What do you think makes up a great leader? Is your boss a good leader? You have to realize that bosses are not always good leaders. In hindsight, some of them are not even leaders. Leadership is the capability to inspire others to be better. Inspiring leaders are those who do the work that will inspire others to follow in their footsteps. Leaders are thinkers and doers. They will make you want to better yourself.
1. Take Charge
When SMRT Chairman Seah Moon Ming took the cudgels of the company, one of the first things he did was to apologize to the public for the scandals and controversies that wrapped the company’s management of Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). He bowed to the public during a press conference, knowing that one of the first steps that he had to take was to take charge of the company’s mistakes. He promised to do well, and he has since then.
2. Lead by Example
It is going to be hard to follow a manager who just hides in the office all day and simply sends a list of tasks to the employees. If you want to be a good leader, you have to set an example. Asking your employees to arrive on time will be laughable if you are never punctual. It is easier to manage a team when you set a good example yourself. Remember that infamous story about Kobe Bryant working out his shots at 3 AM? If you were a member of that Lakers team, how would you feel if he asked you to do the same?
3. Be Humble
The main difference between a boss and a leader is that the latter knows how to share the spotlight with the team. A good leader will give credit where credit is due. This is why Mr. Seah is also an effective leader. On more than one occasion, he has highlighted the critical roles that SMRT employees do for the company. If a business is successful, it is because of everyone’s contribution and not the work of a single person.
4. Improve Your Communication Skills
Effective leaders want to be heard and understood. But more than that, they also want to listen. If there are problems in the office, good leaders make sure that their doors are open for communication. If the employees are unhappy, effective leaders should be willing to listen to their woes. Maybe they are not happy with the direction the company is taking? This is also important for you to be able to listen to your employees’ ideas and insights.
5. Set Clear Boundaries
Your employees should never mistake your kindness for being a pushover. Effective leaders will set boundaries that will command the respect of the team. They are firm with these boundaries, and they will not tolerate anything that will confuse these boundaries for something else. While you can be friends with your employees, that doesn’t mean that you will tolerate inefficiency, tardiness, and absenteeism in the office.
6. Be Open to Learning
One of the greatest strengths of leaders is their openness to learning. Great leaders know that their knowledge and skills are never enough. They know the importance of listening to their employees’ ideas, as well as seeking knowledge whether from industry leaders, mentors, or advanced classes. They need to actively seek out new avenues for learning.
7. Trust Your Subordinates
If you are micromanaging your team, know that you are not being a great leader. While there are some instances that you need to micromanage a project, that doesn’t always work. In the end, micromanagement frustrates good employees and force them to look for another job. If you believe in your employees, you won’t need to micromanage them. After all, you’re the one who hired them for the job. Trusting your employees will go a long way toward making them more productive.
8. Work with a Mentor
Do you have a mentor? You should have one. A mentor is someone whose work ethics and leadership skills you look up to. The courage to ask someone to be a mentor is what’s going to separate you from all the other “leaders” in your industry. Ask your mentor questions that will improve your leadership abilities.
9. Learn from Your Mistakes
Even the best leaders are not born exactly that way. They have to learn from their mistakes. Trial and error makes a good leader. Their ability to learn from these past mistakes is what separates them from other less-effective leaders. These mistakes allow them to grow and improve.
Becoming an effective leader is not a one-time thing. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to commit to it. You have to spend time honing the skills you need. Most of all, you need to approach it as a lifelong commitment.