Leadership is a manner by which individual influences thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors of others. Leaders help people what lies ahead; they help the team to visualize what they might accomplish. Demands for more leadership and more effective leadership are continually heard in all the fields. Without leadership, a group of human beings degenerates into argument and conflict, because each one of us possesses a perspective and leans toward different solutions. Leadership takes the whole team in the same direction and harnesses the efforts of team members jointly. Through effective leadership, one can get the people to accomplish something important that they probably won’t do otherwise.
There are a few skills a leader needs to have to energize people toward a goal and bring out the best in his team. Following are the seven skills a leader should acquire to be successful in leading a team at work:
No leader can be a hundred percent effective as each of them lacks one or the other attributes. A leader can lead without any hindrance though lacks many things. But lack of integrity is a genuine threat. Integrity is one of the essential qualities that cannot be neglected. The success of any organization relies on the integrity of the leader. All the decisions revolve around that aspect.
Honor and truthfulness are the fundamental principles of integrity. A leader with integrity pulls in others towards him because he is trustworthy, and he can be relied upon. People with integrity behave honorably even when no one is watching because it is a principle.
An important aspect of integrity is keeping a promise. A leader has to walk the talk. If he keeps on procrastinating, he ends up losing the trust of his people. The leader should be non-judgmental as well. Being non-judgmental doesn’t mean ignoring the undesirable conduct but still, care for the person without any bias. A leader can impact his team greatly if he can give the credit to his team. This will improve the morale of the team and motivates them to perform better next time. The leader should be transparent without any pretense or deceit. Open dialogue enables the leader to improve the efficiency and profitability of the business.
A good leader can motivate others to meet organizational goals through his conduct and communication with others. A leader with integrity motivates through his ethical behavior. A person is valued and followed only if others trust him. In this sense, Integrity is one of the most important traits of leadership in society. A leader with integrity ought to be emotionally neutral. If he cannot be a fair witness and is attached to his success, he cannot be a good role model to his subordinates.
2. Communication Skills
Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr says, “Communication is fundamental to leadership. If I got the chance to start over again, I would go back to school and learn to become a better communicator. This is paramount to getting anything accomplished and I would have been a better leader.”
The emphasis on communication skills is not a new thing for leading a team at work. The renowned kingmaker Kautilya stressed the significance of verbal and non-verbal communication skills long ago. His teaching holds true for modern management. Even today we can find that great leaders are likewise incredible communicators. There are many instances where people suffered because of a lack of communication skills.
In today’s globalized world, companies from different countries have to work on a common platform and survive in the world of competition. Therefore, the need has aroused and clearly understood that to win the race they have to ace the communication skill.
An effective team leader should have the following qualities to communicate effectively:
- Clarity: Effective leaders communicate with simple language. They should not be ambiguous while communicating what they want. A leader ought to communicate clearly about the goals, and responsibilities.
- Personalization: Individuals always feel good when they are made important. A leader should speak directly to a person speaking to one person at a time. Knowing the team members on a more personal level can go a long way in getting the team beyond the vision.
- Transparency: Effective leaders are transparent in their communication. When there is transparency in communication in all directions, it enhances credibility, trust, and efficiency. There shouldn’t be any hidden agendas. When a leader cannot share the whole information they need to reveal the same, because half-truth will bring about distrust and anxiety.
- Listening: communication is a two-way road. Communication isn’t confined to speaking alone. A leader must also know how to listen. It is indeed an essential part of communication. A leader should listen to the interest of his team and understand their perspective. When a leader listens, he gets total commitment from the people he leads and more trust will be built.
- Feedback: A leader should not assume whatever message he wanted to convey, is understood the same way. He should cross-check if their message was understood correctly, the way he wants his team to understand him. The leader should not blame the subordinates for misunderstanding. A genuine leader is accountable for his words and actions.
Delegation is a process where a leader assigns some duties to his team members. The process often incorporating involves team members in the decision-making process. The leader gives enough authority to his team members to carry out the assigned task and holds them responsible for the satisfactory completion of the job.
One individual cannot do all the jobs. For instance, in restaurants, there are many people to perform various duties. One person parks the car of the customers. Another person welcomes and takes the order. A supplier serves the food. Meanwhile, the chef is busy chopping vegetables and the dishwashers are busy washing the plates, glasses, and other vessels to make sure they are spotless. This is possible because each member of the team is very much aware of their predefined duty, and working as a team to meet a common goal.
