Leadership Tools for Success
What separates good carpenters from great carpenters? It’s the tools in their toolbox. In much the same way, average leaders are distinguished from great leaders by the tools in their leadership toolbox. Of course, the more tools you have, the more effective a leader you will be and the better the quality of your tools, the better the end product. In the world of business, it is those leaders that possess the right tools that will consistently carry their organizations to the top. Average leaders get by. Great leaders get results. Here is a list of leadership traits that when embraced, will propel you from good to great.
1. A great leader leads by example. Leadership is an action, not a title. There is a big difference between being a leader and being a boss. While both hold a title of authority, a boss expects compliance, where a leader earns their authority by setting a positive example for others. A leader’s attitude and behavior should guide and inspire those around them. The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.
2. A great leader is always open to feedback. The “my way or the highway” approach is outdated in today’s business world. First off, it creates too strong a power differential between workers and supervisors. It will instantly leave employees feeling constrained and voiceless. Effective leaders understand that “my way” may not always be the best way and they’re always open to input from those around them. They nurture their worker’s ideas and empower them to feel they have a genuine impact on the success of the organization.
3. A great leader provides concrete goals and objectives. When employees lack guidance, they lack direction. Conversely, when workers have a good understanding of their role and are given a clear vision, they are much more likely to meet their goals. Great leaders allow their employees to collaboratively engage in the goal setting process. Workers will experience a greater sense of accomplishment and will feel more challenged and motivated in the process.
4. A great leader instills confidence and helps boost self-esteem. The best leaders are those who inspire others to do great things. Great leader foster and nourish their employees’ strengths while helping them work through their weaknesses. Effective leaders provide workers with opportunities to improve and grow. They also empower their employees by encouraging autonomy and allowing workers the freedom to take action in support of the organization’s mission.
5. A great leader is flexible and open to change. Oftentimes, leaders fall victim to tunnel vision and become too rigid in the way they view problems. “Well, this is the way we have always done it.” When this happens, the organization runs the risk of dampening creativity and progress. Great leaders open the floor to new ideas and always remain flexible. They are able to adjust the rudders of the ship in order to steer it in the direction of success.
6. A great leader maintains a positive working environment. There is nothing that hinders morale more than conflict and tension in the workplace. Effective leaders ensure that employees enjoy their workspace and that it is always free of harassment. If workers feel intimidated in raising problematic issues, the issues will go unaddressed. When employees are afraid to raise concerns, the organization’s progress will come to a halt. Great leaders create a space where employees feel secure in voicing their concerns and where their ideas can flourish.
7. A great leader provides employees with their own tools. Effective leaders ensure that employees are receiving the training and knowledge necessary to do their job well. When employees feel stifled due to a lack of resources, it negatively impacts output and the quality of everyone’s work. When workers don’t have to worry about resources, they can better apply creativity and innovation to their work.
8. A great leader provides praise and opportunities for growth. If the only time an employee gets feedback is when their performance is lacking, any desire to improve will be lost. It is essential that workers know when they are doing things well. This may come in the form of a promotion, a raise, or recognition within the organization. A simple acknowledgment of their efforts can go a long way. Employees have a greater sense of motivation when they know their hard work will pay dividends.
It is often said that leaders are born, not made. I believe leadership cannot be given; it must be earned. Great leaders take the time to acquire and hone their skills through experience, hard work, and intentional self-development. Do you want to be a carpenter that builds average homes or do you want to be a carpenter that builds dream homes? By adding these tools to your leadership toolbox you will be building a strong foundation for you and your organization to grow and strive.
Contributed by: Dr. Carlos Garcia