A business can only be as good as its leader is. As the business owner or leader, your leadership skills are always being tested, whether that’s by your team, third-party organisations, customers/clients, or even (and hopefully) by yourself.
Leading a group of individuals is a constant and never-ending challenge, but for the most part, it is a learned skill which you can constantly improve on. And if you want your business to become better, then it is a skill you should be improving on.
Here are 6 of the skills I have noticed in some of my best clients, and ones that any business owner, manager or leader of any kind should be at least thinking about.
Skill 1: Connecting With The Team
As Richard Branson said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” Effective business leaders should learn to connect with their team as this is the most effective way which trust can be developed within a work environment. A working culture of trust and accountability is the first step in creating a loyal and fulfilled team.
In order for you to do this, you have to present your team with a leader who is human. This requires having and showcasing characteristics such as positivity, purpose, empathy, compassion, and humility.
Skill 2: Communicating in a Meaningful Way
As the old adage says, the key to any good relationship is communication, and this is no different in the work setting. As a leader, you need to understand how to effectively communicate to your team in all manner of scenarios, be it positive or negative. In order to do this, you need to spend time listening and speaking to your team to ensure that any queries or challenges they may have are always visible to you.
Meaningful communication allows you to break down barriers between you and your team. Some ways which will allow you to do so are to ask more open than closed questions, avoid providing defensive answers, and to invest in spending time with your team. Nurture your team’s ideas, by listening to them and challenging them.
Additionally, if there is something you are questioning, ask your team for feedback. This type of constructive communication will allow your team to be comfortable with coming to you for help, as well as building a culture of mutual trust and respect in the workplace.
Skill 3: Being An Example
An effective business leader is able to showcase what is expected of the team, by being the example, rather than just telling people what to do.
Every day, you need to step up and show your employees what you want them to do, by doing it yourself. If you want your employees to challenge the status quo, make sure that you strive to do the same, and if you want your employees to be able to come to you for your opinion and help, engage them when you need your ideas challenged.
There is nothing less inspiring than having a leader who is all talk and no walk. Be the person which your team looks up to and constantly thrives to match.
Skill 4: Delegating to Empower
One important skill which you need to develop, as a leader, is the ability to delegate. Ensure you do not fall into the trap of micro-managing and instead show that you trust your team by delegating tasks to them which are both meaningful and challenging. This helps your team feel trusted and empowered, and allows them to develop their own skills. Click here to download our tips for delegating effectively + a simple (and free) tool for keeping on top of projects with your team.
Business development coaches argue that delegation is not just the art of getting others to do work for you, it is the ability for an individual to help others around them contribute and develop themselves on a daily basis. Empower your employees with the ability to make real and positive change, and they will constantly strive to showcase that the trust you placed in them is well-founded, which furthers their own skills and career in the process.
Skill 5: Knowing When To Follow
One of the most important characteristics of a good leader is their ability to recognise that those around them may be more well-versed in some aspects of the business. You should be hiring team members that are better than you at the things you are weakest at.
Take the time to engage your team and learn from them. An effective leader is someone who surrounds themselves with talented individuals, and if you do so, there will be no doubt that these individuals will be able to teach you a thing or two.
Skill 6: Self-Evaluation & Improvement
It cannot be overstated how important it is for you to consistently take the time out to take stock of your own leadership abilities. The main thing about this activity is to not only understand what you lack, but to also celebrate the areas in which you excel.
To do this, you only need to try ask yourself a few simple questions:
- Am I a good listener?
- Do I take enough risks?
- Do I take the time out to engage with and recognise those around me?
However, as always, the way you see yourself may be very different to how you come across to others, and this is the reason why you should always aim to gain feedback from those around you as well.
This does not mean just your employees, but your friends, associates, mentors, family, etc. Everyone who engages with you will be able to give you an opinion about characteristics and traits which allow you to be a more effective business leader.
Do you listen enough to those around you? Do they trust you enough to come to you with their issues? These are all things which are transferrable to being a leader in the workplace.
Running a successful business takes a great deal of hard work. However, if you are able to be an effective business leader, and develop a positive team culture from doing so, you will have won half the battle. Leadership is a skill which is in constant development throughout your career. You will always have gaps in your leadership abilities, however, as long as you understand what they are and constantly aim to improve that, your team will only respond to that positively.
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