7 Steps to Becoming a Truly Effective Leader
According to a recent Gallup poll, managers account for approximately 70 percent of variance within employee engagement levels. Truly effective leaders are able to seamlessly inspire, coach and discipline employees in ways that drive profits, efficiency and teamwork.
There is no single leadership style that is ultimately perfect. Effective leaders adjust their leadership style to maximize results from their subordinates within the contexts of their company and industry. In a competitive production environment, a leader who focuses on accumulating technical knowledge and provides hands-on support will most likely win the respect of their subordinates. However, a leader in a professional environment, such as a law or finance firm, will most likely benefit from acting more of a mentor with a relaxed managerial approach.
In order to drive results and engage employees, leaders must be bold with effective leadership skills. However, boldness shouldn’t involve aggression, but instead radiates self-confidence. Bold leaders are able to get the attention of their own bosses while also professionally enforcing rules and policies with subordinates. Criticism and competition may be fierce, but leaders shouldn’t be afraid expressing their opinions, making mistakes and honestly apologizing when they are wrong. Leaders who have the courage to push the limits while being humble enough to accept advice will excel in any position.
Understand People’s Needs
The most effective leaders understand how to meet the basic needs of people. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs correctly places survival and security needs at the bottom of the pyramid. In the business world, this translates to trust, hope, stability and compassion. Leaders with a strong sense of integrity will quickly earn the trust and respect of their employees. Leaders who actively guide and support their employees will inspire hope and resilience. Finally, compassion and understanding will elicit loyalty while consistent fairness creates an environment of stability.
Leaders may not be HR professionals, but they must understand the importance of selecting the right employees for the right jobs. Leaders who surround themselves with the right people will be able to effectively maximise their skills, talents and experiences. This is because the best leaders realize that they personally do not need to be proficient in everything because they just need to be able to choose talented people with top skills. Bear in mind that productivity is a result of talent combined with the right rewards and expectations.
Invest in Strengths
One of the most effective leadership skills is the ability to invest in and manage employee’s strengths. Companies that ignore individual’s’ strengths will experience extremely low levels of employee engagement. However, when leadership focuses on employee’s strengths, employee engagement levels will drastically increase because strengths-based employee development plans almost always result in target behavioral changes. Positive outcomes include higher levels of productivity and employee engagement, but also lower levels of turnover and employee dissatisfaction.
Research continually shows that higher levels of employee engagement results in lower levels of accidents, injuries and stress. In fact, disengaged employees are more likely to be stressed out and consequently experience higher cholesterol and blood pressure readings. Effective leaders internalize the fact that employee engagement indirectly impacts employee happiness, which in turn impacts work productivity and performance. Thus, the best leaders know how to reward employees, whether through financial incentives, career advancement or public recognition.
Share your Vision
After leaders successfully establish trust and engage employees, they can focus on setting directions, sharing passions and exploring inspirational business visions. Leaders need to maintain long-term strategic plans and goals that translate to daily and monthly objectives. This will establish structure and provide guidance for employees. It will also communicate a vision of where the company is going that will inspire confidence. Having a passionate vision requires an accurate awareness of industry, market and global changes.
All and all, leadership style is an active choice that will directly impact desired deliverables. Many leaders find it useful to regularly review their leadership style in order to identify personality elements that need to be strengthened.
Image courtesy of cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net