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#1 Key To Becoming An Effective Leader

#1 Key To Becoming An Effective Leader

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Leaders and followers are linked – you cannot have one without the other. Becoming an effective leader requires figuring out how to create a following and motivate them to produce for you.

Related: How To Identify Who You Are As A Leader

To do that, you first need to understand what makes a great leader tick.

Attributes Of Great Leaders

Effective leadership is not the same as good management. In order to effectively run an organization, management must be able to plan a strategy, communicate a vision, inspire others to action and solve problems. Effective leadership is based on behaviors that bring about empowerment and change.

Great leaders develop loyal followings by developing these four interpersonal leadership techniques:

  1. Listening: Followers want to be heard. They need feedback and support in order to succeed in their roles. Leaders who have their followers’ best interests at heart listen to them carefully. This means paying attention to body language and facial expressions, demonstrating empathy and asking for input.
  2. Communicating: It’s not really possible to be a poor communicator and a great leader. Outstanding communicators tell the truth, encourage dialog, are clear and specific and remain open to others’ opinions.
  3. Persuading: Persuasion is framing your ideas and solutions in a way that makes your followers believe in them. Convincing others to take action is an essential leadership skill, but before you can persuade you must establish credibility.
  4. Collaborating: Collaborative leaders trust in their followers, allow them to take risks, and make mistakes and give them the tools they need to succeed. They use influence rather than authority to make things happen.

Leadership can be found at any level of an organization. You don’t have to be a manager to be a leader.

Addressing The Needs Of Your Followers

All great leaders were followers at some point. To strengthen your leadership, take time to remember what it was like to be a follower and recognize the needs you then had. Tap into these feelings to address the needs of your followers:

  • Trust – Trust is a huge factor that is built through authenticity, integrity, transparency, and respect. Trust is the basis of the relationship a leader has with his or her followers.
  • Significance – Followers want to feel like they matter and that their contributions are important to realizing the vision set by their leader.
  • Compassion – Demonstrating that you really care about your followers will give them the incentive to fully engage in their work.
  • Stability – Stability gives people confidence that the organization is headed in the right direction. It makes them feel that a year from now, they will be as well or better off than they currently are.
  • Hope – Leaders provide hope for a better future, which incentivizes followers to work towards it.

In addition to knowing what their followers need, leaders are in tune with their own needs and beliefs.

What Do Leaders Believe?

Great leaders believe that people want to excel. They create an environment in which success is not only possible, but also contagious. Great leaders believe that putting the right person in the right job is essential and that diverse teams are more innovative than homogeneous teams. Great leaders also believe in change; they push themselves to learn and grow and recognize that organizations often need to renew themselves.

The best leaders are also in touch with their personal values. They know that, in a perpetually changing world of business challenges, it’s essential to have a guiding force upon which to base decisions. Have you identified your personal values? Knowing what you believe is essential to strong, consistent leadership.

How Do Your Leadership Skills Measure Up?

Leadership techniques can be developed, but how do you know how well yours measure up? The essential elements of leadership, including giving feedback and support, changing behaviors and working toward common goals, can be measured in your followers’ outcomes.

By studying relevant data (sales volumes, costs, productivity, and profitability) and having teams utilize self-assessment tools, you can get both broad-based and specific insights into your leadership ability. Try providing your teams with questionnaires, conducting interviews and having group discussions to gauge their level of engagement, pride, and understanding of the team’s goals. You’ll gather valuable information that can lead to more effective leadership.

This post was originally published at an earlier date.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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Dean Vella Dean Vella writes about business and leadership on behalf of University Alliance, a facilitator of online certificate programs in leadership and management.