Business Essentials

10 Essential tips for becoming a stronger leader

10 Essential tips for becoming a stronger leader

Thursday, 08 July 2021

According to management guru and leader of everywoman webinar 'Developing Your Leadership Capabilities', Kate Fletcher, leadership is one of the most debated topics in business. With technological advancement moving at a furious pace, the ability of leaders to embrace change and inspire employers has been brought, now more than ever, into pinpoint focus.

 

Lots of us want to be leaders – after all, it means being in a position to influence change, getting involved at the highest levels of decision-making, being respected and admired, and often a pay rise. Developing your leadership capabilities, however, is no quick fix – it takes time, devotion and knowledge.

So how can you start honing your skills right now? Here are Kate's 10 essential tips to getting started.

 

Both leadership and management are crucial for organisation's success, but the terms have become interchangeable and it's essential to strike the right balance between the two. Management relates to a clear set of well-known processes, including planning, budgeting, recruiting, structuring and staffing jobs; it enables products and services to be delivered predictably and consistently. Leadership, on the other hand, is associated with taking a business into the future, focusing on long-term visions, dealing well with change, finding opportunities and successfully exploiting them and investing in and empowering people – and it's becoming increasingly needed in our fast-powered world.

 

It's an outdated notion to think a great leader is just the person at the top of the hierarchy. It is well regarded that leadership – or critical thinking - is essential throughout the hierarchy, particularly in times of technological change and economic crisis. A good example of followers successfully becoming leaders can be found in leadership guru David Marquette's book – 'Turn The Ship Around!' – about his time as a captain on the USS Santa Fe. During this time, Marquette was used to giving orders and having his navigator and helmsman follow them to the letter. However, it was only when one of his orders resulted in an almost disastrous situation that he discovered the limitations of this style of leadership. "Why did you pass that order on?" he asked his navigator. "Because you told me to," came the reply. It became his mission to replace compliance in his team with critical thinking. And as he outlines in his book, this resulted in a crew of 135 thinking, creative, happy and energised individuals.

 

EQ – or emotional intelligence – is a way of recognizing, understanding and choosing how we think, feel and act in certain situations – and up to 85% of the success we have in our lives stems from it. It’s so important that organisations now offer psychometric tests and recruit on this basis. EQ breaks down into four categories: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social skills. EQ can be developed to make us much better leaders. The following tips are key to developing your EQ.

 

Keeping a note of the day you had at work, your interactions with colleagues and high points and low points, helps us to reflect and become more self aware of our values and actions. It can help us to reflect and focus us our long-term vision – a typical trait of a great leader – and also gives us the opportunity to evaluate how we’re doing emotionally. There are six questions you can ask yourself to figure out how you’re doing on the EQ scale. These are: Do I let myself feel my emotions? Do I feel emotions physically? Do I consider emotions when making decisions? Am I comfortable expressing emotions? Do I recognise others' emotions? Do I prioritise thought and suppress emotion?

 

In order to create an environment that's conducive to team success, there are a few essential pointers that relate back to social awareness: firstly, remember to always praise employees for their hard work, and learn how to say thank you – authentically and often. Take the time to study and understand conflict resolution. Ensure you really listen to people's issues and get to the root causes of disputes and difficulties. Once you can listen well and praise well, you're in a good position to turn negative situations into positives.

 

Be calm, slow down. Invariably in our busy lives, the most impactful factor on our state of mind and interactions with others is stress, so being relaxed and slowing down before dealing with tricky situations is imperative. This is where the self-management element of EQ comes into play. Self-management can help us control impulsive behaviours, manage emotions and successfully adapt to different situations. So remember to breathe…

 

Listen to people and their problems with an open mind and really try to recognise their goals and motivations. Offer training and learning for your team members to advance their own skills. This will help you to engender motivation, empower people to challenge the norm and help employees feel a part of a mutual long-term vision. You'll find that you become much better at understanding others' emotions, needs and concerns, picking up on clues and recognising power dynamics – and essential factor in developing strong social awareness and social skills.

 

It’s simple – be enthusiastic about genuine 'wins', be dynamic, decisive and focused on your long-term vision and you'll inspire others – which in turn, of course, helps you build bonds with your team and be in a position to influence employees more successfully.

 

Building strong, trusted relationships internally and externally is key to developing your capabilities as a leader.  Great business relationships means we're happier, more productive and in a position to make change happen at work. When we understand each other and our mutual motivations, we’re often more innovative and creative, too, which allows us to shift our energy away from dealing with problems to positive change and innovation. So, invest in those relationships. Good starting point: hold one-to-one meetings, take your colleagues out for lunch or throw an away day!

 

It's essential to get support on your journey to developing your leadership skills. Take on a leadership coach or mentor, or engage the help of a leadership figure you trust and admire in the workplace and ask them how well you’re doing and how you can make improvements. 

And finally...keep practising!

 

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