Our workplaces lack leaders who stand among us, leaders who drive us to grow and bring out the real us, leaders who make us feel accomplished, and leaders we can trust. Instead, our workplaces are filled with authoritarian bullies who not only try to prove their fake worth but also kill the productivity of the entities they run.
Leadership is a fine art that cannot be learnt only by securing high academic grades. It can also not be learnt by using force and showing off. Some have this quality inherent in them, some consciously learn leadership skills and become leaders, and most are nonchalant and never want to become leaders.
But leadership qualities are simple human qualities; one must look around and within oneself to understand them. They include the ability to communicate effectively and being approachable and reachable. A leader is not isolated where people have to jump over obstacles to reach them. As leaders, we may make an effort to be approachable, friendly, and accessible and appear to be genuinely interested in the needs of others.
Listening to others is not a herculean task. Being able to listen is perhaps the most valuable skill that a leader can have. This skill allows us to show empathy and has been crucial for all ages. Leaders who listen to others are perceived as trustworthy and appreciated, resulting in increased motivation, engagement, and productivity.
It is possible to foster empathy and trust in the workplace by practising active listening. Effective listening begins with recognizing the emotions of others. Listening helps us understand the day-to-day reality of our people and create a healthy environment for open communication. Asking questions will help a leader reflect on their coworkers’ actions and thoughts.
If someone evokes fear in the minds of others, they are maybe something else but not a leader.
A true leader is authentic. They do not jump to conclusions when presented with a problem. Instead, they take their time to consider all options, speak to multiple people to gain clarity, and decide based on that information. Authentic leaders are also transparent. They seek feedback as a way to improve. It is essential to be authentic.
Developing an authentic leadership style starts with understanding oneself. We will fail in new situations if we are not authentic leaders. Authentic leaders are open to learning and willing to grow themselves. This is what makes them successful. It is essential to be genuine, and then the followers will follow.
A good leader never avoids responsibility and does not allow others to avoid it. A leader is always prepared to take responsibility and learn from past failures. They avoid repeating the same mistakes. A poor leader will first blame others for their failures. It is tempting to blame others, but it can be counterproductive and harmful. Blaming others for their shortcomings also prevents people from acting.
True leaders believe in empowering and teaching others the art of feeling empowered. Empowering others is all about confidence in oneself and his/her capabilities. It is not about empowering oneself to be in charge but about being confident enough to do the right thing through their teammates.
The leader will be more productive and achieve his/her goals quicker if s/he is confident and empower others. Learning how to utilize diverse resources is part of empowerment. Empowering others will help one become a more effective leader and make his/her leadership style less intimidating.
Decision-making is one of the most important skills of a leader. Leaders have the power to decide, but the consequences of bad choices can be enormous – they disrupt the team, cause missed opportunities, and stress others. Good decisions require foresight, sensitivity to all stakeholders, and the commitment to constantly review the decision and the repercussions on everyone else.
A leader is a visionary, a futurist. Visions are crucial in guiding our teams and keeping them motivated. Without a vision, our team will feel demotivated and lose focus, and we will be left wondering. Admired leaders demonstrate long-term thinking and inspire their colleagues to reach greatness. They live up to their visions and inspire the team by living up to their dreams.
Good leaders brand themselves. It is essential to know your unique style and self-image as an individual. A leader’s authentic style expresses his or her true nature and best work. We should not try to emulate someone else’s style; instead, we may embrace the qualities that make us unique and effective.
Spotting a poor leader is not difficult; they are all around us.
Poor leaders do not accept suggestions well and view them as an attack on their integrity. They want to be surrounded by ‘yes-men’ and do not value the feedback of others. Bad leaders are often selfish and egoistic. They make decisions only in their interest and like to take credit when things go well. They are not accountable for their decisions as managers and can be prone to blame others and misrepresent the facts when they go wrong.
Developing leadership skills starts by embracing ourselves. It is not an overnight achievement but a journey, and one has to be mindful about him or herself and how they are impacting the lives and the progress around them.
Leadership skills do not only help at the organizational level; they help in every sphere of life – at the family level, interacting with friends and customers, and at a level where we help our society progress. Our society needs good leaders.
This piece first appeared in Jhenidah Ex-Cadets Association – North America magazine.