The Difference a Leader Can Make
Effective leaders make things happen through other people, but they do it in a way that instills confidence not fear, pride not humiliation, and a sense of worth. I have compiled a list of a few things effective leaders do to achieve results
Leaders instill confidence in their teams. One of the primary responsibilities of a leader is to instill confidence. In his book “The Eighth Habit” Stephen Covey defined leadership as: “Communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.” Leaders know that people can achieve much more when they realize their potential and have confidence in themselves. It is the leaders’ job to help their people realize the potential they have and the value they can deliver. No wonder many leaders see themselves as cheerleaders.
Leaders have the courage to challenge existing processes. All too often people see existing processes and procedures as constraints. Many projects have been abandoned because the project team felt they were limited by processes and regulations that limited their ability to reach a goal. Effective leaders are willing to challenge the processes if and when they feel the processes are not appropriate or have become outdated. A leader can embolden a team simply by having the courage to challenge these limiting processes.
Leaders take the time to educate and empower their team. There is nothing that discourages a team faster than to be given a goal but not be given the authority or the knowledge needed to overcome the obstacles standing between them and the attainment of the goal. Ineffective leaders are more concerned about retaining control than they are in achieving results. They are afraid to give their people too much power or too much information for fear that they will lose control of the project. Effective leaders empower their teams and then get out of the way.
Leaders provide the tools their people need to be successful. The good leaders see their job as removing obstacles that prevent their people from reaching goals. They see themselves as serving their people by making sure that they have the resources necessary to reach the goals that have been set for them.
Leaders take the time to listen to their people. Effective leaders listen to their people before acting as opposed to ordering them to take on responsibility for something they don’t believe in. By simply taking the time to listen to their people, leaders automatically communicate to them that they think their ideas are valuable. By incorporating their ideas into the plan/vision, the leader solidifies belief in the value of their people, and encourages them to take another step in the direction of achieving their goals.
Leaders motivate their people by recognizing them for their contributions. Exceptional leaders take the time to ensure that they are recognizing the right people for the right reasons. They understand that their people will work harder and will be more dedicated if they feel that their efforts are appreciated and others are made aware of their contributions. Strong leaders also understand that recognizing the wrong people for the wrong reasons can be very demoralizing for a team. When people see others who are undeserving receive recognition, they become demoralized and no longer trust that their leader knows what is going on.
Leaders keep their team focused on their goal despite setbacks. Setbacks and detours are inevitable in the achievement of any goal. These setbacks can demoralize an organization and result in the loss of momentum. Effective leaders are good at helping their team learn from the setbacks, get back on track, and regain momentum.