During a working day (and sometimes even after that), a manager has to solve dozens of large and small problems, communicate with different people, analyze, plan, work on several tasks at the same time, track deadlines and respond to any surprises that may happen.
And the overall success of leaders and their teams largely depends on how successfully a manager copes with all these tasks. To do your job and to do it well, you need a whole set of different skills, knowledge, and abilities.
Leadership is not always easy (in fact, almost never). And thus here we share with you our tips and tricks on how to improve and enhance leadership skills and become a good leader.
List of Character Features You Must Have
Before we move on to the development of a specific action plan, we should formulate the list of the necessary qualities that are needed for a manager. A good leader must have innovative thinking and a broad outlook; this person should be able to look at working moments from different angles. The list of qualities of a leader should definitely include the following:
- the flexibility of thinking and creativity;
- discipline and determination;
- ability to interact with people;
- developed emotional intelligence;
- desire to improve;
- courage and determination;
These are the basic qualities of a good leader. Having got them, you will be able to improve the necessary qualities: responsibility balance, the ability to control emotions and recognize them in other people, the ability to work in a team, lead people, clearly formulate tasks and plans, analyze and plan.
Leadership Development Plan
And now let's move on to a specific development plan for a beginning (and not only) manager:
Step 1. Define your goals. All managers know that any work begins with setting goals and formulating tasks. It’s all the same in this case – as a leader, you must master some skills, never stop improving your professionalism, never stop learning new skills and lead others. It all starts with a simple goal setting. A study of Harvard business school showed that those who wrote their CLEAR goals on paper were much more successful compared to those who did not pay any attention to this issue.
Step 2. Analyze your qualities at the current time. Now when you have formulated your tasks, you should analyze what skills you have now and at what level. It is crucial to analyze your strengths and weaknesses honestly. It will help you identify areas that you should improve, as well as understand what to change in your actions and behavior. Start this by asking, “What kind of leader am I?”
- Perhaps you are a person who leads others in your own example, and you do not pay too much attention to the work of other people.
- Or maybe you are such a leader that helps to solve problems, and also behaves more actively and is more involved in the affairs of the others.
- Or you are a good team player, helping other people get along with each other and working together more efficiently is another way to show leadership.
Step 3. Get feedback from your team. Of course, no one knows you better than yourself. But, sometimes it is handy to look at yourself from aside, with the eyes of other people – the members of your team. Perhaps there are things that you don’t notice or ignore, but significant to your people, so they notice them. Your team can be the source of useful information for you as a leader. This information will help you to improve yourself.
- Tell your team that you are working to develop your leadership skills.
- Conduct an anonymous survey: ask about the things that you do well and those that are worse and need some improving, ask what they like, and the things they don't like.
- Meet one-on-one with your direct subordinates and ask them to tell what would make you a better leader.
Step. 4 Identify areas that need improvement. So, you have collected factual information from various sources, and now you need to answer the vital question: "which leadership qualities are you strong in and which ones you need to improve?" Using the answers to the questions, divide your leadership skills into three parts. First are the qualities that you consider to be very strong. The second one identifies which areas require a little improvement. And the third one shows the areas that are very weak and need more attention.
- For example, you can notice the thoughts and feelings of colleagues and accept the opinions of other people, your openness and involvement in relationships with people will most likely be your strengths.
- If you do not help others to maximize their potential and do not communicate as effectively as you would like, these skills require some improvement.
- These leadership qualities can be divided into more general areas of communication: inspiration and showing an example for others, openness, teamwork, and interaction.
Step 6. Make a training plan for yourself – study and develop continuously. Knowledge is the new currency. Learning yourself is quite tricky and time-consuming; besides, the desired result is not guaranteed in this case. Therefore, it is much more efficient to attend various master classes, business events. Here's an example of accredited CPE & CPD leadership courses from training institute in Dubai. This institute provides training courses not only on the development of leadership qualities, but also on such important subjects as business communication, business development, emotional intelligence, and more. Whatever is required, you should have a plan for your training, which determines where, when and how you will improve this or that skill.
It is important to remember that a leader should never stop training. Progress never ends, new technologies, techniques, practices appear almost every day, and to remain a truly effective leader, they must continuously master them.
Some more practical tips for a good leader
- Organize your day. According to the results of several practical studies, an average office employee spends less than 50% of working time on some useful work. This is, of course, an average indicator, and a manager most likely works more, but still. Analyze the effectiveness of your working calendar, how well you organize your workday according to the main priorities. Do you have time for training, for a systematic analysis of a situation in your company, for planning? Delegate things that can be delegated. Automate your work wherever it is possible.
- Learn how to communicate with your employees. People are diverse, so you must find a personal approach to each one of them. A well-known British speaker Nigel Risner came up with his method of communication – “zoo around us.” Your team is a zoo with four types of animals – lions, monkeys, elephants, and dolphins. Each type of animal is a specific character. Lions are persistent and arrogant leaders, monkeys are funny and energetic creators, elephants are calm and picky skeptics, and dolphins are friendly and welcoming peacekeepers in your team. A leader is a zoo ranger! Successful and effective teamwork depends on the leader’s ability to communicate correctly with each type of animal.
- Show it on your example. Any of your work systems will not be fully effective if you do not adhere to the rules yourself. For example, if you regularly late for work without any good reason, you should not expect that your employees will behave in a different manner. Show people what you need with your example. There is nothing worse than the following position: "Do as I tell you, but not as I do." This advice seems simple, but it’s not easy to follow it in practice. You will have to adhere to the same standards and rules that you require your subordinates to comply with. The position of a leader does not mean that you are allowed any privileges.
- Learn to praise and reward. To be a good leader, you have to give feedback to your employees – skillfully praise and reward. If you appreciate something, be specific. Instead of saying “You did your job perfectly,” highlight what precisely this person did. For example: “This project was challenging for the client, but the way you presented the importance and necessity of this project to the whole team led us to success. Well done".
- Be open. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 25% of employees in the US do not trust their managers. This is bad for teamwork. Employees who do not trust their leaders and companies will never defend and adequately represent the interests of their company. Be open; share your plans and ideas. If the situation is complicated and everything is terrible – it’s better to talk about it right now so that everyone understands where things are going. If you are not satisfied with the work of a particular person, it is better to tell him/her about it, preferably at a personal meeting.
To be a successful leader, you will need to organize work in several areas at once: planning, organization, communication, control, and development. An integrated approach is important here, and leadership skills are required for this. Therefore your leadership skills must be improved.
The above recommendations will help novice managers who seek to improve their leadership skills, gain the trust and respect of their team members.