Advertising
Advertising

How to Be an Effective Leader (A Step-By-Step Guide to Upgrade Your Leadership Skills)

How to Be an Effective Leader (A Step-By-Step Guide to Upgrade Your Leadership Skills)

Many of the most important and influential texts ever written, like Sun Tzu’s the Art of War, Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, or even Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, are about leadership. With hundreds of books written about leadership, it would be easy to understand how to become an effective leader, but unfortunately that simply isn’t the case.

A leader has to be a person capable of juggling many huge demands at a time, they have to consider the opinions, needs, and wants of all around them. They need to be a person not only capable of making difficult decisions, but the right difficult decision. At the same time, they need to know how to look after their team, while pushing them forward to achieve greatness.

This article serves as an introduction to effective leadership and will give you a step by step guide on how to become an effective leader.

Is leadership in born?

Strong and capable leaders are rarely (if ever) born. Be skeptical of claims to the contrary.

Psychology research suggests that people become leaders through the process of teaching, learning and observation.[1]

If you put your preconceptions aside, you’ll clearly see that leadership skills aren’t inborn, but have to be learned by training, perception, practice and experience over time. And when we say over time – we really mean over a lifetime, as successful people never stop learning.

It’s true. Great leaders constantly seek out development opportunities that will help them learn new skills. If your goal is to become a leader – you should do the same.

How important is leadership?

There are great and inspiring leaders everywhere. Anywhere you see a team that works well together, a team that consistently works at their best no matter the pressure, a team of people that are confident and determined; you are seeing a team with a great leader.

What is the definition of a great leader?

  • A great leader can unite a group of people, each with their own goals and interests, and make them work together in synchronicity for a common goal.
  • A great leader is able to inspire confidence and resilience.
  • A great leader is open to the good ideas of others. They are good listeners and are open to learn from their team.

Ultimately, a great leader turns a group of people into a dependable, reliable, creative, motivated and effective unit.

But how does someone become a great leader?

First, learn about the basic traits as listed in the next part. And when you have mastered these traits, you’ll have to move on to the advanced level of skills to become an effective leader.

Basic traits to become a good leader

To develop your leadership skills, it’s best to pinpoint the areas that you feel you are not ‘up to par’ with, and strengthen them. To make this easy for you, I have a complete guide on all the most important leadership traits categorized into three areas:

Advertising

  • Self-development
  • Communication
  • Team engagement

In the guide, you will learn how to pick up all the basic leadership traits and behaviors. Check out the complete guide here:

14 Powerful Leadership Traits (That All Great Leaders Have)

Next, you will need to level up your leadership skills by understanding the different types of leadership.

Advanced skills to become an effective leader

The most effective leadership is not a single entity, or a single set of values or rules a person must have in order to lead people. There are multiple leadership styles each with their own benefits and rules. If you have learned the basic qualities of leadership, upgrade your leadership skills by identifying your leadership style and master it.

Find out the leadership style that best fits you in this flowchart:

      Pace-setting Leader

      A pace-setting leader focuses on targets and the speed with which said targets are being achieved. They set performance standards and schedules for the team to achieve goals and get the best results.

      Pace-setting leaders typically ensure the work is on schedule and reaches the goals quickly.

      Yet the biggest drawback of pace-setting leadership is being too predictable. Many pace-setting leaders overwhelm team members with deadlines, and harm their creativity as they rush to finish their work.

      As a result, this style works best when employees are highly motivated and already competent workers. This is also good if a clear schedule needs to be set for a specific set of tasks.

      In order to grow as a successful leader, pace-setters should ask for team members’ feedback often and give them space to work. Instead of focusing on deadlines, they should focus on the process of reaching quality work.

      Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, is a successful example of a pace-setter. Welch despised micro-managing and thought leaders needed to focus more on setting examples and deadlines. That’s the essence of a pace-setting leader.

      Advertising

        Commanding Leader

        A commanding leader makes decisions alone and gives orders to members to achieve goals.

        A commanding leader can make decisions quickly. They don’t need to go through any discussions to come up with a decision most of the time. This saves time and is helpful especially during a crisis. Commanding leaders are often respected and are rarely challenged by the team.

