Leadership at work is a contentious issue. Everybody wants to be a leader, and believes they have the ability to be one. But if that were true, there wouldn’t be so many bad leaders out there.
Whether you aspire to be in a managerial position, or to spearhead the project life cycle, you need to understand these seven ways you can become a good leader in your workplace.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
One of the biggest mistakes new leaders make is not being able to delegate. This is especially true when employees are promoted from within the ranks. You can read more about team structure here.
Worker bees are used to doing the grunt work—they get delegated to, they don’t have anyone below them to share the burden.
Avoid trying to do everything yourself—as leader of a project or team, you have your own duties. You may have been used to doing the social media scheduling before, but now someone else needs to take that task on so you can focus on your other jobs.
2. Be Communicative
Just because you are in a leadership position doesn’t mean that you can keep information to yourself. Unless something is highly confidential, you should be talking to your team members whenever possible.
Be clear and concise in what you have to say—send recaps of meetings once they have concluded, or ask someone to take minutes so everyone is on the same page.
Don’t be afraid to share your creative process with your team and get their feedback on tasks or projects that the entire team may be working on.
While your perspective is important, recognise that someone else maybe closer to a subject than you are.
You may have an opinion about which book template works best for a client but that may be completely different from the team member who is working with that client. Speak to them about it and explain why you have a different opinion. But also listen to what they have to say in return.
3. Be Confident, Not Arrogant
A key aspect of leadership is confidence, which is not a gift bestowed onto everyone. If you are struggling with confidence, you can try the fake-it-till-you-make-it approach. People often find that pretending to be confident leads to actual confidence.
But self-confidence isn’t an excuse to be arrogant. Avoid having a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. You and your team are all in this together.
Remember that you don’t know everything—that’s why you have a team, so you can use their expertise alongside your own. If you don’t know how to write a tender, you can turn to team members for help instead of trying to figure it out on your own.
Asking for help won’t hurt your confidence—instead, it will humanise you to your team members.
4. Lead by Example
This is easier said than done. As a lower-level employee, you would have become used to long hours. Creating a new website for the company? You would likely have spent time at home looking through free WordPress templates to find the perfect fit.
But that’s supposed to change when you climb the corporate ladder, isn’t it? After all, you have people working under you to do the work. Surely you can go home on time while they finish their tasks?
Not so. A good leader stays by their team’s side through thick and thin. Is a major deadline coming up? Join the team in an all-nighter or working over the weekend. This will stop any resentment from building in your team and show them that you are still one of the people.
5. Empower Employees
A leader doesn’t just give their team work to do—they make it possible for the team to move into new positions or get promoted.
Allow your team to take part in courses or seminars that will help their professional development. Let them learn about new opportunities, like better human translation practices or management skills.
Leaders should also empower employees to share their feedback and their knowledge. As we have mentioned, by dint of being a leader, you don’t know everything. Let your team share their skills and knowledge with you so you can learn from them, and vice versa.
Business coaching or getting an outside keynote speaker to come in and speak to the company can develop a team’s vision, collaboration, creativity and overall performance.
Good leaders make it possible for employees to learn and better themselves, instead of trying to hold them back.
6. Take Responsibility
People in positions of power also have more responsibility, whether they are starting an online business or overseeing a small team. If there is a mistake, you will have to accept responsibility for it even if it wasn’t directly your fault, but the fault of a team member’s.
This is the difficult part of being a leader, but you can also avoid errors by inspiring your team to strive for the best results. Don’t grind them down by expecting too much, or by treating them like automatons.
Make your team members feel like one important part of a whole, and they will endeavour to do their best.
7. Be Emotionally Stable
A leader goes through a rollercoaster of emotions but they need to keep themselves in check when communicating with their team.
People will make mistakes, and you will have had a tough day sometimes. But that doesn’t mean you should shout or bang doors. Not only does this come across as immature, but it will undermine your leadership in the eyes of your team.
For example, if someone has failed to follow the publishing guide and made a mistake, take them aside and explain the problem to them. Ask them for solutions, or offer up your own opinions.
Don’t dress them down or humiliate them in front of the team—they will be feeling bad about their mistake (and if they aren’t, explain to them why it’s a cause of concern), you don’t need to add to their woes.
As a leader, you want to come across as emotionally stable. You don’t want to frighten your team; you want to motivate them so they do their best work with you and reach the company’s sales goals.
Work with Your Team
A leader isn’t separate from their team—they are a part of the team, albeit at a different level. Work with your team at all times, employ effective communication techniques, and help your team grow. Remember to respect your team for their expertise and work, and they will hold you in similarly high regard.