If you run a business, being a leader is part of the job, although everyone can become a better leader. Just look at the post-career success that is currently enjoyed by famous leaders like Sir Alex Ferguson – he now spends some of his time helping people learn how to be better leaders.
Here are eight common leadership traits and skills that every leader should have. Sometimes it is easy to let them slip as you juggle life’s pressures, so it is worthwhile to recalibrate every so often.
- Be An Example
If you want your team to do something, you should be willing to do it yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to do elements of your employee’s jobs directly. Instead it is about standards – punctuality, approach to tasks, tone of voice, dress code, passion, etc. If you set the standard for these things, your team will naturally follow.
- Share Success, Shoulder Blame
Bad leaders take the credit when things go wrong, and hog the limelight when things go well. This is demoralising for employees. It is much better to share success, and accept responsibility when things go wrong, particularly in public or group situations.
- Improve Communication
Your team will work much more effectively, and their morale will be improved, if you communicate with them effectively. That doesn’t mean holding longer meetings or sending emails at 4pm on Sunday afternoons. Instead it means keeping them in the loop, including them in the decision making process, and ensuring they know what is expected.
- Define Goals, Assign Roles, Set Targets
The quickest way for a business to become stagnated is when there are no clear goals. You must set them for the short, medium and long term. You should communicate them with your employees, and then assign roles based on skills, experience, and ability to deliver. Finally, you should set targets to ensure your goals are achieved within an acceptable time-frame. This will keep everyone moving positively and in the right direction.
- Learn As Much About Your Industry As You Can
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy
It doesn’t matter how much you know about your industry, products, or business; you don’t know everything. All great leaders through history have known this, and have approached learning as a lifelong pursuit. This is good for personal development, but it also instils confidence in your team. They look to you for knowledge and advice as well as inspiration, support and leadership. The only way you can give that to them over the long term is to have a passion for learning.
- Show Empathy
One thing is for certain in business – things will go wrong. Sometimes those things are minor blips, while others are major disasters, but hiccups, problems, and mistakes always happen. When they do you should try to show empathy. For the most part, people want to do the right thing, i.e. they don’t deliberately set out to make a mistake. Having compassion for the person when things go wrong, while being hard on the mistake or bad result, will give you a better understanding of why the problem occurred. This will help you prevent it in the future.
- Understand Strengths, Develop Weaknesses
Just because a member of your team is enthusiastic and ambitious doesn’t mean they are able for all tasks. Belief is not the same thing as ability. You need to recognise the difference in individual members of your team. You can then work to improve the weaknesses to bring them up to a level that matches the ambition.
- Demonstrate Unwavering Focus
The final point is another common trait of most leaders – having an unshakeable focus on the goal. This will rub off on members of your team making them more driven and passionate for success.
If you need help or advice with any aspect of your business please contact a member of the Gilroy Gannon team today.