How To...Be A Great Leader

Many of us end up in leadership roles and I thought it would be important to discuss how to be a great boss for those who you lead. Leadership can be seen at work, church, Greek Letter Organizations, extra curricular activities, school, and so many other ways. As you read through these steps, I want you to ask yourself if you measure up to being a great boss! These are questions I’ve asked of myself on numerous occasions as I’ve been placed in leadership roles over time. Sometimes the best thing you can do is reflect how you are leading those you’re responsible for.

1. Serve others

            What can you do to serve those who you’re leading? I firmly believe that if you look for ways to serve your team, they will go out of their way to ensure you’re taken care of. People work hard for those who they will have their backs and will take care of them. As you continue in your everyday tasks, begin to find ways to serve someone you’re responsible for. While managing in my workplace, I take every effort possible to ensure that my associates know I am willing and able to help them at any given point.

            If your team wins…you win. If your team fails…you fail. If you’re able to adopt that mindset you will begin to make different management decisions that support the overall team. Even if it takes you stepping into the responsibilities of a lower position to ensure the job is done effectively. You have to do whatever it takes to ensure that your team is successful, including teach and train your team to be successful. After all they absolutely deserve it.

2. Anticipate needs and plan ahead

            Your team needs and deserves to be lead in a proactive manner instead of reacting to the constantly changing world. There is nothing worse than a leader who frantically barks out last minute order because something “urgent” has arisen when it was something they should’ve been prepared for. Be the leader who knows what’s coming down the line and ensure you’re taking the proper steps to prepare your team for the necessary steps.

If planning ahead is not your strength, empower someone on your team to step up in that capacity. It takes a lot of humility to communicate your weaknesses and to give someone you’re responsible for the power to take action. Delegation can be the most useful part of being an effective leader because it puts the right people in the right places, even if that person is not you. Delegation is an important part of planning ahead and ensuring any upcoming needs are met.

3. Find out your teams strengths and weaknesses

It’s so important to know the strengths and weaknesses of both you and your team. The areas that a person is strong in, empower them and give them greater responsibility in that area. If there is an area of weakness for someone on your team, it is your job to ensure they are receiving the necessary training. When your team sees that you’re investing in their development they will begin to strive towards improvement with a greater sense of confidence. Not only that you’ve earned the respect of your team simply by caring about their development and growth.

When I took on a new area of responsibility at my previous job, I immediately began to take assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. Once they got to know me better I sat them down and had one-on-one conversations with them to discuss what they were and came up with a strategy to improve upon them. I saw immediate results because they were given the tools and knowledge to be successful, and their moral turned around because they had a leader who showed care and concern for their individual development. Once they got comfortable with the tasks I’d shown them, I began to give specialized areas of responsibility that highlighted their strengths.

4. Motivate others to be their best

            Know what your team’s limits are and be willing to push them a little further. If you’re clear about your expectations up front, give them the tools and resources to meet those expectations, and give them the space to do so…they will gladly exceed your expectations every time. Your team wants to give you their very best and if you’ve given them the encouragement and positive reinforcement they deserve, they’ll perform beyond your expectations. You will begin to see them in their best form.

            A lot of times leaders spend more time criticizing a person’s failures then acknowledging their successes. We adopt the mindset that adults don’t deserve compliments for doing their job, but we’re quick to give them a long list of what they’ve done wrong. Validation by lack of punishment is not genuine validation, positive affirmation is. If someone deserves a compliment…give them one!

5. Take one for the team

            There comes a time when you may have to step up and take responsibilities for the errors of someone on your team. I believe in accountability, but it should be done in a private manner because your team is a reflection of you! It does you no good to place the blame onto someone you’re responsible for, and it only causes a deflation in their overall moral. Ultimately, if someone one your team has failed then you have failed as their leader and that’s all that matters.

            Deflecting the blame and failing to take responsibility are signs of immaturity and possibly a sign that you’re not ready for the leadership position you’ve taken on. The good news is that even if that’s your reality, if you follow these steps you’ll be off to a great start when it comes to being a great leader. It is important that if you’re taking the responsibility for the failure or mistake of someone on your team, they’re trained and held accountable in a private manner. If this issue has never been discussed, try giving them the benefit of the doubt before chastising them.

*Bonus* Be solution driven

            As different problems arise in the day to day, look for the solutions just as quickly as you identify problems. There is nothing more frustrating than someone in a leadership position who can only complain about problems that exist. Being solution driven will allow you to focus on getting the job done instead of being distracted by what is wrong. Avoid spending more time on the problems than you spend focusing on how to fix the issue and creating plans to avoid problems moving forward.