As HR professionals, we study leadership every day. In spite of the number of different personalities and leadership styles, it’s not difficult to narrow down what makes effective leaders stand apart. Research from The Leadership Challenge to Multipliers tells us what a great manager looks like. In fact, if you ask a room full of professionals to describe their best manager, the words they use will correlate closely with the research that’s been done. Here are common attributes of the best leaders:
Want To Be A Great Leader? Hard Work + Common Sense Will Get You There
They inspire by creating a shared vision, something long term that people can get behind. Everyone wants to play an important role by doing meaningful work, and the better a leader is at connecting the dots and showing how daily tasks are contributing to the bigger picture, the more energized and focused the team will be.
Great leaders build teams of high performers, and high performers like to be challenged. There are managers who think they need to go easy on people, or that the key to the team’s heart is becoming their friend and going for beers after work. But the best leaders know that they will get the most out of people when they are working hard, learning and growing.
They support and trust the team – to take risks, make mistakes, and fail. They encourage people along the way.
These leaders get to know people as individuals. They care about them as people, know their aspirations and what makes them tick. They also recognize people’s limits and don’t throw them in the deep end without a life preserver. A good manager stretches people; a great manager stretches people along with the support and resources they need to succeed.
While some people may be natural leaders, most of us have to work at it and that’s ok. If you love management and are passionate about growing and developing people, you can get there. There are many ways to increase your effectiveness.
Ask for feedback: You’d be surprised what you can learn just by asking. Remember that asking for feedback is an art. You may need to ask several times, and you must demonstrate that you value and appreciate the feedback. Thank the people who provide it, don’t get defensive, and remember to circle back later to tell them what you’ve been working on and ask how you’re doing. The more specific you can be, the better. If you ask “How was that presentation?” people will tell you that you were great. If you ask “I was really trying to emphasize xyz point. How do you think it came across? How could I have been even more clear?” you’re more likely to learn something.
Try an assessment: Depending what you’re working on, a 360 assessment, Conflict Dynamics or EQ assessment can be very insightful. Only use it if you’re willing to spend time creating an action plan and specific goals based on the feedback. Get help choosing the right assessment depending on your goals and areas you need to work on.
Get a coach: Leadership coaching is increasing in popularity and has proven results including increased productivity and improved relationships. It used to be that coaching was viewed as remedial, for the leader who yelled too much or couldn’t hit the numbers. Today coaching is being offered to high potential leaders who want to get better faster. I’ve seen many leaders use coaching to improve skills and change habits with tangible results.
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