How to lead and why we should all know how to
The advent of global digitisation means we often don’t work in the same office space, building or even city as some of our closest colleagues any more. Instead, our relationship with them is driven by communication platforms such as Skype, Teamviewer or even project management dashboards like Asana. Software like AnyDesk enable us to access our chief working computer anywhere. Gone are the days of a chat around the water cooler. These are rather negotiated by meme blasts (or similar) on a WhatsApp group to keep team morale up and to establish and maintain collegial rapport.
One of the results of digitisation is that fewer employees are required to get a business off the ground, something tech savvy self-starters and entrepreneurs use to their advantage. They prefer to sit on a beach in Thailand while building an online empire – and who can blame them?
Even in today’s corporate space, the traditional perception of what it means to be a leader or manager has morphed. Without the much-parodied brusque line managers of the conventional, old-school corporate structure, people are looking for greater connection and inspiration from those they work with. And, in fact, any person who needs to take an idea or a project forward, or engage co-workers or clients in some way, steps into a leadership position of sorts. It may be temporary or permanent, but knowing what leadership skills to cultivate can stand us all in good stead.
Here are traits to cultivate so that you’ll hone your ability to lead well:
To be an effective leader, you will need to pay attention to what those around you have to say. You need context and insight to help others be their best selves and to make informed decisions. Keep your ears open and try to be objective.
The old adage “lead by example” is nowhere more valuable than when it comes to improving your own skills set and knowledge base. Make sure that you read widely on topics related to your business so that you stay focused and in with trends. This will encourage and inspire others to do the same.
The ability to show genuine interest in the work and ideas of others will build self-esteem and make people feel respected and valued. Let this extend beyond work life into finding out about what makes colleagues and employees tick as people. The insights you gain in this way will help you to cultivate their innate skills and grasp their personal and professional situation. Being more fully aware of someone’s overall circumstances gives one invaluable insight.
Enthusiasm, or the lack thereof, is contagious. Be the one who gets excited about things and others are likely to do (and feel) the same.
If you hold yourself accountable, you create an ethical business culture. Do what you commit to. Say what your mean. Meet deadlines. Don’t have double standards when it comes to yourself and others. Practise what you preach. Be present. Be consistent.
EMBRACE OTHERS’ STRENGTHS
Too many leaders feel challenged when others display strength, opinion, character or talents. Instead, we should embrace collaboration wherever possible. If you share glory and success and even profit, you will also share responsibility, stress and crises – all of which will make your team stronger and better, more adaptable and more interesting.