        Unfortunately, commanding leaders often inhibit critical thinking and demoralize employees’ team spirit as their opinions are not valued under such leadership. Team members are there for execution; they do what they’re told, and only the commanding leader gets to drive a decision forward.

        Commanding leaders work best when quick decisions are to be made in a crisis or situation with inexperienced team members. As a result, many famed generals and politicians operating in times of strife fall into this category.

        Winston Churchill is an example of a commanding leader. Churchill was especially known as a powerful orator and man overall, and often was able to inspire others to action simply via his commanding speeches and viewpoint. As mentioned before, his great leadership was instrumental in the allied victory during the second world war.

          Visionary Leader

          Visionary leaders are able to see the bigger picture and set the overall goals for the team.

          This type of leader Inspires creativity and teamwork as team members are encouraged by the bigger end-goal of what they’re working on day-to-day. Jobs is one of the examples, but many tech company CEOs fit into this type too. Startup CEOs often frame product decisions around “saving the world”, and this is where the vision is found.

          The flip side of believing you’re working on something which will change/save the world is that it may inspire fanatical belief in the leader himself. Another potential flaw is its heavily context-dependent, in another word, the goal at the end. With a constant focus on making the world a better place, team members can sometimes lose focus on their day-to-day plan they need to execute.

          Visionary leaders are good in transition situations. Think about a new CEO coming in and immediately laying out the long-term vision for a place after the disgraced exit of his predecessor, the company and the employees benefit in this case.

          A visionary leader, though, does need lieutenants who can take their vision and translate it into day-to-day work for the rest of the organization. If it’s all vision and strategy with no tie to day-to-day execution, employees will get confused and ultimately leave.

          Steve Jobs built a company that completely changed multiple industries, and he did so by singularly looking at possibilities no one had ever considered. Imagine ten to twenty years before the first iPhone came out, if you had described that idea to your friend, they would probably have laughed you and thought you were a dreamer.

          Advertising

            Democratic Leader

            Democratic leaders make decisions together with the team members—regardless of rank—and closely work together with the team to achieve for the best results.

            Democratic leadership is good for boosting team morale and improving relationships between leaders and members. An open environment encourages a constant stream of communication and idea exchange. For example, the idea of Gmail was brought to Google decision-makers by a lower-ranking staffer, as was the idea of AdWords. AdWords is a huge revenue driver for Google and it didn’t necessarily begin at the absolute top ranks, but the top ranks weren’t threatened when a new idea came about.

            However, the authority of a democratic leader may be easily challenged and cause inefficiency in decision making.  A collective decision-making process usually takes a longer time.

            Democratic leaders work best when team members are experienced and have strong knowledge in their functional area. Inexperienced members may be confused under such leadership, or wondered why their voice was sought after despite their lack of experience.

            John F. Kennedy was a successful democratic leader. When Kennedy handled the Bay of Pigs situation, he gave everyone in his circle a voice. The way he made decisions had changed decision-making for the modern era.[2]

              Affiliative Leader

              Affiliative leaders show warmth and acceptance to members and create emotional bonds with them.

              Because of the warmness provided, members feel safe and have a strong sense of belonging to the organization and perform better. Google has done studies of effective managers and found the No. 1 thing they provide is “psychological safety.” Affiliative leaders do that.

              Unfortunately, mediocre performances may be fostered under an affiliative leadership because it rarely puts team members under pressure. Some team members may feel they can coast on certain work because their managers will always support them.

              This leadership style works best in stressful situations or when team members’ morale is low. Typically, it’s used best together with other leading styles.

              The Dalai Lama brings people along with him and into a bigger picture of contentment and safety.

              Advertising

                Coaching Leader

                Coaching leaders are mentors to the more inexperienced team members. They help the members to better their capabilities and performances by constantly providing them feedback.

                This creates a positive working environment where leaders and employees are constantly communicating. With the coaching leader’s guidance, team members grow and improve continuously.

