By: Shawna Laird-Brush, Business Manager
“Leadership these days has become a complex art…”
I recently saw this line in a column from Harvard Business School and realized the truth of that one statement. Leadership has many definitions from the most basic to entire books written on the subject. Seminars on “How to Be a Great Leader” can be costly. And do you really know if that seminar will give you the tools to be that Great Leader.
Do an internet search for ‘definition of leadership’ and you can get over 261 million results. 261 MILLION! That’s a lot of opinions - who has the time to go through all of those? One article from a couple of years ago had ten different definitions, but each was written by an individual, albeit successful ones. There’s not one universal definition; even the dictionary companies differ slightly.
So how do you become a Great Leader? Do you emulate a known and established leader? Which one? And asking those questions leads to a whole new set of them and can be a vicious cycle in which you may never escape. So stop asking questions and develop your own leadership style.
Every Great Leader faces new and different challenges than their peers, but they all have a common goal or mission – bettering the organization with the team and resources you have. There are several commonalities between every definition you can find. Use those commonalities as building blocks for your transformation into a Great Leader.
Encourage, Inspire, Motivate
Not every member of your team can be encouraged or motivated in the same way. Find the best way for each person on the team and constantly fan that flame. While money usually motivates people to perform better, you may not have that option in your organization. A handwritten note to an employee about how their work is improving or was a great help in a project can encourage just as well as a bonus.
Create a cohesive team with shared effort
A cohesive team is one that has shared efforts and goals. Meet with your team to find the best way to bring them together. Play to each person’s strengths and what they can offer the team. The best team complements each other and shares the workload.
Influence by example
“Do what I say, not what I do” does not make a Great Leader. Be the example for your team. Shoulder your share of the workload and let the team know what you are working on while they do their part. It truly becomes a team effort and they will be more willing to work with you toward the goal.
Not necessarily based on position in hierarchy
Just because your job title has manager or director in it means you will be the best person to lead a specific project. You become a Great Leader by identifying those in your organization that can also lead and encouraging and teaching them how to become more effective.
Focus on the individuals
Don’t become so task-oriented that you lose the individuals working on those tasks. A Great Leader will guide individuals through challenges, rather than focus on specific task completion. Monitor your team and the effectiveness of procedures. Work with team members to improve the process/procedure or find a solution to a problem.
Leverage an attitude
Your attitude will set the tone for the entire team. Being positive, even during adversity, is not naïve; but a sign of a Great Leader. If you panic over the small bump in the road, then your team will reflect the same attitude and could spiral out of control. Set a positive tone and your team will as well.
Inspire trust and confidence
Ultimately, being a Great Leader comes down to trust. If the team trusts you, then the team can and will make great things happen. Praise your team in public and address any problems in private. The more confidence and trust that your team has in you, the more they will be willing to work toward a shared goal.