Essential Leadership skills: Act like a leader, talk like a leader, become a leader ·
Once you start to act like a leader and talk like a leader, you are well on your way to becoming one. Here are just a few simple mindsets and patterns of behaviour that will set you on the right path. While these are by no means everything you need, they are good basics that will get you started, and will keep helping you throughout the whole leadership journey, no matter how far and high it will take you. Please also check out the previous article: Essential Leadership Skills: Influence from trust and respect. It will show you another essential aspect of leadership.
Set an example: Once you start really owning your work, and gaining influence, people will keep an eye on you. Prove them all, that you are exactly what you seem to be, and set an example with your ownership, high standards of work and dependable character.
Be consistent with your decisions, priorities, actions, and results: Keep your priorities and work according to your plans and deliver constantly good results. Don’t let your mood or motivation swings to rule your plans and the quality of your results and lean on your discipline on those moments that your motivation and focus would be otherwise faltering. Nothing speaks more about inability to lead than constantly changing priorities, frequently changed or forgotten decisions and failure to follow plans and deliver constant quality results.
Remove uncertainty, bring clarity, order and structure: Leaders remove uncertainty and bring order to their environment. Always seek to clarify anything that is unclear for you, for your teams, your management, customers, or your other stakeholders. Those who can bring order and structure to any chaotic setting will be naturally seen as people able to lead. This also should reflect in your behaviour: Don’t panic, don’t get visibly anxious, and don’t let others see if you feel that you are getting overwhelmed. If you feel that you are over your head and in trouble, just keep your cool, and start figuring out things one by one, and go seek for help if you need to, but do it in a calm and collected manner. These situations will always clear out one way or another, and more collected you are, the faster it happens. In a crisis, it might be just one person’s calm behaviour, that keeps the whole team from collapsing into a chaos and despair, so if you ever have to fake something, this is the place to do it: No matter, how scared and overwhelmed you might feel, don’t let it show. Give others a chance to see that at least one person is in control of himself, and thus feel that the situation is not hopeless.
Spread optimism and believe in success: It is essential to keep up the optimism in any given situation, good or bad. Your colleagues will be looking for any encouragement they can get in tough situations, and showing that you believe in success can really make a difference on how the team performs and manages the challenges. Remember, that there is a difference between fools hope, and realistic optimism: You shouldn’t blindly hope that everything will somehow work out, but you should be always looking ways to make things work out and make sure that you keep up your and your team’s spirit while doing that. Optimism with a dash of realism is infectious, and often it doesn’t take more than one high spirited and unyielding leader among the team to keep up the motivation even in the direst situations. Make sure that you are the one.
Do not gossip: Don’t gossip or spread rumours about the colleagues, management or the company. If you get caught in such discussions, talk only about the facts you know, and know that you are allowed to speak of. Gossiping is worthless and lowers your status and endangers your integrity. If you are not willing to speak in front of the people you are talking about, just keep your thoughts to yourself. See also chapter “office politics”.
Be considerate and never lose your temper: Basic workplace ethics reminder here. Just be considerate and polite when interacting with any stakeholders at work situations. Please, sorry, and thank you are essential words in your vocabulary. aAlso, never lose your temper in conflicts or discussions. One tantrum at an in-proper time will set back your hard-gained respect and influence a great deal. After all, if you cannot manage your own feelings and actions, how could you manage other people?
Never second guess the decisions: Undermining or second guessing any decisions in hallway banters after the meetings or bigger company events is bad behaviour for anyone, and it is even worse if done by leaders. Once the decision is made, and the relevant stakeholders have agreed and committed to it, the only discussions should be the execution plan and feedback in the follow-up meetings. Second guessing the decision will just create confusion and doubt that slows down the already decided execution. If you can, kill these hallway gossips by getting the people to move on and start executing the decision. There are always some non-optimal decisions made in the meetings, and some of them have to be turned around later. However, if something was agreed in a meeting, and stakeholders (even grudgingly) approved and committed to decision, the decisions are to be executed, unless a further corrective decision is made with the same group.
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