How to be a good leader
“He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.”
How to be a good leader?
First, why don’t we talk about how not to be a good leader?
To help you, let me give you an example. One day, the boss’s son entered our office and began to act as if he was the real boss.
He started to yell, abused his power but nobody really followed him.
There is a leadership proverb that maintains “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.” Honestly speaking, the son can’t fool anyone: no one considers him a real leader.
Just like the boss’s son, we sometimes mix behavioral leadership with positional leadership. Holding a position doesn’t naturally make someone a leader. It might be true with certain people in different situations but not always. Titles cannot be linked with leadership. We earn real leadership; it cannot be awarded. True leadership comes when we develop influence, so how to develop more influence? What separates the real leader from the con man? Here are 9 principles to apply to become a natural leader.
“Leadership is behavioral, not positional. The capacity to integrate, motivate, and mobilize others to bring a common aspiration to life is what leadership is all about, not holding positions of formal authority.” Nelson Mandela
Be authentic and manage by example
Successful people and especially a leader must have an arsenal of tools to increase his influence. Yet, the most important one remains his character. A leader develops authenticity and integrity. Great leaders know themselves based on their values, their beliefs, their convictions. We all know a boss who plays the “do what I say not what I do” game. Their collaborators don’t trust them. We expect great leaders to manage and lead by example. The leader in this sense does far more than everyone, not the contrary.
Be humble and communicate
Always praise in public and “criticize” in private. As a leader, you lead a team and want everyone to contribute as best as they can. Some bosses give orders and criticize openly as if it would motivate their employees. Their leadership styles are more based on fear than on consent. But then again it’s better to lead with people’s heart. For this, bring out the best in everyone, express your gratitude for their contribution and thank your team, frequently.
The best way is to start communicating and be humble
Always share with your team your vision, what you are trying to achieve with them. Communicate as often as possible your motto, your slogan. Set your goals and share them with your team. Good communication and great public speaking skills allow you to be better manage and solve conflicts. Ensure that the team understands the objectives so that everyone is moving in the same direction.
Be a good listener and involve others
In his book, Daniel Goleman explains why emotional intelligence can matter more than IQ. There are many components of emotional intelligence such as self-regulation and empathy. Empathy means that you are really trying to put yourself into someone else’s shoes. When there is a problem, do not hesitate to ask questions and really listen. Listening without judging strengthens even more your relationship because the team feels understood.
How to be a good leader: think like a human cell
As leaders, when we speak, let’s use the word “we” instead of “I”. It’s better to create an inclusive environment, make others feel part of the team. Everyone wants to feel important. A cell accomplishes its mission but also helps its ecosystem to accomplish their missions. Speak in the plural and you will strengthen your bond with everyone.
Kill your ego and seek feedback
“I am the best leader ever and people will naturally follow me” says the ego. Nobody is perfect and there is always something to improve. A huge ego highlights more of a weakness than strength. An effective leader stays humble enough and shows courage when she asks for a feedback. Don’t be afraid of constructive feedbacks. People might be more comfortable sharing what they think anonymously in writing so encourage them to do so. This is even truer in some countries like Japan, South Korea and here in Madagascar.
Our team will trust us more when they see our own vulnerabilities, when they understand that we’re all humans after all.
Understand each other’s goals and reward your team
Some members of your team are motivated by extrinsic or intrinsic motivation. If people desire attention and public rewards, reward them accordingly. Depending on our personality, we might want money, visibility, significance. Some want to grow, to learn more or to boost their CV. For the latter, we can entrust them with more missions or offer a specific training to help them.
There are many ways to reward good work and the achievement of important milestones. We can even celebrate the smallest successes. Understand that rewards depend on people’s intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. By the same token, avoid blaming when they make mistakes, instead, highlight the positive things or use the “sandwich method” (positive note + suggestion for improvement + positive note).
How to be a good leader: Delegate
We only have 24 hours and you won’t be able to do everything on your own. A small leader micro-manages everything and thinks he himself can do great work. Good leaders create more leaders. They enable their teams to develop autonomy.
But trust comes prior to delegation. It is the most important element in human relationship. When you delegate, you trust your colleagues. A leader who can’t delegate will never achieve anything great. You need to create that trust and give all the autonomy to your collaborators. As you give them more autonomy, you allow the members to be responsible and accountable. It also helps in their confidence and their leadership.
Being a good leader is a lifelong learning
Growth should be among a leader’s top values. Learning doesn’t only happen in class, it’s everywhere. Being a leader is a process. A leader develops her talents day by day, every day. It starts with a long-term vision and that vision must be emulated in one’s daily actions. Be in love with learning and make the process your life-long partner. John Kennedy F. said: “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”