With a continuously evolving environment and multiple business functions at the workplace, every professional today can expect to assume the responsibility of a leader at some point in their career.
Irrespective of the position you hold currently, there will come a time when it will be incumbent for you to motivate, inspire and challenge your subordinates… to lead! However, for being an effective leader, you first need to excel in different areas of management – from planning and organization to communication and delegation. While technical skills are a requisite for you to climb up the ladder, it must be complemented with good managerial and human skills for a sure-shot at career ascent.
One of the most powerful leaders today, Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo, once said “Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder.” This can’t be truer. There is really no hard-and-fast guide to effective management and leadership; however, there are some golden rules that might make it easier for you to know exactly which trick you need from your bag of skills on the hardest of days.
Here are some of the key skills that will help you become a successful manager and encourage the people around you to trust you enough as a leader to follow you willingly:
Effective communication is critical to express your ideas comprehensibly and coherently and guide your team to a better understanding, which makes it a key management skill. More than anything else, a potent manager should possess the ability to listen and maintain an open dialog with his or her co-workers and subordinates. This will not only increase your credibility within the organisation, but also garner respect for you as an effective leader.
2. Strategic Thinking
One of the most important requisites of being a manager is to be a strategic and tactical thinker. You should be able to use critical thinking to anticipate potential issues, identify their roots, and develop sound action plan while making decisions and solving problems.
To be able to think strategically and see the bigger picture, a manager must also possess high levels of emotional intelligence (EI). It will not only improve your interpersonal skills, but also enable you to become a rational leader while de-escalating a difficult situation.
According to Nelson Mandela, a leader is like a shepherd who stays behind the flock and lets them go ahead without them realising that they were being directed by him all along.
Being a manager or a leader doesn’t necessarily imply that you have the authority to control. It is, in fact, an opportunity to let your team flourish by recognising their good work and providing them a second chance upon failure instead of criticism or flak. Creating a positive environment will motivate your fellow workers to perform better.
4. Conflict Resolution
For effective management, it is essential to handle issues that may disrupt the functioning of your team with a level-headed view. Playing favourites is most likely to foster a negative environment and inhibit motivation; hence leaving the team dysfunctional. While it may be a challenge to remain fair and consistent while resolving conflicts, adhering to a strict moral code will allow your team to feel at ease around you and define you as a successful leader.
5. Lead with Example
In one of his books, John Maxwell has written “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” To lead your team to excellence, you must first aspire to excel as a manager and hold yourself to the highest standards of professionalism.
It is your attitude towards your role that will set examples for your team members and determine their behaviour. So, if you wish your team to work together and give their 100% to any assignment that comes through, all you need to do is do the same FIRST.
Adopting these practices in your everyday work-life will ensure that when the time comes, you will emerge as an effective manager and a leader who is looked upon and respected.