Leadership is not a complex beast. It's simple, yet not easy to implement. Natural and not forced. Sought after but not always achieved. Leadership is simple, yes, but it also has to be effective in all the right ways. Leadership is all about relationships, says Inc., and they are far more important than issues. Even so, most leaders focus on the issues without ever truly developing relationships of trust. When the relationships work, the bottom line will work itself out.
Good leaders, when confronted by a challenge, must determine which role everyone will take and how they will tackle the problem at hand. Just like people aren't two-dimensional, neither is leadership. It's possible and even expected to take on different roles and styles depending on the situation and person you are involved with.
Trust and Correction
Just like a romantic relationship or a friendship, when there is trust between people or a group of people, feelings aren't hurt when correction is offered. That so-called healthy conflict is vital to growth and progress. But because very few people foster trust in their relationships, they fail to engage in healthy conflict, often reverting to lying to their leaders and vice versa. Correction must happen in a leader/employee role. There is no way around that. Performance may even improve for a time. But often, that unhealthy conflict doesn't have the long-term intended effect it was meant to have. That's because the relationship is not secure, which can lead to disaster in no time flat.
That's why leaders must strive for a deeper relationship of trust. Without healthy doses of communication and trust, employees have no sense of security in their roles. They're not even sure what their leader is thinking, what he or she really wants, or even how to deliver it. Lacking stability, it's nearly impossible for followers to bring their A game when it comes to creativity. This is where the relationship fails and goals are not met. Trust. It's so simple yet lacking in so many relationships in a business setting.
Shortcuts to Effective Leadership
You don't need an MBA or hours of executive training courses under your belt to be a good leader. All it takes is some common sense and emotional intelligence. It's so obvious that most leaders miss it. Check out these shortcuts to effective leadership:
- Lead by example: Leading by example doesn't just happen in time of crisis or when appearing in public. It's something that you must be conscious of every single day. From the time you show up to a meeting to your overall appearance -- even to whether or not you're smiling and appearing engaged -- it's important to always be "on." Think no one's watching? Think again. They are.
- Say what you mean: Say "yes" when you mean it and "no" when you mean it. Be clear, direct and stand behind what you say. When you do this, it avoids having to drag situations out. You can accept your feelings and instincts, translating them into decisions. Best part is, your team knows where it stands at all times without having to guess, which can be exhausting in its own right. Not only are you boosting their confidence, you're encouraging them to do better, leading to a better work/life balance because work issues aren't lingering around.
- Be conscious of where you sit: Staking out your power starts with where you park your body, points out Forbes. Whether at a wedding, banquet, business meeting or business dinner, where you sit matters. In fact, pecking order is defined by who sits closest to the seat of power. The boss gets the head, the allies sit close, the opposition sits on the other side and observers sit along the wall. Where will you establish your position of power?
- Empower your team: Give your team the tools it needs to do the job effectively, then know when to stand back and let things happen. Hovering and second guessing erodes trust, which chips away at the very foundation of an effective team.
- Sound like a leader: Whether you have to give a speech, make a presentation or preside over a meeting, you have to sound like you know what you're doing. This takes preparation, forethought and rehearsal time to present like a leader. Take the time to read your speech out loud at home, record it, watch yourself in the mirror...whatever it takes to get that confidence level up is what you need to do. Your delivery and tone are much more important than the content of your speech.
In conclusion, effective leadership is simple leadership. Do you lead by example? Do you have trust in your team relationships? Do you invest the time it takes to instill confidence in those around you? If you answered yes to any of these, you're well on your way to being an effective, cherished leader.