Leading by example is one of the easiest traits to convey in life and at work. Essentially I’m telling you to do your job and work hard. Should go without saying right? When it becomes difficult is when I tell you it has to be 100% of the time.
There are different situations to lead in as well as different ways to be an effective leader in all of those situations. This makes being a leader rather easy but it also makes it incredibly difficult. To add to this different people need to lead differently in those situations! Still following me?
I have had a keen interest in the ins and outs of all aspects of leadership for quite some time. I previously wrote about ways to become a manager by age 35. After you have your leadership role, what traits do you possess that will make you an even better leader?
Lead by Example
Leadership by example is one of the easiest traits to convey. Essentially, I’m telling you to do your job well and work hard. That should go without saying right? When it becomes difficult is when I tell you it has to be 100% of the time. If the people that you’re leading see you slacking even one time, because of the work you’re putting in the rest of the days and weeks, they will remember it.
As a leader, I tell everyone who reports to me that one of the best traits they can have is to be coachable. Listen (really listen) to advice and take it to heart. The same goes for a leader of an organization. I don’t know everything. I try to be as knowledgeable as I can in the areas that I need to be, but I do not know everything. Advice is always welcome with me. Whether that advice is actually deployed is up to you as a leader, but in the very least, you need to consider it. Doing this will empower the people reporting to you and strengthen the relationship.
Empowering your employees. Empowering yourself. Empowering your children. I’ll be the first to admit that the word “empowering” is a big buzzword these days. But what does it really mean? The exact definition is to “give someone the authority or power to do something.” I will add to that with giving them the power and authority to make their own decisions. Empowering your employees, for example, means letting them make their own decisions and possibly make their own mistakes. With this method of leadership, most teaching points will be after a decision has been made, but those teaching points are usually remembered and the same mistake is typically not made again.
Communication is a key trait to being a good leader but being transparent is paramount to being a good communicator. Be transparent with your thoughts. Tell a direct report that you’d like to see a little more effort out of them on a day-to-day basis. Be transparent about numbers. Make the people who report to you know what their goals or minimum requirements are. Don’t leave this up to guessing as that will cause more problems in the future. Be transparent about their future. Telling an employee that their numbers aren’t where you feel they should be. This will open up a conversation about how he or she can get there and will allow them to always know where they stand with you.
Have a Team-First Mentality
This is difficult for some, as it can diminish the time you have to do your own job and even, at times, diminish your numbers towards the goals you have for yourself. When I moved into a management role this definitely was a growing pain for me. A good leader will have the “if the team is successful, I’m successful,” mindset at all times. There will be sacrifices that have to be made on your part, but it’s all for the good of the team. This will gain trust from your team and your superiors as well.
As I mentioned, there will need to be sacrifices made on your part to make sure your team is successful. While these sacrifices are made, as a leader, a lot of things will need to change. For example, if you meet with your team individually this might take an entire morning or even an entire day! That’s a lot of time to lose in your day-to-day production. This will require you to be more efficient with everything you do. As someone who is always trying to be more efficient, I will tell you, auditing the things you do fairly often helps immensely. I am always researching new and innovative ways to do things as well as talking to co-workers about how they do the same tasks. Whether a first time or a veteran leader, becoming more efficient is always possible.
Be Level Headed
A lot of leaders attempt to lead with the “iron fist” approach. They come out of their office yelling and screaming to make a point or to tell someone they’re not happy with their work. I will be the first to admit this method works for some people and some teams, but in my opinion, it isn’t the best way to lead. When you look at a situation from all angles you are in a better position to resolve conflict and other issues within the team. Taking a step back and not getting upset immediately will save everyone much energy in the long run. This is one of the best traits to possess as a leader.
There is no right or wrong way to lead a team. As I mentioned, I had some growing pains when I first became a manager and I’m still learning every day. If you do not have one or two of these traits, there is always room to grow and change. Even if you don’t possess any of these traits, it doesn’t mean you’re a terrible leader. Just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Leading is ever changing which is why it is so great in my opinion. You get the opportunity to help someone every single day! Not a lot of people get to say that.
Adam lives in Grimes, IA with his wife Sara, son Asher and daughter Avery. Adam is also a Technical Recruiter for Beacon Hill Staffing and co-founder of Sprout Media. He enjoys networking, connecting like minded individuals, and the Northern Iowa Panthers.