Maybe you’re looking for a greater opportunity to lead or have already found yourself in a trusted position of responsibility. Learning from great leaders will be key to your future success. Here are some common qualities they share.
Ask the right questions
In every situation, every conversation, and every project, take a step back to find the questions that aren’t being asked. What are the unspoken assumptions? What’s being missed? Perhaps most importantly, always investigate the “why behind the what.”
This is invaluable whether you’re just starting out in a junior position, or you’re at the top of the pile. Understanding why keeps you from wasting time doing the wrong what. In other words, leaders don’t just take orders and complete tasks mindlessly, they seek to understand and work strategically and efficiently.
Have a reason
This springs out of the first idea: understand the why behind the what. Never do something without a reason, and always be prepared to identify and share your reason.
When you’re starting out, this can help you impress your boss and defend your actions successfully. When you’re in a position of authority, it encourages trust and helps your team act more effectively with less oversight.
Know where you’re going
Leaders have vision. That feeds back into that “why” we’ve been talking about. When you know where you’re going and why you want to get there, you’re more likely to make it, or be able to pivot to an even better destination along the way.
Help your team perform more effectively with clear goals. This isn’t an excuse to micromanage; on the contrary, it equips everyone to contribute individual skills and experience toward a common goal, rather than inadvertently working at cross-purposes because of conflicting ideas about where the destination lies.
Listen and teach
Great leaders don’t just get up at the front of the room and issue orders. They make the most of the entire team’s talents, knowledge, and experience, by having effective listening skills.
That is a hard skill to learn. Too little vision and clarity, and team members start trying to project their voices over yours and take control. Too much force and not enough listening leads to the opposite problem; your team won’t tell you when there’s a problem early enough to avoid or fix it.
Create a safe environment where there’s a clear target and every team member knows their contribution is appreciated. They should feel free to share concerns but know it’s not acceptable to undermine or criticize without cause.
Take a little extra time to explain the why behind the what for your team. They don’t need to know every detail, but if you take the time to teach, it will build trust, rapport, and the ability for each team member to work more effectively.
There are multiple lifetimes of leadership skills to learn. Don’t get discouraged and work on being just a bit better all the time. You can run the risk of being too arrogant and not listening enough if you stop learning; it helps you confront your own weakness and imperfection, which makes you more humble and relatable.
The entrepreneur Stan Gershengoren shares strategies and tips about how to lead and grow your business effectively in an accessible manner. Reference tips on best practices for management consulting for more leadership competency as described by Mr. Gershengoren.
Learn from established leaders and their success. Empathy, listening, and critical thinking skills