How to Nurture the Effective Leader that Dwells Within You
The expression, “S/he’s a born leader,” has had a lot of traction. We tend to think that leadership abilities are inborn, sort of like eye color - people either have the traits or not. While scientists tell us that certain personality traits are of “nature,” they also tell us that personalities are significantly influenced by “nature.” I happen to be of the opinion that leadership is within each one of us, if we are willing to “nurture” those traits that we see in effective and admired leaders. Leaders motivate, inspire, steer, and coach others, and there are 5 ways to do this.
Nurture Your Communication Skills
Most of us forget that there are two parts to communication, but leaders don’t.
- You have to be an effective speaker and a bit of a salesman. Otherwise, it will be difficult to motivate others. If you know this is an area of challenge, consider taking a public speaking course and/or a salesmanship class.
- Practice listening. How? By ceasing to talk and asking questions of those you lead. Once others get the idea that you will really listen, they will be far more open with you, and you will probably gain insight and information you would not have gotten otherwise. People who know that their leaders listen are happier too! And happiness is a great motivator.
Moods, especially in groups, organization and in the workplace, are contagious. If you are in a leadership role, and you become negative, everyone else will be as well. Negativity spawns less productivity, less happiness, and less motivation. Even when failures occur, you have to remain positive. Re-assure everyone that failures and setbacks are normal and are true learning experiences – you will all move on. (You may be disappointed or upset inwardly, but you don’t show it).
Nurture Commitment and Work Ethic
“When the players are on the field, the coach has to be there too.” Every person in a leadership role should repeat this daily. A real leader is willing to get his “hands dirty” with everyone else, to dig in when deadlines must be met and tasks are piling up. The obvious benefits from this activity will be that your subordinates will admire you, will emulate your work ethic, and will want to work harder because of their admiration for you.
Change is difficult for everyone. But you have to be the one who is willing to embrace it, even when it is not of your making. All others will take their cues about reacting to a change from you. So, spend some time coming up with the benefits of the change and make sure you speak of them to your people. If you are accepting and positive, they will be as well. The net effect is that people maintain their productivity and their willingness to work through the change.
Nurture Honesty and Integrity
You have a set of values and principles which should be uncompromising. Make certain that your colleagues and subordinates understand what they are. Then, when you have to make a decision with which some may not agree, if it is based upon your principles, they will admire you for not compromising. One such principle might be that no one ever discusses confidential information except with those that have the right to it. If an individual violates that principle, then you will have to discipline him/her in some way. Now, that individual may be quite popular with co-workers and a punitive action could be cause for others to be angry with you. If, however, all are aware that this is an uncompromising principle of yours, they will understand and probably secretly admire you for not compromising. Honesty goes without saying. Once you have developed a reputation for honesty, it sticks. Those you lead will always trust what you have to say.