When a leader has the attitude that he can work faster, or nobody can work in a way that is better than him and decides not to delegate any task as he never got satisfactory outcomes in the past, he is not called a successful leader. In addition to that, if he thinks that there isn’t any person who can perform the task or doesn’t want others to outshine him he is leading to the path of failure as a leader.
A leader’s performance is judged not by the work he does but by the output he gets from his team. The challenge leader faces while delegating the work is that often they reach that position by doing the task. Now they have to battle with the transition from “doing” to “making things done”
By delegating, a leader can work closely with his team members and help them to learn and develop. By giving them opportunities, a leader can connect with his workers, improving morale and motivation. This results in higher job satisfaction. Employees perform better when their leader trusts them.
A good delegation often starts with delegating the work to the right person while leading a team at work. Not all people are equally fit for performing a specific task. The leader needs to identify the strengths and weaknesses of his team members and delegate tasks accordingly.
At the same time, the leader should delegate the complete task and provide full training for the task. A team member is more willing to do a task if the delegated work helps him grow in his profession. The leader should also monitor the task and assign full authority and responsibility to the subordinate while assigning the task. However, the leader should ensure that the person is not allotted with extra tasks and make him overworked.
Suggested Read: 10 Most Important Leadership Skills for Team Success
4. Confidence in Team
The success of a leader relies on his ability to inspire his subordinates while leading a team. In this regard, the leader who has confidence in his team may have an advantage over those who doubt. There is no denying the fact that a leader gains a lot by having self-confidence. However, as per the research findings, a leader also gains more if he transmits an aura of confidence among his team members.
Besides, the leader’s confidence in the team’s abilities additionally adds to the confidence of team members that results in better performance. As per the research on contagion effects, it is proved that the behavior and emotional states of leaders can automatically spread to their followers.
In one of the experiments conducted by Katrien Franson and his fellow researchers, they created different scripts concerning the response of the leader, such as high confidence condition, neutral team confidence, and low confidence condition. The result revealed that when the leader expressed high team confidence, players were more positive about the team’s abilities and the team’s odds of success.
At the point when the leader’s expression in the team’s confidence certainly stayed neutral, there were no huge changes in team players’ confidence between the first and second sessions. When the leader expressed low team confidence, players also had lower confidence in their team.
When a leader expresses his confidence in his team, it not only builds the self-confidence of each team member, but even the team members start having more confidence among them. When a leader cultivates the feeling of “we” and “us” among team members, it not only feels good but also energizes the performance of the team by making leading a team an easy task.
A leader’s confidence in the team influences them and empowers the team. At the same time, the absence of confidence on the side of the leader drives team members to doubt their leader, and they distance themselves from the leader which affects their performance. Therefore, the leader needs to articulate a belief that “we will be champions” to lead successfully.
5. Decision Making
Decision-making is undoubtedly one of the important skills needed for a leader. The success and failure of an organization majorly rely upon taking the right decision at the right time. Not taking any decision when it is profoundly required is worse than making a bad decision.
There are many instances where the leader had taken the organization to the valley of failure by not making a decision. In one such case, a CFO was terminated because of his poor people skills. However, the CEO couldn’t settle on a decision on finding a replacement. Accordingly, the company lost its internal control, and the budgeting process turned into a wreck. As a result, the board of directors lost their trust in the CEO.
There are benefits in decision-making when we try to get better in leading a team. The first benefit is that it saves a lot of time. In a world where time is money, it is essential to save time so that the same time can be utilized for some other purpose. Taking a quick decision keeps away from over-thinking. The subsequent benefit is the respect one gets by taking a decision.
At the point when the subordinates see that their leader is very effective in decision-making, they feel good and trust that their boss leads them in the right direction. Not all individuals feel comfortable while taking a decision. Even then, a leader has to take it until they make it so his subordinates get motivated and empowered and bring about better productivity at work.
Sometimes it is important for an individual in any leadership position to take the charge and not to leave it to the discretion of his subordinates just to evade conflicts. When the subordinates are not sure about how to do a particular task and invest more time in debating than accomplishing the actual work, the leader has to step in and make a decision for them to guide them.
A decision is required whenever there is a problem. Even though it is hard to make the right decision all the time, the following seven steps help the individuals to arrive at a better outcome.
Step 1: Identification
Before taking any decision, one has to identify a problem and decide that a solution has to be found. The problem statement on which the decision ought to be taken should not be vague. Since a specific goal has to be achieved, the leader has to make sure that the problem identification is measurable and timely so that they meet the goal at the end of the process.
