Leaders are often thrust into their positions. They are promoted; they are entrepreneurs whose businesses grow and require employment of others. All of a sudden they must lead others, and that can be a scary prospect. If this is you, relax. Over time, you will adjust and adapt and get the help you need to become a good leader. For the moment, however, there are some things that you can do to survive. While great leaders all have a large repertoire of skills and traits, they all also incorporate these 5 strategies into their leadership approaches. So, here are those strategies – you can implement them right now if you stay mindful of the behaviors that they require.
While this may not be considered a strategy per se, the behaviors that come from having integrity are. Leaders with integrity are honest with their team members. They do not cheat; they do not cut corners; they do not slough off while all others are busting their butts. Instead, they have a set of principles for work that they model for their subordinates, and then they can expect the same from those subordinates. For example, if a project is going to have big challenges and require extra hours to meet a deadline, the leader is right there, working along with his/her team. And ordering the pizza or the Chinese goes without saying. A leader with integrity is admired by his subordinates.
2. Time Management
Strategies for time management should be a big priority. How do you schedule your day? Do you have a plan? Has that plan resulted in a prioritized list of the tasks to be accomplished by the end of the day? With each new project, time management comes into play. What is the timeline for project completion? How will it be broken down into manageable tasks that are then assigned to team members? How will you monitor the time management of others as they fulfill their responsibilities? What resources can you acquire that will streamline mundane tasks and help your team members streamline theirs as well? There are many facets to time management but they all begin with one thing – a plan.
Like time management, there are a number of elements in effective communication and each is a strategy that you must incorporate:
- Holding regular meetings with your team will be critical to forming good relationships with them. They need to understand your priorities and expectations, and you need to know what they need to do their jobs. When in the midst of a project, everyone needs to share his/her update. If there are issues or challenges, meetings in which everyone has an opportunity to make suggestions and team members can collaborate in creative problem-solving serve to solidify relationships among team members. And your willingness to listen endears you to them. They need to have a stake, and having the ability to be totally open with you will encourage “ownership” in all that the team must accomplish.
- Meetings with individual team members is another critical element. First, you need to get a “feel” for each member’s strengths, challenges, likes and dislikes. You also need to communicate that you care about each individual on a personal level. You want them to feel comfortable addressing any issues with you openly; there are times when employees’ have personal circumstances or crises which may impact their performance. They need to know that you are a leader with empathy and a willingness to be flexible when necessary. This is how you gain loyalty and trust.
- Praise is an element of communication too. When there is a job well done, an employee wants to know that you recognize and appreciate that. Be honest about praise and provide it when warranted. And if you are not able to hand out a material reward, then give that employee something else – half a day off will do nicely.
Leaders communicate with words and behaviors. Make sure that your communication strategies are encouraging openness, an atmosphere of trust, and confidence in team members’ abilities.
To have leadership skills means that you have the ability to delegate tasks appropriately. These are the strategies that you must implement:
- You have taken the time to know each team member as an individual. And because you have done this, you have the information you need to delegate tasks. When you break down a project into smaller task responsibilities, assign them according to strengths and taking into account what members like to do.
- If you find skill deficits as you monitor task completion, see to it that the individual has the opportunity for training and coaching. This sends a strong message that you are invested in your people. When they know this, they will work harder and invest themselves in what needs to be accomplished.
5. Being a Servant
Employee morale is something you never want to damage. And a large part of keeping morale high is your willingness to be of service to your team. It is your responsibility to ask them what would make their jobs easier. It is your job to find the resources they need and to work alongside them when “crunch” time comes. It is your job to turn their complaints into problem-solving opportunities. When you do these things, then you can keep your expectations for their performance high and they will do what is necessary to meet those expectations – they are loyal and committed because you are to them.