Effective leadership is measured by how successful your followers become. As leadership expert, John Maxwell says, “If you call yourself a leader and no one is following, you are just out for a walk.” Having effective leadership means mentoring your employees to excel, following your lead.
Think about leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. Think about biographies of great mentors and teachers. Remember people you have observed with greater leadership qualities than others. They all have a pattern that you can see with some of the following common traits.
- They are confident. They don’t second-guess themselves. They make decisions based on experience, research and knowledge. They give others the opportunity to express ideas and concerns, if those ideas and concerns are backed up with valid points.
- They are goal-oriented. They define where they want to be, how to get there and how long it should take.
- They are relational. They not only take, they give. People know when they are being taken advantage of. When a leader does not cultivate healthy relationships with his team, his followers find a leader who does.
- They are disciplined. They spend time researching their company, the competition, and the future.
- They are able to look at the “big picture”. They help their people be successful. They give adequate support and training. The result is more time to focus on critical work for the leader as well as more productive work from the team. This is effective leadership!
Reviewing these common traits can help you realize you don’t have to be a born leader to display effective leadership. All you need do is consider all the above factors in your approach to solving a problem. The following is an example of how a leader might go about doing this.
Imagine your staff shortened their summer holidays to meet financial goals and now their morale is low. Your goal is to improve morale, increase training and maintain profits by the New Year.
You analyze the company data and it suggests annual profits could triple if half your workers worked a double-shift on Christmas Day. Based on your experience, research, and knowledge, what do you do?
You are a confident leader who has done her research and has listened to the concerns of your staff, but based on your experience, you sense you are not yet ready to make this decision.
Tackling any similar situation, you must first ask yourself, “How would someone with effective leadership respond?” You have to analyze the situation using the remaining leadership traits as a basis to formulate key questions.
- What are my goals? They are to improve morale and increase training while maintaining profits. Will having everyone work overtime on Christmas Day meet this goal?
- Will this cultivate healthy relationships? Is working Christmas Day something your employees will want, and what are you willing to give them in return? Remember it is about give and take.
- Am I disciplined? Have I done the research to find out if this is feasible? Are there employees that don’t celebrate Christmas? Are employees willing to celebrate Christmas Eve with their families instead of Christmas Day, in exchange for a substantial bonus and extra time off next year?
- How does this affect the big picture? Are your employees simply too tired? Will there be long-term negative repercussions, even if you present them with an offer they can’t refuse? Have you taken into account how motivating them with a bonus and extra time off could impact next year’s bottom line?
Now you are ready to make a well-informed decision – an effective leadership decision – one that is worthy of a great leader!