Step 2: Collection of Relevant Information
When the decision is identified, one needs to gather all the information revolving around that decision. A leader needs to do an internal assessment in his organization concerning past success and failure in regard to that decision. Apart from that, he should also do some markets research through various accessible sources. However, one must ensure that he doesn’t get hindered by such a good deal of information that complicates the process.
Step 3: Identification of Alternatives
After having relevant information, one ought to choose between the alternatives. Sometimes if there are two potential solutions, either one of them can be chosen or can combine both.
Step 4: Cross Checking the Evidence
After finding numerous alternatives, now the task is to gauge the evidence for or against the said alternatives. It should be checked whether such a decision had a positive outcome in the organization or if they had failed.
Step 5: Choosing Among the Alternative
This is the part of deciding the decision-making process. After considering all the upsides and downsides, the potential way has arrived.
Step 6: Taking Action
Once the decision is made, the time has come to take action. A plan should be developed to make the decision tangible and achievable.
Step 7: Review
After a certain amount of time, one should return to the initial step where the problem on which the decision needs to be made is defined. One should cross-check if the problem is solved.
6. Being Proactive
Someone once observed: “There are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch what happens, and those who wonder what happened.”
Proactive people belong to the first category those who makes thing happen. When reactive leaders deal with situations as they come, proactive leaders anticipate situations and plan likewise. Being proactive improves results and encourages a joyful working environment.
Proactive leaders don’t expect that situations should always be under their control. But they develop a strong team that has problem-solving capabilities. A proactive leader inspires his team to adapt to the situation and to do what should be done and what is appropriate. They give sincere feedback and expect team members to be honest and full of integrity. They receive the best output by expecting it.
Proactive leaders prioritize and execute activities accordingly. They tend to take initiative for important assignments having faith in both their capabilities and the capabilities of their teammates. They plan very well and have a back-up plan on the off chance plan A doesn’t work. Focusing on the goal of the organization, they ask for help when needed.
Most leaders are without a doubt knowledgeable in their fields, however, nobody can know everything. Proactive leaders don’t attempt to force their way into projects or areas they don’t understand. In turn, they look for guidance and help from teammates who know in a way that is better than them and get projects done.
Being proactive means not losing calm and finding a way to accomplish the goals assigned by the organization. Proactive leaders are not afraid of change. They embrace change and make the necessary corrections to achieve success. They strongly believe that they can create positive results despite the circumstance. They manage both themselves and their team well and inspire the team members.
Proactive leaders manage their stress levels and can positively transform their workplace. By planning the task, they stop running from one disaster to another and rather work in a goal-oriented, team-based atmosphere.
Until recently, strategy was viewed as the foremost skill for success. The future of a business could fit into an established framework within organizations. One can accomplish success by managing well. Today, there is more uncertainty. What will occur in the next quarter is quite difficult to foresee let alone focusing on decisions that will play out in one to five years. As a result, a leader should be innovative to learn to operate in challenging, unpredictable circumstances.
There are six innovative thinking skills a leader needs to develop to accomplish the goals of his team. Understanding each of these skills opens doors for new approaches and solutions.
- Focus: First impressions and assumptions don’t give the whole picture. Hence, they don’t help to arrive at the accurate assessment or best solution. Paying attention is the ability to notice the unnoticed. A leader should look and listen from a new perspective.
- Personalizing: A leader should not underestimate his personal experience. A leader should draw on his interests, hobbies, or vocation to see if he could apply them to work.
- Imaging: Images work as a better tool than words to process information. Imagery is an effective way to make sense of complexity and a vast amount of data. Pictures, stories, metaphors, impressions are a powerful tool for explaining situations, constructing ideas, and communicating effectively.
- Serious Play: To get out of the rigid process of business thinking and routine work, it requires bending some rules and having some good times. Leaders should generate knowledge and insight through nontraditional ways such as free exploration, improvisation, experimentation so that work feels like play. However, it yields serious results.
- Collaborative inquiry: Innovation is not the consequence of one genius. Insight comes through thoughtful, nonjudgmental sharing of ideas. Collaborative inquiry is a method of consistent, effective conversation with the individuals who are the stakeholders of the situation. Getting different perspectives can bring about complexity, yet it is likewise the source of great opportunity. This process involves asking searching questions and exercising critical thinking without always expecting immediate answers.
- Crafting: Scott Fitzgerald once said, “The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Innovation demands to shed either/or thinking and see the whole including the opposition and open to a third (or fourth or fifth) solution. This practice of crafting allows the leader to lead and resolve contradictions and paradoxes.
– Vikram Nayak