Tipps for Effective Leadership

Leadership is a combination of practical skills and personal values that, when used together; create an atmosphere in which people feel valued and motivated to pursue a clear vision. It's like Kung Fu meets Feng Shui (that works much better phonetically than in writing). All Good leaders have one thing in common: They know how to seek advice. It's a bit like parenting. No one who raises a child for the first time understands the job perfectly. You have to keep learning and growing. These experts know the drill. They've written about their experiences in leadership, spoken in front of mass audiences, and honed their skills over many years.

The following are some concepts that has to be observed in any Leadership trait:

1. Leadership is not always what you do but how you do it.

It has been observed that people in leadership roles who have a great vision for where their organization needs to go but the way they manage the process and the way they treat people becomes a barrier to their success. Leaders who embrace humility, graciousness, and attend to their people, will not only achieve more but have more support along the way. (Note, this did not apply to Steve Jobs. Just saying.)

2. Effective leaders know their limitations.

Most leaders have specific gifts and skills. They can't be good at everything. An effective leader recognizes limitations and attracts other people to compliment his/her skills.

3. Leaders need to show, not just tell.

Always set positive and motivating examples.

4. Communicate effectively.

Effective communication is imperative, both in the office and in life. Great leaders make sure they are heard and understood, but they also know the importance of listening. Communication is a two-way street, and making the most of it will have your company zooming forward instead of pumping the breaks.

5. Watch out for (and avoid) common pitfalls of leadership.

Everyone makes mistakes, but some of them are avoidable. Being aware of common mistakes, while not focusing on them to the point that they become self-fulfilling prophecies, can be the first step toward not repeating them.

6. Never stop improving.

Great leaders -- indeed, great people -- are constantly learning and always trying to improve themselves. There's always something that you can work on or a new skill to master. Be sure to keep your mind open to new ideas and possibilities.

7. Great leaders have a sense of humor.

There are many examples of leaders using humor to engage others, disarm conflict and lighten the mood. President Ronald Reagan, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, and First Lady Michelle Obama have used humor effectively in their leadership roles. A leader who has a sense of humor, especially about themselves, appears more confident and attracts confidence from others.

8. Leaders do what needs to be done.

An effective leader is willing to do what needs to be done to move the organization forward. Whether this requires having difficult conversations with a staff member, covering for a colleague who is ill, or making the right decision rather than the easy decision, a leader who does what needs to be done is a leader worth following.

9. Show empathy in tangible ways.

"You can't just be sympathetic and try to be liked every time someone comes to you with a problem or concern. But you need to be able to understand the problems, as well as that person's point of view. You can't just dismiss them out of hand. And if you're able to see things from their point of view and truly be empathetic, you'll be able to frame your response in a way that will prove you've heard them, and also answer their specific concerns. They might not always be happy, but it will lead to more acceptances if you have to tell them something they're not eager to hear."

10. Don't be afraid of the truth.

"Be willing to look at the truth, no matter how uncomfortable. That includes truths about yourself, your product, your people. If your product stinks and your people aren't performing, pretending that just ain't so won't change anything. At the same time, don't beat yourself up. Just look at it, address it, and move on."

11. Leadership is a service and not a destination.

Sometimes people seek a position of leadership for the position itself. They may desire the power or the acclaim that goes with the position. However, a leader that seeks to serve rather than to be served will always be more effective.

12. Never forget your responsibility.

This classic line from Spiderman reinforces the idea that leaders must own their responsibility during the good times and the bad times. Leaders who relinquish responsibility to avoid taking blame usually dig a much deeper hole for themselves. Leaders who step up to their responsibility generate more trust and respect.

13. Get comfortable in dynamic environments.

"In today's dynamic and uncertain business environment, the most successful firms are able to act quickly and decisively in response to change. Strong self-efficacy, high achievement, autonomy, and the ability to take decisive actions in the face of uncertainty and dynamic environments are critical capabilities for an organization. Preparing individuals to evaluate a dynamic environment and act in the face of uncertainty is a particular strength of the military and it should be a priority for executive training programs. It all begins with having a clear vision and a specific mission that empowers people to act in alignment with the company objectives."

14. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.

"Leaders find success when they create teams composed of people who are experts in their areas, and many times, smarter than the leader who's hiring them. Great leaders give them room to grow and innovate. These are the leaders who people want to work for. Unlike the micromanager leader whose insecurity leads them to create teams that include people 'just like them.' These teams may make the leader feel comfortable, versus challenged for the purposes of creating the best work."

