Hi! I'm Milan, an LA based founder and writer, architecting impact-first businesses.
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Do you know the true purpose of leadership? A "leader" can be defined many ways, but the real meaning is often lost in translation. The majority of those in leadership roles falsely believe that their primary purpose is to be “in charge”. Being a good leader, however, is about much more. It’s not just about being in charge, it’s about taking care of the people in our charge. A good leader is the motivational force that navigates a team towards their common goal. Earlier, leaders were philosophers who offered pearls of wisdom and truth. Or they were military leaders who served, organized, and inspired. Leadership styles have significantly evolved over the years with the influence of the political, economic, and social landscape. Modern leaders are strong communicators, decision-makers, and risk-takers. But most importantly, they are empathetic and understanding human beings.
What is Leadership?
Leadership is a socially influential act of gathering and aligning teams to work towards the desired outcome. It’s not about hierarchy, job title, or pay grade, but about your potential to mobilize a team to translate a vision into reality. Before beginning my own entrepreneurial journey in college, I looked up to great business leaders and entrepreneurs for inspiration. Now that I have three growing companies, I know it was never about clout or notoriety for those leaders I admired, but about how they could bring people to work towards a common goal, and genuinely caring about those people along the way. Many people believe that leadership in a workplace involves efficiently delegating tasks to subordinates. But impactful leaders go beyond that. They create a positive impact on their team that flows through the organization with a ripple effect. Team members working under good leaders are happy and draw greater work satisfaction.In my experience, great leadership involves:
- Identifying your motivation, strengths, and weaknesses
- Aligning teams to achieve your goal
- Connecting and inspiring a sense of ownership in every team member
- Offering growth and development opportunities
Maintaining a give-and-take feedback loop while following civil discourse
How to Become a Better Leader?
Most of us are hard pressed to come across quality leaders, but despite the lack of great leadership, it is a skill like any other that can be learned or taught. Good leadership is practicable and learnable, but you have to want it because being a good leader is not easy. When things go right, you have to give away the credit. When things go wrong, you have to take all the responsibility. If you want to be a good leader and have the drive to inspire a team to greatness, keep reading to learn the core traits of strong leadership.
Self-awareness and introspection skills are vital to the role of leadership. The better you know yourself, the stronger decisions you can make as a leader. Self-awareness also makes it easier for you to accept your flaws and leave behind all baggage that stops your team from achieving success.
Leaders need to take accountability for their actions. Your people are obliged to follow what you say when you're the leader. It falls upon you to guide your team members by taking responsibility. Leverage this power by encouraging people in a positive direction and making them enthusiastic about every project and deadline.
Leaders exhibit courage daily by accepting responsibility, voicing their expectations, taking chances on new ideas, and having the team's back in front of superiors. They engage in civil discourse and critical thinking rather than allowing conflicts to grow. When you’re courageous, your employees can count on you to address their concerns.
With integrity and an ethical value system, you prove to be trustworthy for your organization. Your honesty and consistency become a testament to your credibility, and you will find that authentic relationships with your teams form more seamlessly.
You must create trust with both your superiors and your team members as a leader. When higher-ups can trust you, they will give you the space to do your best work. Similarly, your employees perform better when they trust you. Learn to trust people with their jobs and delegate tasks to boost the team spirit. With more trust, you can also exercise better decision-making.
If you work in a position that challenges you, you'll likely face stress, burnout, and periods of low performance. When we experience tough times, empathy can be a powerful antidote and contribute to positive experiences for individuals and teams. Empathy also fosters more empathy. The more you care, the more your team will care; Both about their work and each other.
- Gratitude and Respect
A Glassdoor survey found that 80% of employees say they’d be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss. We all want to know that our hard work is appreciated, and recognition is often the greatest motivator. Leaders who express gratitude in the workplace are likely to see happier and more productive employees. