Whether you’re leading a team, several teams, a branch, or even a company, or preparing to take on any of those roles, leading others can be intimidating.
Even when you’re doing a relatively good job in terms of decision-making and steering, it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough to be a truly good leader.
As a leader you’re also likely too busy to attend long-term training or courses that could improve your leadership skills.
While you will eventually have to take formal training or coaching to fill any gaps you lack, there are many ways to improve your leadership skills, even when you’re short on time.
It’s important to decide where you stand as a leader, what you do well, and what you don’t. If you’re working in an organization with a quality HR program in place, chances are, your performance review will already give you this data. You can also look at performance expectations, competencies, and behaviors expected for leaders in your organization if you have access to this data.
In most cases, your primary job as a leader will depend on what and how you are leading. If you’re working with a small team, your goals are to facilitate others to do work in a way that contributes to organizational goals. If you’re leading a department, your goal would be to lead the department in a way that allows the department to succeed at numerous goals and strategize future direction and growth in line with organizational goals and operational vision. You can then fairly easily see how you perform in your role based on what is expected in that role.
Evaluation should also extend to taking a few minutes to review how you handled a situation, deciding what you could have done better, and deciding what you actively did well or badly. Asking for feedback from those involved may be helpful but isn’t always a good idea.
Effective communication is one of the most important skills you can hold as a leader. Effective communication is empathetic, clear, cogent, and directed to the audience you’re speaking to. It’s also largely about listening rather than speaking, because the information you receive is often significantly more important than what you share.
Good communication also extends to time-management (such as keeping meetings brief and to the point), choosing methods of communication, and learning to pay attention to how people respond to what you are communicating.
Practice Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence ties into good communication as well as good leadership. Here, emotional intelligence measures your ability to understand your own emotions while managing those of others, so that you can react to how people feel, and react to situations with empathy. Why is this important for a good leader?
If you respond with empathy to problems, arguments, requests, and considerations, you’ll be able to build relationships, build trust, and improve the loyalty of everyone working with you. These factors are each eventually necessary for motivating others, for convincing others, and for building a friendly workplace.
As a leader, your job is often as much or more about people management than the technical skills required on the job listing. If you cannot connect with individuals, communicate effectively, and build trust and rapport, you cannot lead.
The process of building these skills does not require a great deal of time, because you can largely practice while doing your job, simply taking the time to step back and evaluate what and how you did and how you could improve.