1. Ask to be judged
Finding out what others think of your leadership skills can help you change for the better. Sometimes leaders can be so wrapped up in appraising others, that they do not seek an appraisal from below, only from their superiors. Your team is the best source of feedback because they are on the receiving end of your “skills” every day. Honesty should be encouraged but bear in mind that it may only be anonymous feedback that holds the truth if your team believes you are going to use it against them or become defensive about what they say. If you have created a trusting and open environment, this should not be a problem.
2. Don’t abuse your power
If people are questioning why certain things are done, or the logic of decisions, never pull rank in response. Your team should feel empowered, if only by you taking the time to explain the rationale for any decisions that have been made. Your team must be on your side. This will not happen by you tell them that the decision is the right one because you are the boss. Your team may not agree, but they should know why the situation is like that.
3. Your team is intelligent and can be trusted
Your team should be allowed to take action and make decisions. Trust is a vital component of leadership skills. If you can’t trust people to do their jobs, then you have the wrong people, or you’re not managing them properly. Let them do what they are there to do without peering over their shoulders every fifteen minutes, asking what they are doing with their time.
Truly listening to your team is one of the greatest leadership skills. Good listeners come across as genuinely interested, empathetic, and concerned to find out what’s going on. All great leaders have great communication skills. Unhappy team members can only exist where their problems have not been aired. Create an environment where problems can be discussed so that solutions can be found.
5. Stop being an expert on everything
Leaders often achieve their positions by being proficient in a certain area and thus will have an opinion on how to fix problems. They believe it’s better to tell someone what to do, or even to do it themselves than allow their team to develop their solutions and therefore exercise their creativity.
6. Be constructive
Negativity breeds negativity. How you communicate has a profound effect on your team, as a whole and individually. Criticisms will always need to be made by leaders, but try to make them constructive and deliver them without emotional attachment.
7. Judge your success by your team.
The true success of a leader can be measured by the success of the people who work for them. You cannot be a successful leader of a failing team, just as you cannot be a successful general of a defeated army. Your focus should always be on building your team’s skills and removing obstacles in their way.
8. Don’t be a narcissist
Nothing is more annoying for team members than leaders who make their decisions based on how good they will make them appear to their superiors. A key leadership skill is an integrity. Integrity is about doing the right thing and allowing praise where praise is due, even if that is not at your door.
9. Have a sense of humor
People work better when they are enjoying themselves. The work itself may be dull, but the environment does not have to be. Stifling fun also means stifling creativity. Team members love it when the leader joins in and has fun. This does not have to create a flippant atmosphere; on the contrary, this is a tenet of team-building.
10. Don’t be too distant
Without revealing their innermost secrets, leaders can show a more human side. If mutual respect exists, this should not be seen as vulnerability, but rather a sign that you are a sentient human being, just as your team members are. Only when your team gets to know the real you will the true foundations of good leadership be properly established – trust and respect.