                The downside of regular coaching is that it’s time-consuming. It also takes patience to coach each of the team members. In an organization that focuses on immediate results, coaching is not preferred because it takes time to see significant results.

                Coaching leaders work best with inexperienced employees who are eager to learn and grow. A leader who is proficient in convincing and influencing others will execute coaching leadership well.

                John Wooden, who won more NCAA basketball championships than any other coach, is a successful coaching leader. He had a very specific coaching model that focused on conveying information as opposed to course-correcting.[3]

                  Not all styles can be applied to every situation, and some people may be better at one style over another. If you use the right style at the right time, the effect can be substantial.

                  Bonus: Combine leadership styles

                  All these styles work well in specific situations, and oftentimes teams need a mix of the different leadership styles across different work teams and work projects.

                  The most successful organizations often have a mix of these leadership styles for teams and deliverables. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The important thing is to understand where you fall, what your achievements and drawbacks are, and how you can grow or most benefit your team by considering adapting a slightly different leadership style.

                  Imagine that you are the leader of a small team. You have been given a problem to solve, and for a while you all have struggled over it. Suddenly you come up with a great idea solves the problem, but time is running out… what style of leadership do you choose?

                  You need to be flexible. Let’s try mixing a few styles:

                  • Visionary/ Commanding leader – Here, you have the goal in mind, as you have worked with your team before, you know their strengths and weaknesses, because of this, with your idea in mind, you are able to delegate tasks to each person depending on their strengths. You are able to successfully implement your idea.
                  • Coaching/ Pace-Setting Leader – You know not everyone fully understands your idea, but there are some that do. Those who understand it immediately begin to work while you bring the rest up to speed, soon you’re all working well together and your plan is implemented.

                  These two aren’t the only combinations that might work here, and sometimes they may not work at all. But the key is to know when to be flexible.

                  Ultimately, everyone has it in them to be a great and effective leader. It takes knowledge and practice sure, but if you are flexible and consider the many different forms of leadership out there, then you may find your skills as a leader, and the ultimate effectiveness of your team, grows and expands to greatness.

                  Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

                  Reference

                  More by this author

                  Leon Ho

                  Founder & CEO of Lifehack

                  How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter How to Stop Bad Habits: 9 Scientifically Proven Methods 13 Ways to Be More Eager to Learn and Succeed in Life

                  Trending in Smartcut

                  1 10 Ways to Find Learning Motivation (Even After You’ve Graduated) 2 How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways 3 11 Tactics on Increasing Brain Power, Memory, and Motivation 4 How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter 5 How to Use Deliberate Practice to Be Good at Almost Anything

                  Read Next

                  Advertising
                  Advertising
                  Advertising

                  Last Updated on November 5, 2019

                  5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

                  5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

                  Businesses rely on talent to generate and sell value. Without skilled people to create its products, manage its operations and execute its strategies, a business would inevitably fizzle out of the game and leave better-staffed competitors to take the field.

                  This is the reason why ambitious companies go great lengths to attract top talent,[1] shelling out millions of dollars in the process and bending traditional work policies just to bring highly skilled but demanding candidates into the fold.

                  Clearly, the contours of business are changing. But so are the demographics of work.

                  Millennials have become the dominant generation in the job market in terms of population, and some have already transitioned into leadership roles. Most millennials consider opportunity to learn and grow more important than overall compensation.[2]

                  Companies also today expect employees to come equipped with razor sharp business acumen.[3] Unfortunately, there is an alarming discrepancy between the actual skills businesses need and those currently possessed by job candidates.

                  To stay in the game, employers need to continually upgrade their training and skills development strategies to cover the entire employee lifecycle.

                  What are Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

                  Learning management systems are software-based solutions for authoring, presenting, consuming, storing, and tracking educational content and training materials. These systems aim to centralize all instructional content (e.g., lessons, training modules, instructional videos, presentation slides, worksheets, online quizzes, ebooks, takeaway notes, etc.) in one place.

                  LMS enable instructors to design and deliver learning experiences to students, with the added capability of evaluating the effectiveness of the instructional materials and grading the learning progress of students.

