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Leadership Isn’t About Title or Position, But Your Ability to Influence Others

Leadership Isn’t About Title or Position, But Your Ability to Influence Others

Are people in management roles necessarily leaders? Leadership skills are subjective – you can have many different styles that work to varying degrees. Our modern day challenges mean methods of leadership are influenced by multiple factors, and adapting to these and keeping your leadership qualities high is an indicator of a good leader.

Some people find themselves in management roles without having developed these crucial skills. Perhaps you’re a manager and struggle to lead your team? Or maybe you’re not in a management role, but feel you want to create better leadership skills?

The Benefits of Having Good Leadership Skills

Whether you’re in a leadership role or not, recognizing and implementing good leadership skills within your team or business can help your productivity and team relationships to no end.

It can even come down to implementing small changes that make a huge improvement. There are many ways you can do this, but there is one fundamental similarity with all effective leaders, and that’s having the ability to establish a co-operating following with either a team or an individual.

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What Qualities and Skills Should a Good Leader Possess?

So what qualities make a positive, successful leader? The ability to set and achieve challenging goals, knowing when to make good, solid decisions, and at the same time be inspiring and supportive toward others are all skills that a person in a leadership role aspires to accomplish.

But there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to good leadership skills. It’s all about using your personality to its greatest effect while being mindful of how your team works best and the goals you wish to achieve.

1. Be the Source of Positivity

Positivity is the number one mindset you should bring to a team or work environment. Positivity spreads, as does negativity, so keeping a good, positive mentality helps to motivate others as well as yourself. It forms the working atmosphere and provides energy, which goes toward better productivity and keeps people wanting to continually do their best.

2. Know Yourself and Your Team Well

Knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses and being able to address them in order to get the best out of the team as a whole is one of the best skills you can develop. It’s all about using your resources well and to everyone’s advantage. It’s also about knowing your own strengths and weaknesses – using them well and working on your professional growth.

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3. Be Confident in Your Decisions to Make Everyone Head in the Same Direction

Confidence gains respect, and when challenges arise, keeping yourself and your team calm in the face of setbacks shows that you are focusing on the larger goal rather than worrying about the minor bumps in the road. Having the confidence to stick by your decisions and believe in yourself and your abilities will keep you level-headed.

4. Keep Your Focus Strong

Leadership requires a lot of focus. Being able to visualize and see the end goal, whether it’s managing a big project or building up a small business, is highly important. But keeping that focus strong when challenges are thrown at you is the true trait of a leader. Focus means keeping on top of your team, together with your own responsibilities, without distractions.

5. Delegate to Make Your Team Feel Trusted

Delegating is all about trust, and building trust within your team cultivates a perception of respect with others. Clever delegating can use people’s strengths well, but also create positive challenges in order to allow certain members of your team to grow and gain more skills in the process.

6. Deliver What You Think Clearly to Get Everyone on the Same Page

Good communication is paramount. However, it’s not always about what you say but how you get your point across. Good leaders are articulate and able to clearly explain their visions, wants, and needs. It’s important that you and your team are on the same page at all times, so people with good leadership skills make it clear that they are available to communicate with on a daily basis. This will show you’re dependable and open.

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7. Keep Your Words and Promises

You absolutely have to lead by example to be a good leader. People are less likely to work hard if they don’t see you doing the same. Showing your team that you’re on their side and working hard right next to them develops respect. Keeping your word and promises is also a must if you want to been seen as committed and trustworthy, so stick by what you say you’ll do.

8. Get Your Team to Generate Creative Ideas Together

Having a creative side helps immensely when plans go out the window. Having to make quick decisions is vital, and the ability to think outside the box can allow you to create the best options. Involving your team without making rash decisions isn’t a sign of weakness either, it’s about rallying your best resources to come up with the best solutions.

9. Trust Yourself So Your Team Can Trust You

When things are uncertain and the pressure is on, sometimes you will have to follow your gut feeling. Of course, knowledge of similar past experiences can help in these situations, but when you’re faced with a new challenge, you need to have the confidence to trust in yourself and your ability to make the correct or best decision you can. Your team can’t trust you if you can’t trust yourself.

10. Be Flexible with Your Approach to Deal with Different Situations

Business can throw all sorts of curveballs, so being adaptable is a sign of a good leader. But it isn’t just about adjusting to changes, having the ability to adapt your approach to different types of people and how they operate is a great skill to possess in leadership. The diversity of personalities and different ways of working means you need to be able to customize your approach toward them on an individual basis. This will inevitably get the best out of your team.

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11. Be Able to Inspire and Motivate Your Team

Being able to inspire your team is a good motivational skill, and it’s about keeping the morale of the team up with things like bonus schemes. Enthusiasm and drive is what you ultimately want in your team and making efforts to cultivate this will go toward a more productive and successful business. All too often, workers’ needs are ignored because there’s too much focus on results, rather than looking after who or what is getting those results.

12. See Every Problem As a Challenge

The difference between a problem and a challenge is your mindset. You need to be the solution to a problem – in other words, you want to drive toward a problem, not shy away from it. By seeing a problem as a challenge you are showing your problem-solving skills and using it as a reason to learn and grow.

13. Encourage Your Team to Pursue Relentless Growth

Pushing people to be their very best stops you from having a stagnant team. A good leader knows the importance of nurturing and encouraging their team to be the best they can. Knowing that actively allowing growth will ultimately benefit your team as a whole, is an excellent skill to have as a leader.

14. Be Consistent with the Values You Set

Your employees are usually a reflection of the values you set. Doing what’s right for your team and your business instead of making decisions from the space of needing to be right is paramount for successful leadership. Don’t let your ego get the best of you and always be authentic in your interactions. Be the best example in all areas of work.

15. Be Open to Build Good Relationships with Your Team

A good leader doesn’t hide crucial information. A good leader knows that a team that has full knowledge of what’s going on at all times is a team that can function to its best ability. Trust goes out the window when you’re seen as someone who isn’t being entirely honest. It’s all about building good relationships, and that includes being open, honest, and transparent.

It’s always beneficial to work on your leadership skills, especially if you’re running a business or a project. Some people either aren’t sure what makes a great leader, or get too focused on the importance of results instead of truly looking at themselves and seeing how much positive influence they can have on others. Be a good leader and see how you reap the positive results.

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Jenny Marchal

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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Encourage Your Employees

When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

Offer Rewards

Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

Give Autonomy

Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

A To Do Scheduling System

Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

“The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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Ask If They like What They’re Doing

If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

The Bottom Line

Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

More Resources About Team Management

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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