There’s a distinct difference between a manager and a leader. But you can be both. In fact, leadership is an essential quality as demands for instant results and higher performance standards have become the norm in today’s competitive business environment.
So how do you become not just a boss, but a leader?
The answer lies in building relationships with your employees. Leadership has less to do with what you do for yourself and everything to do with what you do to help others succeed. Healthy employer/employee relationships establish good will, engender confidence, foster trust and build healthy cultures. Here’s how to make it happen:
Embrace the Challenges of Leadership
A hallmark of leadership is genuine concern for the people who work for you and a sincere commitment to working with them for the success of your business.
- Be a motivator. People do good work for the pay, the prestige or the recognition. They also work effectively because they’re in sync with their leader. To motivate others, determine what they want from their lives and careers and how you can help give it to them. Great leaders focus on helping others become better. They want their own legacy to be directly related to the success of their team and the organization they serve.
- Constantly build your interpersonal skills. The ability to relate well to others, and vice versa, is critical in earning trust and building a foundation of respect.
Be a Lifelong Learner
Always keep learning and evolving. Expose yourself to new ideas. Discover what works for you – and put those ideas into practice.
- Never rely on quick fixes or gimmicks to overcome challenges. Constantly develop and implement practice methods that facilitate productivity and enhance results for the long term.
You’re only as Good as Your Team
In order to be productive, people need to acknowledge that they’re part of something larger. You’d be hard pressed to identify very many business achievements that were accomplished by a person acting solo. Sure, every team member plays a unique role, but it’s the group synergy that brings them to fruition. And building that team is your job as a leader.
- Demonstrate how working as a team benefits everyone involved. Each employee must clearly understand what the overall success of the business means to them, as well as how they play a part in driving results.
- Partner with your employees. Work alongside them to simultaneously meet objectives and help them grow in their roles.
- Whenever possible, offer employees more responsibility. Provide team members with support and resources – without micromanaging.
- Establish two-way trust. Create an environment where people are encouraged to speak out, without threat of reprimand. Then employees can celebrate as a team when things are going well and feel confident to express ideas, opinions and suggestions.
Push the Envelope
Think ahead, calculate what’s around the next corner, and identify opportunities that others don’t see.
- Be fearless. Embark upon new things and challenge the status quo – within reason.
- Be authentic and genuine. Sustainable leadership is not an act. Sincerity has limitless power and comes from knowing who you are and what you want to represent. The most powerful leaders make you feel as if they are speaking directly to you.