Leadership comes more naturally to some than it does others but why should that be the case? What is it that makes someone a great leader? Here we offer up our top 10 tips on what we think makes a great leader.
1. Earn respect
While there are undoubtedly positions of authority or titles in life that automatically command respect, they tend to be the domain of royalty, war veterans and Nobel Prize winners, not managers or team leaders in the corporate world. Respect is most definitely earned in the workplace and should never be assumed. You will not earn respect by positioning yourself on a pedestal or sitting in an ivory tower. Get to know your workforce, share your knowledge and skills and empower people to do well and you’ll find the respect will follow.
2. Communicate – talk and listen
Effective communication is a two-way thing. Too many times we encounter managers who say they have an open door policy but when the chips are actually down, the workforce is too apprehensive to make their voices heard. This is because there has been a lack of communication and a void has been created between management and those they manage. How can you possibly manage people effectively if you don’t communicate with them on a consistent basis? You may well find that flexible working could make it easier for someone with children to perform their role with less stress, or perhaps another is struggling to find the money for their commute and an interest free season ticket loan would make all the difference. If you don’t have trust and communication, you’ll be in the dark.
3. Engender a no-blame culture
Without this, communication will fail; you will not understand your workforce and you won’t be able to lead effectively. Open communication can only happen when those who want to talk, can do so without fear of reprisal. A no-blame culture will also encourage creativity and initiative, enabling you to get the best out of your staff, which reflects well on you.
4. Be consistent
We all prefer to be around people who are reliable, who keep their word. If you take the time to listen to a member of your team and you agree a plan of action, make sure you follow it through. You will lose respect if you don’t and you’ll generate an atmosphere of mistrust. Be consistent across the board – do not focus only on the bigger issues – sometimes the devil really is in the detail.
5. Be confident
You need to be confident in your own abilities. If you don’t, you will easily feel threatened by those below you who are able and successful. This generates a negative environment where ambition is squashed rather than encouraged. A leader has to believe in his or her strengths and therefore their ability to do their job in order to lead. Don’t show the chinks in your armour to those you manage – be available and open but keep your concerns about your own performance to yourself. Ask your manager for training to help overcome any gaps in your knowledge or skill set but on the face of it, always appear capable.
6. Reward and recognise
We all love a pay-rise and they haven’t exactly been ten a penny recently for the vast majority of us. Times have been tough and budgets have been cut. If your business is doing well though, make sure your staff are recognised and rewarded. If you can’t offer pay increases, perhaps give an additional day in their annual leave allowance, some high street shopping vouchers, a paid-for weekend away – even if it is just a token, it will make the individual involved feel valued and the power of that is often overlooked. Always give those who perform well a pat on the back. It works wonders for self-esteem and staff morale.
7. Empower your workforce
You don’t empower people by crushing their spirit. You empower them by leading from the front and rewarding innovative thinking and hard work. If you know your workforce (which you should if you engage with them), you’ll know which of your team like to be spoon-fed and which like to be more independent. Understand what will empower individuals rather than the team as a collective and you will find it far easier. Sharing your team’s or company’s successes also empowers and motivates staff, as does recognition and reward. You will generate a sense of pride in a job well done and it will help with staff retention – if employees understand that the business is doing well and recognises their efforts, they are more likely to feel engaged and more likely to stay put.
8. Take part and be present
People by and large respect those who are prepared to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in. The best managers are those who understand what it is their employees are doing, either because they have worked in a similar way themselves or because they take the time to communicate with their staff. The bottom line is; you should never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself and if the chips are down and deadlines are tight, get stuck in and help out. You’ll earn respect and build a collaborative working environment, creating a great deal of positivity out of relatively simple actions.
9. Be fair
Apply the same rules to everyone and don’t put any one person on a pedestal – it will demotivate those around them. Be open, reward success and good performance, stick to processes such as appraisals and staff discipline procedures. Also, pay according to ability and experience – if you don’t pay the market rate purely because you think you can get away with it, be mindful of the fact that should those who are underpaid find out, they’ll move on and you’ll incur the costs of recruiting and training replacements. It will also generate ‘bad blood’ within the team – always best to be avoided.
10. Educate and motivate
Always try to offer the opportunity for self-improvement to those in your team who want to progress. Fight for training budgets or look for viable alternatives such as secondments to new teams or offices. Expand or adapt peoples’ roles to be more challenging or introduce new processes – keep things fresh and your team will thank you for it and so will your boss (if you have one!).
The Survey Initiative team are experts in the field of employee research. If you would like to know more about how we can help your organisation with employee engagement, then call us on +44 (0)1255 850051 or visit our website.