15. Honor the past, built for the future.

"When you're leading a new team or joining a new organization, honor the new team/organization's past, and then build them a bridge to the future. Too many leaders inherit a new team and want to tell everyone how much success they had in the past, and how good their old organization/team was. When leaders disrespect their new team, team members start asking each other the following questions: If your old organization or team was so good, why did you leave? If your old organization is so good, why don't you go back?"

16. Make it a priority to develop your current leaders, nurture your future leaders, and hire great leaders .

"Strong leadership is one of the key pillars of success at any organization. People aren't necessarily born with great leadership skills. As such, organizations can't just sit back and hope people will be great leaders. Leaders need to be shaped and molded. And by leaders, I don't just mean executives--I mean managers at every level of the organization. Too often frontline managers are overlooked when it comes to leadership development, when the reality is that 70 percent to 80 percent of the workforce reports to frontline managers. The results of a study we did with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services reveals 79 percent of global executives believe lack of frontline leadership capability negatively impacts company performance. As such, it's critical to the success of any organization that these people be given the tools, resources, and development to succeed."

17. Always lead with character .

"Leaders with character are highly effective. They have no need to pull rank or resort to command and control to get results. Instead, they're effective because they're knowledgeable, admired, trusted, and respected. This helps them secure buy-in automatically, without requiring egregious rules or strong oversight designed to force compliance."

18. Nurture a better self-awareness .

"Leadership has got nothing to do with figuring it out and everything to do with feeling it out. It is an 'awareness,' and for so long in my businesses, I too was not aware. Leaders aren't born; they evolve. And to evolve you must first be self-aware. To develop leadership skills, allow yourself to be open, honest, and real. Be confident, not arrogant. Confident leaders lead through values, vision, and vulnerability. Arrogant leaders lead through fear, blame, and ego."

19. Good leadership is about good alignment .

"If you think about achieving your vision, it's like climbing a mountain. Executives and managers think they have to be all buttoned up and have the path up the mountain all mapped out, then they shout the directions back down to their organization. But really, leadership is about alignment, and that means we can achieve a lot more if we all go up that mountain together."

20. Use the right posture for leadership.

"Your posture and body language needs to be intentional and consistent. Always be aware of your posture when you are sitting, standing and walking. Roll shoulders up, back, and down. Straighten your spine; leaders don't slouch. Nor do they intimidate with off-putting body language such as crossed arms, puffed out chest and finger waving. Align your appearance, head-to-toe, with how you wish to be known. Aligning your appearance also means dressing the part head-to-toe. This includes wardrobe, haircut, eyeglasses and even shoes. Leaders look the part--not like they just rolled out of bed. A pressed dress shirt or wool sweater, well-fitting trousers, leather shoes and belt is a good uniform to adopt. A tie and/or sport jacket give extra bonus points for executive presence. Update your eyeglasses every other year and get a good haircut. Dress, head-to-toe, as the leader you want to be."

21. Know your team and create camaraderie.

In addition to providing goals and vision, you will also be in charge of motivation, and you must know how to get what you need from each individual member of your team. In conjunction with this, you must remain available for advice and support. In order to show your willingness to help, Leah Falgout, Assistant Director of Residence Life at Lamar University, advises keeping the line of communication open. As a leader you are responsible for creating an exciting, energetic and rewarding environment for your group, inspiring them to work toward common goals. You must be able to identify and recognize the various talents, interests, strengths and weaknesses of your team members and use them all to the group's advantage. You've probably heard that "there's no 'I' in team." Yes, you are the leader, but an effective leader understands that she is also part of the team and never loses the concept of working together to achieve common objectives.

22. Evaluate Performances and Appreciate Others' Work.

Look at what you and your group have accomplished, daily, weekly, monthly or whatever time frame makes sense for the activity involved. Are you meeting goals? Are there particular problem areas that arise repeatedly? Are all members doing what is required of them? Are you handling problems swiftly and effectively? Are you staying firm in your decisions? Be sure to ask your group to assess how you're doing as well; evaluating yourself helps you ensure that you are treating everyone equally, fairly and consistently. Of course where there are problems, you need to address them, but equally important is offering praise when someone is doing a good job.

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