You think you are a leader. Or you would like to be one. Most people want to be leaders. A simple search on LinkedIn will show you the number of people who have the word leader in their headline. But not all these people are executives or lead a large team. What are the defining characteristics of a leader? And how do you know if you are one?
Here are three things you do, that make you an effective leader both online and in-person and help you lead your team to success.
1. You win the trust of peers and stakeholders
This is the most important thing a leader needs to do to be a good leader. You are a leader because your team wants to be led by you. Leaders aren’t made by an authority. Your team wants to be inspired, and that will automatically make them want to follow you. But if you impose authority on them, they might not really buy into your leadership. If you need authority to lead your team, you are not a leader. You are a manager. This is the reason you can be a leader even if you are an individual contributor. You can lead by influence.
But this is easier said than done. How do you win the trust of your peers and stakeholders? Trust needs to be earned, and it takes time. The only way to do that is to do these three things consistently – You lead by example, you listen to them, and you are transparent.
As a leader, you build credibility by leading by example. If you preach something and practice something else, your team will find no reason to believe your words. If you show your team, rather than tell them, they will feel inspired to follow you.
Your team needs to feel that their opinions are valued. They also need to feel they can be open about bad news if necessary. If they feel that they cannot give you bad news without being punished for it, or if they feel that no matter what they say to you, it won’t make a difference to your opinions, they will never trust you. Listen to their opinions with an open mind. Leaders learn from their teams all the time. That’s one of the ways they grow and become better leaders.
Your team needs to feel safe with you before they give you the gift of their trust. If they feel that you would lie to protect yourself, they will hesitate to trust you. Show that you are trustworthy by being transparent with them. Admit to your mistakes. Contrary to popular belief, a leader doesn’t need to be perfect. A team trusts a leader who shows more humanity.
2.You are a visionary thinker
A leader needs to be a visionary thinker. This is even truer today, thanks to the fast pace of technology. The world changes in a blink. Market landscapes shift, new technology upsets the old ways of doing things, entire industries are being made redundant at a rapid pace. A leader needs to have the ability to not only see what is just ahead, but also have some insight about what’s around the corner. If you show your team that you can navigate through choppy waters and deliver great results, you will definitely earn their trust. This will require that you stay abreast of developments in your industry, have the right networks, and be proactive and open to change
But being a visionary thinker isn’t only about anticipating industry changes. It is also about having a clear idea of how things could be different. The greatest leaders were visionary thinkers who refused to accept the status quo, had a big idea for how things could be different, and were able to inspire others to buy into that vision, so the vision could be turned into reality..
So go ahead and re-imagine the world as you would like it to be. Then inspire your team to make it happen.
3. You communicate the details of your vision
You have earned the trust of your team. You even have a grand vision for how you would like things to be. But neither of these will do you any good, if you don’t communicate clearly, the details of how you want the team to execute on this vision
Steve Jobs had this to say about leadership and vision-
“The greatest people are self-managing — they don’t need to be managed. Once they know what to do, they’ll go figure out how to do it. What they need is a common vision. And that’s what leadership is: [h]aving a vision; being able to articulate that so the people around you can understand it, and getting a consensus on a common vision.”
The second part of this quote is the most important part, that not many people pay attention to. Articulating the vision, so that the people around you can understand it. And this is critical – getting a consensus on a common vision. This is possible only with a detailed map that calls out the stepping stones that will take you and the team to the ultimate goal. It should come as no surprise that there are a lot of people in each industry who claim to be visionaries. Anybody can claim to have a vision. What separates a true visionary from the pack? The devil is in the details. Without a detailed plan on how to get to a goal, a vision is just a dream.
Once you clearly communicate your vision to your team, along with the details about how it is possible to achieve it, you can get your team to buy into your vision. Now your vision is their vision too! You can rest assured that once this happens, and you have successfully enrolled everyone to support your vision, the team will pull through as one cohesive unit. And when the tough times arrive, as they inevitably will, a team with a vision that everyone subscribes to will be able to weather the storm much better and be much more successful in the long term.
Are you a leader? Which of these three things do you already do? What are your plans for achieving the rest of them? If you need help reaching your maximum potential as a leader, please visit https://impeccableinterview.com/ to schedule a free consultation for online leadership coaching and online interview coaching.