As our world is seeking better leaders now more than ever before, it’s vital aspiring leaders are aware of what to do and not do, in order to lead others effectively.
Those who can lead well are able to:
- Influence others to make new decisions.
- Inspire others to go beyond what they think they’re capable of.
- Elevate the performance of others.
- Encourage others to do new things.
- Provide the necessary support to help others achieve what they want.
Contrary to popular belief, no one is a born leader. People acquire leaderships skills through education and experience. Some people are naturally suited to leadership roles, however they still need to develop their skills in order to be a good or great leader.
On the other, there are people put into or given leadership roles who tend to struggle to bring the best out of people and also themselves. The difference may well be that they’re making some fundamental leadership mistakes.
All great teams have common characteristics which can include being proactive, communicating well and team members working towards a common objective.
A key responsibility of a leader is to ensure team members continually improve their performance and collectively make the team better.
Great teams thrive when it comes to solving problems. The bigger the problem, the better they’re able to adapt and work together to find solutions to overcome their problem.
Problem-solving is a skill that can be developed with practice and discipline over time. Leaders must ensure they’re doing all they can to help their team become better problem solvers, while ensuring team objectives are being met.
Many years ago, I managed a manufacturing site that produced cylindrical paper tubes including cartridges used to fill adhesives and sealants used on constructions sites and by handymen. One particular assembly line consistently produced waste as high as 20%, which resulted in high material costs.
In order to solve the problems on the line, we got many people involved including raw material suppliers, engineering, quality control, production supervisors and the assembly line workers. I wish I could say the problem was solved quickly. It took almost three years to reach the stage where the line was operating as best as it could.
We’re constantly negotiating with people in our daily interactions. Not all negotiations are the same — some may be important, while others may seem trivial.
In its most simplest form, a negotiation is a discussion, set up or intended to produce a settlement or agreement.
By becoming a better negotiator, we can:
- Get things done faster.
- Help others improve what they do and how they do it.
- Create more collaboration with others.
- Take on new or better projects.
- Facilitate processes to help others achieve what they want.
Learning to be a better negotiator will also boost our self-confidence, which means we’ll be more willing to challenge ourselves to do new things or ask for what we want.
Conflicts are inevitable whenever we have to deal with other people for extended periods of time. Sometimes issues arise which can catch us by surprise.
If we know how to respond to issues or conflicts, we’ll be in a much better position to affect the situation the way we want, while ensuring those involved achieve their outcomes as well.
The Risks of Not Resolving Conflicts
As dealing with conflicts can be uncomfortable or challenging, if left unresolved, we may experience:
- A loss of motivation to do our best work.
- Additional stress and mental turmoil.
- A loss of self-confidence.
- Some hesitation in asking for what we want.
- A deterioration in the quality of our relationships with others.
Whenever we’re interacting with people who have different beliefs, values, opinions or behaviours, chances are at some point we’ll experience disagreements and conflicts. Therefore, knowing how to deal with conflicts is a useful skill to have.
Our level of assertiveness is closely linked to our level of confidence and our willingness to take bold action.
The more assertive we are, the more confidence we’ll develop, which in turn, will help us do what we need to in order to achieve the results we want.
There is a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive. A person who’s assertive usually is:
- Self-assured or secure with who they are.
- Confident in what they do.
- Clear about the decisions they need to make.
- Persistent when it comes to achieving their goals.
Being overly aggressive, on the other hand, usually comes across as trying to exert power over others, which most times, alienates a person from those they are communicating with.
Knowing how to become more assertive, while being respectful of others, will help us get the results we want a lot easier without the need to force things to happen.
It’s widely accepted that communication is more than just the words we say or write. Communication also involves verbal and nonverbal cues.
From previous studies, there has been a popular belief, that in communication:
- 55% is our body language.
- 38% is the tone of our voice (our tonality).
- 7% is the words we use.
Whether this breakdown is still relevant today is debatable, however the important thing to know is that our body language plays a major part in how we communicate to others.
Our nonverbal signals, our body language, tells a lot about who we are to others. If we exhibit good nonverbal communication skills, it can inform others that we are confident and trustworthy.
Similarly, if we display poor nonverbal communication skills, we can come across as being insecure, disinterested or even untrustworthy.
The better we understand different aspects of how we communicate with our bodies, the better we’ll be able to relate to others and influence them so that it’s beneficial to everyone involved.
The type of people we spend most of our time with influences the type of results we get and the quality of our lives.
Yet often, we find it difficult to remove ourselves from negativity.
Why does negativity have such a powerful influence on us?
One reason is because we have been programmed from an early age with negativity. It could have been from people who had influence over us like our parents or guardians, who without being aware of what they were doing, affected us with their words and actions.
Our programming affects our behaviours and actions, and most times, we do things without giving them any conscious thought. Therefore we get attracted to negativity because it’s what we are more familiar with.
There is a huge difference in the results of positive and negative people. Most times, it only takes a slight adjustment to one’s attitude to start getting better results.
Even though we all have different definitions of success, one thing for certain is that if we want more success, we must be willing to be uncomfortable.
It’s very rare to attain greater levels of success without challenging ourselves in new ways, which often will cause us to be uncomfortable.
Anyone who has achieved noteworthy success will admit that the success we are seeking is often outside our comfortable zone or outside of things we are familiar with.
To achieve new levels of success will require us to take new actions, which often means doing things we have not done before. One of the best things about life is we are always receiving feedback via our results.
If we are not getting the results we want, that’s feedback that we have to do different things to eventually get the results we want.
If we are always comfortable, it means:
- We are not growing and evolving.
- We are not challenging ourselves.
- We may miss opportunities to learn from new experiences or even from our failures.
- We may become stagnant and play life at a level we are used to.
- We may not have the confidence to do what’s necessary to create the results we want.
Intentionally putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations will develop our mental muscles to deal with whatever comes our way.
One of the great things about us is we’re all different. We’re unique individuals with different skills, talents, abilities, gifts, interests and passions.
Even though we know that to be true at some level, we still want or expect other people to act or behave like we do.
If we stop and reflect on our own behaviours, it’s amusing that we allow ourselves to get annoyed or frustrated when other people don’t behave as we expect them to.
Trying to change other people can be costly and it can also affect our emotional well-being. We’ve heard the saying that people resist change and change is difficult.
One valuable idea I learned many years ago was people don’t resist change. Instead, they resist being changed when it’s not their choice.
As human beings, our freedom to choose is one of the most valuable things we have, so when we feel that choice is being taken away, that’s when we are more likely to resist change.
One of the key differences between great leaders and good leaders is that great leaders know well ahead of time when changes need to be made quickly.
Like anyone else, great leaders also go through periods of struggle or a rut, but they do not allow themselves to remain in a leadership rut for long periods of time.
The danger leaders face for not dealing with a rut quickly is that it will:
- Affect their self-confidence, which in turn, will affect their ability to make right decisions.
- Reduce their motivation and effectiveness.
- Lower the moral and performance of their teams.
- Put additional stress or pressure on their relationships.
- Affect their overall well-being.
The key is for leaders to be aware when they are not performing at the level they should be in their leadership roles and turn it around quickly.