If you’re already in a leadership role, you’ll already know that having effective leadership skills means that you are:
- performing well yourself and
- uplifting the performance of others.
What skills do you need to do that?
This is #1 of a series of three posts that define effective leadership skills. The posts include real-life examples of situations where people have displayed these skills.
John C Maxwell: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
4 Key Elements of Effective Leadership Skills:
1. Leadership: able to develop teamwork and maximise resources within a group to give the most effective achievement of group objectives. This involves:
- Include your team in decision making. They feel ownership of the decisions and a commitment to goals and procedures.
- Keep staff members informed about the performance of the company. Be honest, if it’s struggling, tell them.
- Keep staff in the loop. They feel appreciated and included.
2. Problem Analysis – the ability to identify problems and resource pertinent data. Recognise important information and identify possible causes of problems.
- Involve employees in problem identification and decision making. It helps them to own decisions.
- If a problem occurs, there’s no value in blaming the person who caused it. Concentrate on finding solutions. A calm reaction will send a positive message to your employees. It gives them the tools they’ll need to respond to any problems they encounter.
Effective Leadership Example:
Janine is the principal of a local school. Her budget always seemed to be depleted by the copy-paper bill. She got cross when she saw teachers lining up to photocopy worksheets by the hundreds.
One sports afternoon, she saw a teacher’s aide photocopying reams of ‘rainy day’ material.
The aide wasn’t taking part in the sports lesson. The teacher had asked him to copy some activity books ‘in case’ they were ever needed for his class.
Rather than blowing her cool, Janine considered three approaches:
- Find out which teacher the aide was copying the books for. Ask that teacher to delay in case the books were never needed.
- Install a locking code on the photocopier to limit each teacher’s use.
- Explain the situation at an admin meeting. Ask the teachers to come up with a solution for helping the budget to go further.
Which option do you think would allow Janine to show effective leadership skills?
How could Janine keep her staff in the loop, give them ownership of decisions and keep her relationship with her staff positive?
3. Empathy – the ability to be aware of others’ needs and one’s own impact. Effective leaders display consideration and are unlikely to be abrasive.
– High expectations are essential. Being aware of individuals’ difficulties and individuals’ differences is also important.
– Balancing our personal lives with our professional work can be a challenge. If a staff member is struggling to meet expectations, empathise with them. Work on some solutions together.
4. Flexibility – the ability to change our approach/style to reach a goal.
– Setting high expectations for behaviour and work ethic are important. But so too is the ability to be flexible.
– Many leaders say: ‘high expectations are important. Flexibility and tolerance of those expectations are also important’.
While striving to high jump over a 1.5-meter bar, you might need several attempts. Some people may even need a step ladder.
Effective Leadership Example #2:
Nathan worked for a bank as a loans analyst. In his position, he assessed and approved (or not) loan applications.
As soon as Nathan became a dad, he wanted to work part-time for the first year of his son’s life.
When Nathan applied for part-time leave, his supervisors knew that they couldn’t refuse. He was a key member of the team, so they were quite disappointed that he’d asked.
They considered three approaches:
– They could steer Nathan into a position where he would accept a redundancy package.
– Allow Nathan to take leave on the condition that he could work set hours each week.
– Ask Nathan to set up a secure home office and ask him to show how he could still achieve his KPIs.
Which option do you think enabled the supervisors to show effective leadership skills? How could they maintain their high standards and show empathy and flexibility? Show their employees that they are valued and trusted?
Developing effective leadership skills needs a long-term approach. It takes serious effort, but the results are worth it.
To your business success!