Once in a while you meet a someone who stands out as a leader. They are more than just charismatic or likeable. You can quickly tell, they think and act and lead differently than most people.
However, people don’t become outstanding leaders overnight. Truly outstanding leaders are made. Through training, experience, self-examination and practice, they learn to nurture, motivate, and inspire.
They learn to truly lead.
Over time, those skills become automatic and reflexive. While great leaders do a tremendous amount of thinking, that thinking happens behind the scenes. In the moment, in the trenches, when people look to them and need them most, they act: swiftly, decisively, and confidently.
Want to become a truly outstanding leader? Work hard to do these seven things well:
1) Build a great team
Leaders must be rigorous in the selection process for getting new people “on the bus”, as Jim Collins puts it, in “Good to Great”. Invest time in evaluating each candidate and make systematic use of at least three evaluation tools (e.g., interviews, references, background, testing, etc.).
When in doubt, do not bring that person on the team. Keep the position vacant—taking on extra work as needed—until you have found the right person. Ensure your company does an exceptional job of retaining the right people to perpetuate good hiring decisions.
2) Offer recognition and praise
Offering praise to your employees is all about recognition. Most workers thrive on feeling appreciated. For an employee, knowing that what they are doing means something to their boss and the business, gives a feeling of worth that can motivate them to improve their work.
The happier your employees, the more engaged and productive they will be. Receiving praise is empowering. It doesn’t cost anything to recognize and praise your staff. However, not giving them credit when and where credit is deserved can cost you big time.
3) Improve constantly
Whatever you’re working toward, it’s important to constantly assess, evaluate and appraise where you are and where you want to be. It’s something you do because you want to be a better leader, not only for your own sake but also for the sake of those who are part of your team and work hard to achieve the vision and goals you set. Great leaders make self-improvement a daily practice.
Great leaders know the benefits of working in a variety of departments in the organization. This cross-pollination is a productive development tool, giving organizations a competitive edge. When leaders better understand organizational processes, they can make better decisions. The same applies to staff.
Rather than compartmentalize employees in rigid departments, great leaders mix people from a variety of fields and allow them regular contact. As a result, the employees have a better understanding of the overall operations of the organization. This allows them to apply ideas from as many fields as possible to the problems at hand, just in case something unexpected applies.
Delegation in leadership not only helps get things done, but it also empowers employees by giving them greater autonomy. No leader can do all things at all times, and delegation is a key tool for boosting team and organizational performance and efficiency. A Gallup study found that companies led by CEOs who were strong at delegating achieved a higher overall growth rate compared to companies whose CEOs delegated less.
Great leadership has many components, and delegation is an important factor for maximizing employee contributions and increasing productivity among all members of a team.
6) Share Information
Communication is a core leadership function. Effective communication and effective leadership are closely intertwined. Leaders need to be skilled communicators in countless relationships at the organizational level, in communities and groups, and sometimes on a global scale.
You need to think with clarity, express ideas, and share information with your team. You must learn to handle the rapid flows of information within the organization, and among customers, partners, and other stakeholders and influencers.
7) Create a Vision
“In order to take the organization to the highest possible level, leaders must engage their people with a compelling and tangible vision.” ~Warren Bennis
Leadership vision is essential for focusing attention on what matters most; on becoming the kind of leader you wish to be. An effective vision has to be rooted in your past, address the future, and deal with today’s realities. It represents who you are and what you stand for. It inspires you, and the people whose commitment you need, to act to make constructive change towards a future you all want to see.
A visionary leader who clearly and passionately communicates his or her vision can motivate employees to act with passion and purpose, thereby ensuring that everyone is working toward a common goal. The end result is that everyone contributes to the organization’s forward momentum.