is ready to view everything from all aspects. The team must help you by engaging in open, one-to-one communication with the other team members, and with you.
Whether a project has succeeded or failed, each one’s contribution must be recognized. Rewards may also be offered, to make everyone feel appreciated. The whole team needs to become more knowledgeable about the company, and what is happening around it. It is important to become emotionally intelligent too, such that feelings and thoughts always remain balanced.
Thus, what will help you become an effective leader?
Certain traits are essential. One is the ability to ‘be curious’ and remain curious. Curiosity will drive you to experiment and find out what works and what does not. It is the same trait that you should pass on to your team. It will also enable the finding of solutions to problems. In fact, curiosity is the trait that will help to push every vision to fruition. Your team and you will take pleasure in examining every strategy and development to the last details, thereby preventing potential setbacks. As your team picks up this habit of curiosity from you, communication will always be honest, engaging, frank, and worthwhile. Apart from this, be simple and charismatic. Always claim that the ‘team comes first’, thereby helping each person to grow to his/her full potential.