                  On the other side of the equation, learners use LMS to develop skills and acquire new knowledge virtually anytime and anywhere via the different channels and content formats made possible by digital technology.

                  Over the years, a wide range of features and technologies have been integrated into learning management systems to help enhance the experience of training designers, instructors, and learners. These include cloud and mobile technology, artificial intelligence, responsive design, scheduling, gamification, data analytics, and interoperability with other applications.

                  5 Best All-Purpose Learning Management Systems

                  There are dozens of LMS vendors catering to the general market or to specific segments such as K-12 learning, higher education, and corporate training.

                  Advertising

                  With so many options available, selecting the right LMS solution for your needs can be complicated and costly, especially when you end up adopting a platform that doesn’t exactly match your goals or requirements.

                  Short of conducting a comprehensive audit of your needs and finalizing a learning roadmap, the safest bet would be to adopt full-featured but affordable LMS solutions.

                  Based on user reviews, here are the 5 best LMS to help people gain knowledge, build skills, and achieve mastery:

                  1. Canvas Network

                  Launched by Instructure as an open source software in 2011, Canvas is an end-to-end cloud-based service originally engineered for the education sector.

                  Widely adopted for K-12 and Higher Ed learning, Canvas can be repurposed for anything that involves an instructor, a subject matter, and a student.

                  Used around the world by people of all ages and organizations of all types, Canvas arguably has the largest learning and support community in its class. It works on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones.

                  To get a glimpse of the platform’s fresh interfaces, you can visit the Canvas Network, a learning community that provides educational and instructional materials created by colleges, universities, corporate businesses, independent course developers, and other knowledge-sharing entities around the world.

                  Hosting hundreds of interesting topics from data science to horticulture, the learning network also serves as evidence to the scope, capabilities, and popularity of the Canvas LMS platform.

                  Canvas is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, which enhances the platform’s reliability, speed, scalability, and overall online performance.

                  Additionally, platform adopters enjoy a low-risk environment since cloud-based solutions require no hard stops for version updates, upgrades, or system migrations.

                  The Canvas website does not show a price matrix but says the service adopts a simple formula for computing fees: a one-time implementation fee and an annual subscription fee based on total number of users. It also promises free basic services for teachers who want to use the platform.

                  Advertising

                  In addition to Canvas, Instructure also offers Bridge (an LMS designed for corporate environments), Arc (a video platform for online learning), and Gauge (an assessment management system).

                  Check out this video if you want to learn more about Canvas Network:

                  2. Google Classroom

                  This free service from Google aims to improve the teaching and learning process using cloud technology, web apps, workflow simplification, and seamless communication between students and instructors.

                  Using Classroom, educators can easily create and schedule classes, distribute assignments, send feedback, and grade quizzes all in one place. By streamlining processes, Classroom helps teachers save time and organize classes more effectively. Both students and teachers can also work using any device anytime and anywhere.

                  Classroom works perfectly with other Google tools, having been launched initially as part of Google’s G Suite for Education. This LMS solution taps Google Drive for content storage and distribution, as well as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for the creation and sharing of instructional materials. Meanwhile it integrates Google Calendar for scheduling and Gmail for communication.

                  With G Suite, other communication channels such as chat messaging, video conferencing, and a dedicated website are enabled.

                  Easy to set up and manage, Google Classroom is free to use. One of my very first courses was actually hosted on Google Classroom.

                  Going beyond the classroom environment, Google offers G Suite Enterprise for Education for large institutions. This suite provides enhanced search and analytics capabilities as well as advanced tools for enterprise communications.

                  3. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment)

                  If budget and capability equally top your list of LMS adoption criteria, then Moodle might just fit the bill. Which is to say there’s none (i.e., bill).

                  Moodle is a free and open-source learning solution for distance education, workplace training, flipped classrooms, and other pedagogical environments.

                  It is also a full-featured LMS supported by a robust community and a thriving developer ecosystem. Not surprisingly, Moodle is used in more than 15 million courses by more than 130 million users in 230+ countries.

