Many people aspire to become great leaders. And while there are plenty of books on the topic, I think it’s worth repeating that leadership is ultimately about the quality of individual relationships says Peter Decaprio. After all, without followers who trust and respect you enough to buy into your vision, where would you be? It may sound simple enough—but actually putting these principles into practice can be quite difficult no matter how skilled you are at managing others or motivated you are to lead your team.
The following ten foundational skills will help get you started on the right track. Practice them diligently and keep in mind that every leader has something to learn from good ole trial by fire!
1) Be consistent.
Too often individuals become inconsistent in their roles as leaders. They make promises they fail to keep or start showing up late for work without notice. This breeds frustration among team members who are uncertain about what’s expected of them, and it can cause employees to question your credibility—something you definitely don’t want when you’re trying to influence their behavior.
2) Be present.
Being present means being fully engaged in what others are saying to you. It entails listening intently without interruption, paraphrasing the information that has been communicated, and making sure you understand the message before responding. Well-developed active listening skills show your team that they have your attention even when you’re not speaking—a powerful form of validation!
3) Stay connected.
Being connected means staying aware of personal and professional events that impact team members. If a team member’s child is sick, you might send a small gift accompanied by a card that reads, “I hope your daughter feels better soon.” If another team member has been going through a stressful time at work due to an intense project deadline, consider taking them out for lunch or asking if there is anything you can do to help relieve the stress. When these types of situations are handled with empathy and concern, followers gain confidence in their leader’s commitment to understanding them—which then enhances trust says Peter Decaprio.
4) Be transparent.
Assembling teams around common values and having regular sessions with team members where everyone is encouraged to speak upbuilds cohesion within a group. As a leader, it is your job to be transparent about why these sessions are being on hold and how what is share will be use to achieve common goals.
5) Stay focused on the vision.
Staying focused on a clearly defined vision helps team members think they have a stake in achieving success as they can see where their efforts fit into the big picture. By keeping everyone accountable for contributing toward the achievement of this vision. You ensure that there is no confusion or wondering “what if”. When it comes time to move forward—people simply know what needs to be over and go do it!
6) Be clear about the desired outcomes.
Building a strong, unified team means defining clearly what results should achieve and how they will be measuring. This helps define accountability for all members of the group and it ensures that everyone is working toward a common goal.
7) Be decisive.
When you lead from a place of certainty, there’s no need to second-guess your decisions or worry about hurt feelings if you have to make a difficult decision involving people on your team—making you more confident in your leadership approach. But don’t confuse decisiveness with being bossy or inflexible; good leaders know how to course-correct when appropriate so that their teams feel valued. Even when they receive critical feedback or get redirecting down a different path explains Peter Decaprio.
8) Be supportive.
Your role as a leader is to support your team members in achieving their goals, but sometimes the best way to do this is by being “an obstacle” or challenge for them—forcing them to think outside of their norm and consider a solution that may not have even been on their radar. Great leaders allow team members room to grow by encouraging experimentation and recognizing innovation when they see it.
9) Empower your team.
Great leaders never take credit for other people’s accomplishments! So give credit where credit is due by acknowledging how hard everyone has worked. To achieve success and celebrate victories with the whole group. At least with those most closely involved in completing a project successfully. Doing so will encourage everyone to work harder in the future, knowing that their individual contributions have value.
10) Be optimistic.
Attitude is everything! And people are attract to upbeat, positive leaders who are confident. That the goals they set for themselves and others will achieve says Peter Decaprio. People want to follow someone who believes in them and makes them feel comfortable taking risks. This is critical if you want your team members to keep moving forward even when facing adversity or uncertainty. Being optimistic means having confidence in yourself and your ability to lead. But also being patient with team members when progress takes longer than expected. Or requires extra time and effort on everyone’s part.
With these ten tips in mind, you can avoid some of the most common pitfalls that plague new leaders. If you can demonstrate these qualities consistently. You’ll be able to inspire your team members to follow your lead and work together toward common goals. And isn’t that really the goal of leadership?