The modern leader is a vastly different entity to a leader 50 years ago. Times have changed and people have changed with them. A larger, younger, and digitally-minded workforce creates new problems and opportunities for leaders. The first thing a modern leader must work on in order to provide the best support for their team is themselves. So, here are some potential development areas that you as a leader, can begin to address.
Don’t get stuck in your ways.Let’s talk about flexibility. Even before lockdowns, Zoom subscriptions, and WFH lifestyles, modern leaders had to be on their toes to cope with the dynamism that workplace situations constantly throw up. The greater the flexibility, the greater the leader. Being a static leader, manager, director, boss, or supervisor will keep you and your team disengaged from one another and create a real bottleneck towards excellence and progress.
Here’s how you can learn to acclimatize to rapidly-changing environments in your organization:
Be a wealth of knowledge. Know as much as you can, be willing to share it, use it for support, and leverage all of the data, skills, and tools at your disposal to improve the collective knowledge and performance of your teams.
- Be willing to learn new skills and accept that you yourself are not yet at the peak of the performance mountain. Your competition is always making fast strides, but are their strides faster than yours? Continued professional development should be a part of your daily routine.
- Improvise well and people will see you as a natural team player and provider of solutions, but of course, this doesn’t come easy. Accepting that even the best plans have major hiccups is a good start. Next time, don’t be so fearful of giving it a go, especially in cases where you have the skills and training to do so. The best leaders will not let things grind to a halt, instead, they will seamlessly improvise a solution.
The first words are the first steps
Without good, clear communication, breakdowns are absolutely inevitable. When people don’t talk they don’t share knowledge, they don’t collaborate, and they miss out on key insights that could help things run much smoother. The diversity of skills in your organization’s talent pool is one of its greatest assets, so a top-tier leader will work hard to unleash them.
When it comes to developing this skill, the potential is best unlocked by developing communication formats that are easy going, useful, and encourage all members of the team to have a voice.
Here are some things you can start doing to aid leadership development:
- Drive teamwork and reward those who work well together and competently share responsibilities. Find activities and experiences that bond people, remembering always to push the use of ‘we’ instead of ‘I’.
- Learn to talk less and listen more, or at least be conscious that what you are hearing might be more useful than what you are saying. Surprisingly, all of the motivational words in the world might not support someone quite as much as the feeling that they are truly heard. Be interested, not interesting. You can even invest in coaching and training in visual cues and body language.
- Perspective is a gift that empaths are born with and many of the rest of us learn later. So, try to put yourself in other people’s shoes and understand their motivations and concerns from their point of view.
- As a leader, you will no doubt have some team members that you click with and others that don’t. Ask yourself, ‘why is that?’. Then, start working on the weaker relationships and accept that some people need more time to build trust and rapport.
- Hold frequent meetings in different formats. Dragging everyone to the boardroom is so 1990s, now that we have Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime, you can hold your meetings at convenient times from anywhere you like. Your employees need these regular opportunities to ask questions and bounce ideas. They probably have many little questions and queries each day, things that they feel are too small to bother leaders with, so encourage open discussion within these feedback meetings.
- Break out of the echo chamber. In 2021, it’s easy to think that our way of life is normal and the way we do things is right. The problem is, is everyone thinks like this, we would never be able to embrace the best of other cultures, languages, backgrounds, and more. The same is true in a professional environment, so it can help to change your feedback loop and talk to different people in different positions and who offer a wealth of diversity.
Other leadership skills to research
Whilst we think flexibility and communication are the top of the mountain, there are many other steps you need to take on your leadership journey. Here are a few other things you might want to delve into:
Learning how to motivate others
Motivation can come from several sources. For some it’s money, for others it’s respect, and for many, it’s either power or validation. Hopefully, your team members will be motivated by progress, career development, and success. In learning to probe the motivations of others, you’ll need to ask questions, listen, keep people involved, and give them your trust. If they feel inspired, challenged, rewarded, or appreciated, you can win their hardest efforts.
