Some people are natural-born leaders. Their teams love working with them. They model behaviors that support and build trust, interdependence and cooperation, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and success (TIGERS®) in their leadership behavior and in the workplace. They demonstrate performance-based leadership skills, build winning teams and understand how to recognize and celebrate team success. What organization would not compete heavily to secure these talented leaders for their workplace?
For many new supervisors and young leaders, however, leadership skills require training and development. This demands effort. New skills are learned and then practiced, including developing a clear understanding of personal values, strengths and vision of who they want to be as leaders.
Effective leaders first understand that leadership starts with them — from within. This means there is a willingness to improve themselves and their skills before coaching and developing their team member’s skills and attitudes. It is one thing to expect people to perform because you are the leader and say so. It is another to be able to help an employee improve a communication skill because you have done the hard work, too. Perhaps transforming poor leadership behavior such as not listening into an empathetic strength that helps you resolve procedural conflict and perform effective negotiations gives you the understanding and credibility to help others grow, too.
The following are leadership and team building strategies to designed to strengthen your leadership skills:
Focus on your skills and set goals
Effective leaders, no matter their age, understand that effective leadership starts with themselves. So even if you are young and just starting in your career, take the time to find opportunities to improve your skills whether your employer provides them or not. For example, the TIGERS 6 Principles self-study course and leadership discussion group helps you identify behaviors that build strong teams and behaviors that cause predictable problems. Taking this course helps you identify key areas for personal growth while giving you actionable strategies for improving your peer to peer and leadership performance success. Additional ways to build on this strategy are to volunteer in nonprofit or social organizations, such as a church, neighborhood association, internship or chamber of commerce, to practice the skills you are learning. These types of activities, no matter if they are in a related field or not, give young professionals the opportunity to lead, hone their skills and build on their strengths.
When you become a supervisor, it’s important to understand the people you are supervising as individuals with their own strengths and desires to succeed. By developing interdependence, rather than molding people into fit into narrow roles, discover the strengths your people have and leverage them to expand roles. Work with employees to improve on their weaknesses though training and development, and tailor their positions to best meet their strengths. By doing so, you will likely find that your employees are more productive and present more strengths that you might not have seen in their previous role. Rather than managing a name on an organizational chart, focus on developing individuals for their optimum success.
Become conscious and mindful
Effective leaders present themselves as being collected and centered rather than scrambling from one activity to the next. For example, before each new encounter take one mindful breath before stepping into the room. Before leading a meeting, have every participant take a deep breath and become present, too. When you are present and focused you understand issues more clearly and make better decisions. Decisions are made from a position of strength rather than stress.
Taking a mindful breath reduces stress. To take a mindful breath, stop walking, close your eyes and slowly breathe in and out, while focusing only on your breath. By doing so three times, the vagus nerve is stimulated, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system. In turn, your blood pressure and heart rate will reduce, and you will feel calmer and less stressed. This allows you to focus only on the present, rather than regrets of the past and fears of the future, so you will then be better equipped to focus on your next task.
Develop Trust by walking the talk
Leadership is at some level talking the talk, but it’s more important that leaders walk the talk. If what you say is not what you do, then trust and credibility is damaged. It’s also important to note that leadership is not a solo endeavor. Without people to lead, a leader can’t truly be a leader. So to effectively lead, develop loyal followers through trust and trustworthy behavior that comes about through understanding your core motivations and the motivations of others.
Be gracious in defeat
Sometimes in business, things don’t go your way, and you “lose.” The key to effective leadership is being gracious when you do lose. One way is to claim the loss when it happens. Then view the loss as a valuable lesson. Eventually you can tell stories about it and help others learn from your experience, too. It’s in times of strife that your true character comes through. So when your team doesn’t meet a deadline or you lose money in a negotiation, effective leaders turn failure into learning experiences. Focus on the good that comes from failure and create strategies so that failure doesn’t repeat itself.
Effective leaders understand that true leadership requires hard work, and they take the time to improve their skills to better serve others. Some strategic tips include obtaining the training you need whether your employer provides it or not, focus on skill development, build relationships, practice mindfulness, be trustworthy and being gracious in defeat.
Here are some additional resources to expand this conversation further:
- How to Become a Successful Young Leader at Work
- Why We Need To Stop Managing People Like Widgets
- This 6-Second Intervention Will Make You a Much More Effective Leader
- Why Leadership Hinges Upon What You Do — Not Who You Are
- Leadership Requires Being Gracious in Defeat
- TIGERS 6 Principles Leadership Training
Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton
About TIGERS® Success Series, Inc.
TIGERS® Success Series is a Bend, Oregon Leadership and Team Improvement Consultant that helps committed leaders build more cooperation among employees and collaboration between departments for improved growth, revenue, purpose and impact.
We do this by deploying the TIGERS team process that improves workforce behaviors that are anchored by trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and success. Providing diagnostics and customized team interventions, you can improve both work culture and transform your adequate teams into exceptional ones.
We also license and train HRD Executives, Project Managers, Managers, Trainers and Team Consultants in the use of our award winning resources. For more information, call 1+ 541-385-7465.