( The 6 Skills Effective Leaders Continuously Practice)
It’s been acknowledged that a company is only as good as it’s leadership. Put another way, we can liken the level of leadership to the ceiling for growth, achievement or success of any given organization.
It’s likely, therefore, your organization is no different. And, hence, it’s no surprise that business and corporate leaders and entrepreneurs continuously strive to hone their leadership skills. And, there is the good news. Yes, I often tell the clients that I coach, leadership is a learnable skill, and we continuously need to get better at it.
Here are six core skills to get good at in your quest to up your leadership ante.
- Be Authentic
Effective leaders are authentic. They don’t wear masks. They are not two-faced. Who they are to the Board, to their direct – reports, to the shop – floor staff, to their customers, suppliers or investors is the same person. Jack Welch, the iconic former Chairman and CEO of GE, called it being “comfortable in your own skin.” And when it came crunch time, that was the ultimate criteria he used to pick Jeff Immelt as his successor in what was a very close 3 – horse race.
There is a certain sense of integrity about someone who’s authentic and this leads to trust. And relationships get better with strong trust, things move along and get done faster too.
- Communicate and Connect with your Team.
Another skill effective leaders practice is purposeful communication with their team. They practice great listening skills, listening with both their head and their heart.
And, they make time to communicate with people – not only in a Town Hall gathering or in an email announcement, but one-to-one, especially with the most valuable people in their team. They’re also comfortable mingling with other staff at the Company Cafeteria.
One of my favorite coaching questions is “How much time have you spent one-to-one with your direct reports this week?”
- Be the Example
Yes, walk the talk, lead by example. When you want to implement change, when you want to instill a high-performance culture, when you want to have more open communication, when you want better customer response and engagement, you have to lead the change.
Not just tell them the way, but actually show them the way.
- Delegate and Set Clear Direction
Effective leaders are always thinking ahead. They are visionary and able to “vision-cast” clearly and vividly communicate where they’re headed. This is not just about the company’s long term vision. It includes providing direction on projects, tasks and assignments, even in spelling out clearly a set of KPI’s – Key Performance Indicators.
Effective leaders are good delegators too. They know how to delegate tasks and assignments effectively to achieve results, while developing their team’s skills.
- Empower and Give Space
Once you’ve briefed your team on the direction, the project or task, you need to empower them to get it done. Give them the necessary resources, guidelines and time-frames. Give them space and a free-hand to execute and implement. And monitor their progress. This allows them to dig into their own resources and capabilities to get things done.
Micro-management stifles creativity and initiative, probably the only time you should micro-manage is when you have a rookie team member or a poor performer on their way out…
In essence, you’re grooming the next batch of leaders for your organization.
- Give Feedback
Too often leaders wait for year-end appraisal time to give feedback, if at all. Many times I’ve spoken to my clients’ team and asked them how often they receive feedback on their performance. Unfortunately, the common response is “hardly” or “very seldom”.
Part of building capacity, helping people grow and developing future leaders is to provide timely feedback-the good as well as the opportunities to improve!
Develop the habit of practicing these six skills. Constantly improve on each one, monitor how you’re doing in each skills. Get feedback on how you’re doing in each of these areas. As a leader you need feedback too, so you can keep getting better. As they say, “feedback is the breakfast of champions”.