Bringing a positive atmosphere and brilliant energy
Easier said than done, but improving your own aura and energy will create a domino effect of positive experiences. Some hacks towards having good vibes include: exercising daily, not gossiping, sleeping better, listening to good music and jokes, and carefully removing the unnecessary stresses from life.
Self-confidence, charm, and charisma
The language you use, both verbally and with your body, defines your confidence and charisma. You don’t need to be the life of the party to show confidence, but if you can hold a good conversation, win a new friend, and make people remember you positively, you’re on the right path.
Learning how to delegate without being bossy
Pick your task doers wisely. Who is a shirker and who loves a challenge? Who is best suited to the task at hand? Be sure that after picking the right people, you communicate clearly, show appreciation, and don’t show any signs of weakness regarding your decision.
Inspiring others through great delivery
Eye contact, posture, and body language are the foundations of a well-delivered speech. After that, the words. Don’t be too wordy, nobody needs a literary speech, they need to be spoken to, understood, and empowered. Speak about what you know and care about and compel others to join your mission.
Taking decisions with confidence based on the best data at your disposal
Some risks and gambles may pay off, but in most cases, your team are going to support the data that has been collected. If you have asked your team to collect data, the best thing you can do is to put your absolute faith in that data and use it to move forward, showing appreciation as you do so.
Character judgement and assessment of your team members in order to manage them well
Interestingly, the best way to judge a character is to not judge them (or at least not too quickly). Don’t make presumptions or assumptions about people, as your assessment might not be accurate and so you may then act with bias. Instead, let time reveal all, as people will show their true nature and so the assessment will no longer be necessary.
Spotting problems and identifying opportunities
These two things are exactly the same. When you evolve your mindset as a leader to see everything as a problem, and every problem as an opportunity, suddenly you will realise that the obstacle is the way, that the problems are necessary for creating the opportunities to improve. No business or leader is more robust than the one that can make a success of every failure.
Building excellent strategies
Develop a long-term thought process, work on facts, statistics, and data as opposed to judgement or assumptions, and work towards a well-defined vision and targets.
Accountability and responsibility
Rather than being confrontational, accept the need to have the big and difficult conversations, rather than shy away from them. As a leader, you need to quickly address poor performance, set actionable goals to resolve it, help people follow through, and follow up with them at a later date. Accountability for yourself and your team is not a process, but a set of stages.
Solving problems quickly and effectively
Start by identifying and clarifying the problem. Once you’ve done this, see where the opportunity lurks. Consider everyone who is involved and their interests and investment in the problem at hand. Discuss the options and outcomes and find the resolve that offers the best mutual interest. If there is a clear loser, how can they be compensated? If the loser still feels like a winner, the problem is truly solved.
All of the above skills and abilities can be learned through a variety of:
- Formal training
- Experiential learning
- Teamwork and committees
- Accountability and extra responsibility
Like a relationship, without trust, you have nothing
Leaders who are inexperienced in their positions often have a bad habit of lacking trust in their teams and so resorting to micromanaging them in order to make sure things go well. Leaders who don’t trust their teams also have another issue: taking work from their teams and doing it themselves.
The best leaders will specify the outcomes they want and will trust their team members to make it happen. These outcomes should be measurable or quantifiable and regular progress meetings can help keep everyone in tune with their objectives.
On a bigger scale, transparency is trust, and it’s something that works in both directions. A company that hides key information from employees and stakeholders will lose trust and credit, as much as employees who don’t turn up for work and miss deadlines can be mistrusted by the company.
A willingness to self-develop has led you to find this article, so from here moving forward, we hope you will try a variety of methods in a wealth of areas so that you can become a complete leader and drive the success of your organization and its members.
To find out more about the core leadership qualities that will be needed for the demands of tomorrow, download our free Future-Proofing Your Leaders for 2030 & Beyond White Paper.