Managing consultant and leadership expert, Louis Carter reveals the great management practices that every leader should implement in order to be successful.
All great leaders have had to work their way up the corporate ladder. Whether you are a lawyer, a software engineer, or even a chemical manufacturer, you gradually build your skills and reputation over time as you continue advancing in your career path. What many fail to consider along the way, however, is that rising in your company will inevitably bring you to a management position. Even with the skills that you have accumulated as a working professional, not everyone is a natural at managing others and completing projects as a unit rather than as an individual. Most people are not comfortable with managing or being managed. The majority of management relationships are ineffective and cause great problems in the workplace. In order to be a great manager you must also be a great leader.
The good news? Great leaders can be forged. If you have passion and drive, you can learn the skills necessary to be the leader that will carry your company forward. Even better, becoming a leader is as simple as learning how to build and nurture relationships with the people in your workforce. How can you become one of these amazing leaders? Let’s break down my formula for successful leadership I researched in my book, In Great Company to determine what you may need to apply to your current leadership strategy.
Management Is External While Leadership Is Internal
While being in a management position is often equated with leadership, most people think you don’t necessarily have to be a leader to be a manager. People typically associate management with oversight of a team, keeping them on-track and directing them in their tasks.
Then why is management one of the most failed and hated positions? The answer lies in our desire as managers to lead. Because without leadership, there cannot be management. Only rebellion and hatred. Did you like that person who is always looking over your shoulder and placing red marks on everything you do? Did it cause any stress that made your daily life horrible?
Leadership is management that requires you to connect emotionally with others and agree that we can all work effectively to achieve a shared goal. That said, many individuals may not know their personal goals or their “why”.
Emotional Connectedness has been proven to be vital to leadership. The study we performed for my book, In Great Company found that the highest performing companies focused on competencies such as emotional connection requiring a great amount of self-awareness, respect for others, strong values-orientation, a positive outlook for the future, and an eye toward results. So where do you start? Take the time to learn more about what drives you in your career, your personal values, and some of the goals within your organization. When you develop a better relationship with yourself and others, you will be in a better position to carry others forward with you.
- Engage, Listen, and Connect
There is a misconception that leadership is characterized by individuals who are headstrong and who lead teams with an iron fist, driving them forward in the direction that they need them to go.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a definite time for strength of leadership. My friend, a former Brigadier General Tom Kolditz was very clear about his expectations and values. Everyone knew where he stood. He never allowed bullying of any sort. And, he expected the very best practices and extreme high performance from all of his soldiers – just as he has done in his impressive military career. Great leadership requires strength and passion to stand up for what is right. Leading by example is critical to make this happen. People will not respect you until they believe and know you mean it. Leading and representing the right values and critical success factors with an iron fist is different than leading through intimidation and fear to complete a goal or task.
All of your team members are human beings with their own unique skill sets, behaviors, and goals. Part of being a leader means reaching out to these individuals, engaging with them, listening to what they have to say and implementing it into the way you work, and building a relationship with them that encourages them to actively work with you. Research has proven that leaders who listen are rated as more effective than their talkative counterparts. When you are more receptive, you will be surprised by how much your interactions change for the better.
- Accomplish More Together Than We Do Alone
As the wise and inspiring Helen Keller once said, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much!” A workplace should be formed around a culture of collaboration. When you and your team have the same goals, the proper systems in place, and are able to effectively produce work that resonates with everyone in the team, you have created a space in which all will thrive. When you try to strong-arm results or take on the bulk of the work alone, you create an ineffective and resentful workplace setting. As you can see in my book, In Great Company, companies such as ING Group have grown by focusing on, “collaboration where team-based decision-making, cocreation, and balanced conversation become the hall-mark of successful working relationships.” Empower your employees with the voice and the space they need and you will see better results every time.
- Develop a Vision That Carries Us All to Succeed
Leaders can’t carry a team forward if they don’t have a specific destination in mind. While relationships are an essential part of great leadership, you must not forget about the management and planning aspects as well. As a leader, you need to be able to properly chart your course and determine what your company needs to do to achieve success in the future (and cut out what may not be working for you in the present). When you have this vision and you can translate it to your team, they have a solid idea of what they are working towards and can collaborate with you more effectively. Functional communication with equal airtime, and a process for getting to possibilities and action are key to leading and building relationships, but you can only communicate your vision if you have developed one.
As you can see from the above, becoming a better leader begins with learning how to cultivate great relationships with ourselves and with those around us. If you want to learn more about becoming an emotionally connected leader and how to implement the tips above, make sure to read my book, In Great Company: How to Spark Peak Performance By Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace, to gain further insight into becoming the leader that you want to be.