                  Advertising

                  Among other things, Moodle enables administrators and educators to create a dynamic and dedicated website to host organic, easily accessible, and highly customizable courses that can be experienced on desktops and mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

                  Moodle provides a personalized and intuitive dashboard as well as a host of collaboration tools for content designers, teachers, and learners. A universal calendar, an efficient file management system, an automatic notification system, multimedia integration, and a progress tracking tool all come with the package.

                  Check out this video if you want to learn more about Moodle:

                  4. Absorb

                  This platform recently bagged PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award for Best LMS.

                  Co-designed and built by former course authors, Absorb takes learning experience to the next level. This turnkey LMS solution is responsive, full-featured, and highly customizable for maximum impact.

                  Course developers can orchestrate a wide range of experiences depending on audience or learning situation. In addition to surveys, polls, and e-commerce integration, Absorb supports formal online learning and certifications standards such as AICC, SCORM, and Tin Can.

                  The user interface can also be modified to match the learner’s location, group, or department, allowing for a different look and feel for customers, channel partners, management trainees, and newly hired employees.

                  Absorb supports all personal computing devices from desktops to mobile phones. There are also native or hybrid apps for iOS and Android.

                  The only possible drawback to the platform’s powerful feature set is its pricing. The service reportedly implements a flat, one-time setup fee depending on your business and training requirements. According to the site, any plan comes with a dedicated success team for your account.

                  Although small companies are welcome to try, midsize to enterprise-scale organizations are probably the best segment to readily adopt this LMS solution.

                  Take a look at some examples of Absorb in this video:

                  Advertising

                  5. Watershed Collaborative

                  Created by a group of educators, this nonprofit rethinks the priorities of an LMS, asserting that too many systems miss the most essential elements of what makes learning stick. They promise a better user experience – emphasizing Learning before Management and System.

                  Watershed aims to support an inquiry-based learning experience through an integrated mix of online and in-person learning strategies and interactions designed expressly for teams – including collaboration, reflection, and dialogue.

                  While Watershed was founded initially to serve the K-12 education market, the company has since expanded its scope to cater to all types of teachers and learners with its video-rich, state-of-the-art platform.

                  If you’re a mission-driven educator, content creator, institution, or business, this LMS may be the one for you.

                  Watershed specializes in assisting you with the instructional design of courses and provides content production services to ensure top-quality video assets with lasting value. Their LMS makes it easy for course creators to continuously update and tailor content to support small and large groups, while ensuring the technology and instructional strategy supports communities of learners.

                  Pricing varies based on products and services, but revenues support the nonprofit’s ability to make its platform and courses available at little or no cost for high-need educators and educational settings.

                  Honorable Mentions

                  There are dozens of LMS vendors in this growing market and the brands included in foregoing list are by no means the only viable options for companies or learning institutions looking to upgrade their learning infrastructure.

                  Many other excellent services are worth checking out. These include:

                  1. Docebo is an LMS designed for hyper-engaging students, employees, customers, and other learners. The system helps organizations identify and resolve competency gaps with strategic learning interventions.
                  2. Cornerstone OnDemand is a talent, training, and performance management solution offered as an SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). This service enables learners to create personalized playlists of instructional content.
                  3. Lessonly is an LMS solution that makes it easier to recall and reinforce whatever skills or knowledge you have learned through quizzes, coaching, and constant practice.
                  4. Skillsoft is an online training and corporate learning platform developed by a two-decade old and billion-dollar company with the same name.
                  5. D2L BrightSpace is a learning management system that has all the basics for delivering excellent, rich-media experiences for classroom or workplace training.

                  Conclusion

                  There are many ways to learn but some are more effective and meaningful than others. Whether you are a teacher looking to enhance classroom learning or an HR manager creating a long-term talent development plan for employees, the key to impactful learning is to understand and bridge the needs of learners, the goals of your institution, and the actual capabilities of the learning tools you are considering.

                  Note that using multiple LMS platforms is possible although not recommended. On the other hand, adopting other learning solutions beyond LMS (such as podcasts, mentoring, and onsite in-person workshops) may significantly improve learning outcomes. Always go for products and plugins that seamlessly integrate into your core LMS tool.

                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  Read Next