Many people think that being a good leader comes from an innate ability. Conversely, others think that anyone can be a leader as long as they have enough experience in the line of work their team is concerned with. Neither of these ideas are accurate. Yes, you need a certain amount of experience in your career to reach leadership level and yes, there are some who are natural born leaders. But you can also learn to be a good leader. You can learn the skills necessary to remain a motivating factor to your subordinates as you can learn to manage disciplinary issues. What’s more, you must be prepared to be someone who the team is inspired by but if you find yourself in a leadership role you’re likely to already be viewed that way. It’s why you find yourself promoted to this position in the first place.
The skill set needed to successfully fulfill a leadership role in your company can differ depending on your industry. For instance, what is required of a manager of a sales team is vastly different to that of a manager of a team of copywriters. And, many of those vying for a managerial role in their company aren’t always aware of what the promotion would actually entail. It’s worth it to do some research about the role before going hell for leather trying to secure the position. Yes, everyone should be motivated to supercede their current position and benefit from the positives of such a promotion. But being given a promotion and then failing at the role is the worst. You have to make sure you’re ready. For instance, you might be an excellent senior designer but becoming an art director means that time is taken from your creative process. A good portion of your time will be spent in staff meetings, handling HR concerns and developing strategies to grow the team or the business. You need to be willing to sacrifice time creating and repurpose it to administrative activities.
Create a vision that motivates and inspires everyone
Leaders need to be able to create a vision that is so strong that everyone buys into the idea. The buy in usually comes from everyone knowing exactly how impactful they can be to the company’s progress. Everyone wants to know that their work and talent makes a difference, that it positively affects the company’s bottom line. Those who work directly with clients are able to feel the reward of their work immediately but those who are working in the background can lose sight of their impact. Giving your team insight into how what they do makes a difference can motivate them and this, followed by affirmation, will inspire them to bring their A-game to everything they do.
Be willing to be totally transparent
Honesty is the best policy. When you’re in a leadership position you cannot afford to be caught out in a lie, even if only by omission or embellishment. This will create mistrust amongst your team members and trying to rebuild trust will be a never-ending battle. Not only must you ensure that you speak the truth about yourself, your role and your work activities but you must also be willing to answer questions with honesty. In this way your team will always know where they stand with you and this is vitally important. You need to be strong enough to deliver honest answers to difficult questions, deal with the follow up questions and still make your team members feel secure.
You can never take your problem solving hat off
This means you need to hone in on your analytical abilities. You need to be able to solve everything from organisational problems to team disputes or conflicts and even personal concerns of your team members. You’re in a leadership role because it has been decided that you have a good sense of who to hire and fire, who to nurture into a different or more senior role and your people skills are beyond ordinary. And all problem solving abilities will be put to the test more frequently than expected.
Perseverance and tenacity
You need to be like a dog with a bone when you’re a leader. But you need to also know which bone is the right one. In other words, you need to persevere and be tenacious in your attitude to work. You need to focus on goals, big and small, and make sure they are achieved. Then, you need to make sure your team has the same idea and is also pushing hard to accomplish the goals set out. What’s more, your tenacity and drive will inspire them to operate with the same level of perseverance and energy. This means you cannot rest on your laurels, your focus must be streamlined and you cannot let anything slide. If you do, you are likely to end up with a team who isn’t achieving their goals and unfortunately, that will be your problem that you’ll have to answer for.
You need to understand business
You need to understand the ins and outs of the company you work for. You must have a keen eye for corporate finance and HR procedures and policies. This is because you are managing people and people are resources as well as the company’s biggest asset. Each individual affects the corporate finance of the business as they cost money. They need to deliver return on the investment that’s been made to keep them in job. And, this is what you’re overseeing. Think of yourself as an investor who is putting money into people and the company is your client who is expecting a payout. If you have a keen eye for corporate finance and understand the actual costings behind hiring a staff member and ensuring they deliver then you’re probably a great leader and asset to the company yourself.