Seven things effective leaders do differently
How many of the essential qualities for success do you have? Discover the seven things effective leaders do differently – and how you can learn from them.
What’s the difference between a brilliantly successful business, and one that struggles to limp off the starting blocks? Is it an innovative product or service? A more considered pricing strategy? A larger marketing budget? More social media fans? Or just plain good luck?
Actually, the answer is much more simple than any of these. It’s leadership; standing at the helm of every successful business is an equally successful leader.
So if you want to replicate the success of other businesses – whether you run your own or work for someone else – you need to ensure you have a full set of the required leadership abilities.
Seven things effective leaders do differently
But what are those all-important leadership qualities? And how can you acquire or improve them? To help you, we look at seven things effective leaders do differently.
1) They have high ethical and moral standards
Sometimes, as a leader you’ll need to make tough decisions. Maybe an offer has been made that is incredibly tempting, but not 100% right for your business. Or perhaps you have to make a hard choice about a team member.
In order to make the right decisions – ones that will continue to steer your business in the best direction – it’s important to have a clear set of values in place.
With a defined ethical and moral code, and a strong sense of what is and isn’t ‘right’ for the business you’ll find it easier to make tough decisions, and turn down tempting offers that may deliver attractive rewards now, but won’t do your business any favours in the long term.
2) They provide clear goals and objectives (with guidelines)
It’s absolutely essential that you are able to outline clear goals for your team – and guidelines for how they can be achieved. After all, how can you expect your team to perform, if they don’t know what goals they are working towards?
So make sure you have worked out clear, realistic objectives (test any goals to make sure they are SMART) and convey them effectively to your team. And watch the results roll in!
3) They create a sense of community and teamwork
A laser is only as strong as the team working under them. And that means not just hiring the right people, but creating a real sense of community and teamwork among your employees.
Of course there will come times when you’ll need to manage difficult staff, but this will be easier if you have created a strong culture within your workplace.
Not only will sense of community and teamwork motivate your team to work to the best of their ability, but you’ll find it much easier to retain and attract the best people.
(Worried about a troublesome team member? Learn how to spot, and manage, the five types of toxic colleagues.)
4) They clearly communicate their expectations
Effective communication helps keep your team working on the right projects with the right attitude.
If you communicate your expectations with respect, your employees are more likely to feel motivated and capable of meeting your goals.
And it’s not just communicating your expectations to lead people – sometimes you’ll need to have tough conversations with team members who aren’t meeting their goals, or whose motivation seems to be slipping.
In these situations, great communication skills can be the difference between inspiring a potentially valuable member of staff, and increasing their loyalty, and alienating them even further.
If you think your communication skills could be improved, you’ll find plenty of helpful communication tips here.
5) They’re flexible
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to every problem. So by being flexible in trying new ideas, and open-minded enough to consider them, you increase your chances of finding the right answer to whatever problem you face.
You’ll also be better able to cope with the inevitable setbacks that come with running a business or leading a team – and set a good example for the people who work with you.
6) They communicate honestly and openly
If you really want to inspire your team, they need to believe in and trust you. And that belief and trust comes from honest and open communication.
So don’t just talk a good talk – actually walk it! Do what you say you will do, and display the same qualities and behaviours you ask of your staff. If your actions reflect your words, your team will buy into you, and be happy to follow your lead.
If you have bad news, don’t hide it from your staff, or worse – lie to them. They’ll find out eventually, and when they do any trust you have built will be gone forever.
It’s much better to be honest and open – but couch it in a soft way. If you need to announce bad news or a problem, don’t just leave your team fearing a worst case scenario. Don’t invent potential solutions, but if there are realistically any positive ways forward, let them know. So they have an honest understanding of the situation, but still feel empowered.
7) They’re open to new ideas and approaches
While ultimately a leader needs to have the final word, the best ones are always open to new ideas and ways of thinking.
There’s no monopoly on brilliant ideas, and even the most junior person in your team can come up with an insightful, creative solution to an old problem. So be open to the idea that you may not always have the best answer, or that your tried and tested approaches are still untouchable – and keep refining and improving.
Be the best leader you can
How many of the seven leadership traits do you recognise in yourself? The great news is that effective leaders are rarely born that way. Instead, like the rest of us they’ve honed their skills over time – ditching less desirable traits and modelling the qualities of the people they admire.
So don’t despair if you didn’t score a full 7/7 of great leadership traits. Use this opportunity to learn and grow, and become the best leader you can.