Being a great leader takes time, effort and patience, and is a skill that can be constantly fostered and developed throughout your career. Although some people may be more naturally suited to leadership roles than others, this does not mean that others cannot thrive in this role. There are a number of hints and tips you can learn from to boost your leadership capacity, and here are three:
1. LEAVE THE EGO BEHIND
For Forbes contributor Ashley Stahl, avoiding the trap of seeming egotistical in your leadership style is an important lesson to learn. While of course being the leader of a team, office or even company means you have increased responsibility and decision-making capacities, this does not exempt you from being a team player. Stahl argues
‘A true leader does whatever is required to get the job done. If that means running the copier, making the midnight coffee run, or assembling folders, that’s what the leader does, even if his paycheck and title suggest otherwise.’
Linking this to morale and energy levels on your team, Stahl believes that by leaving your ego at the door and presenting yourself as an accessible and down-to-earth leader, you can better connect with your team members and get the work done that is needed.
2. BE REFLECTIVE
Although being a leader means you are constantly busy and absorbed in the latest task at hand, taking time to reflect can work wonders for your development as a leader.
For independent news site The Conversation, ‘one of the most admirable and arguably underrated qualities of leadership is the capacity for reflection.’ Referencing Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher who once called reflection the ‘most noble way to learn wisdom,’ the article argues that a ‘capacity to reflect on decisions, behaviors and learning’ should be more often included in the key competencies of a leader.
The article also highlights the key difference between critical thinking and reflectiveness. While of course critical thinking is an essential skill for any leader, given that this is more focused on problem solving with an end goal in sight, the ability to think reflectively allows us to question ‘our underlying beliefs and assumptions and how they influence our decisions.’ This in turn makes our decisions better informed and our problem solving more astute.
3. PASS ON YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Part of being a great leader is acknowledging that this is not a position exclusive to you, and therefore passing on the knowledge that you have learned along the way will allow you to build a strong future generation of leaders.
Harvard Business Review (HBR)’s Sydney Finkelstein explains that after more than 10 years working for world-class leaders, ‘one big surprise was the extent to which these star managers emphasize ongoing, intensive one-on-one tutoring of their direct reports, either in person or virtually, in the course of daily work.’
He further explains that while many leaders embrace more traditional leadership styles such as ‘formal reviews, making professional introductions, advising on career plans and acting as sounding boards,’ far fewer made imparting knowledge and teaching skills a core part of their job.
Embracing this knowledge-sharing element of leadership can transform you from a good leader into a great leader. By constantly looking for opportunities to share your knowledge, whether that’s in how to conduct oneself professionally in your given industry or by sharing technical knowledge of your craft, you can make a wider impact not only to your organisation but to the individuals under your wing.
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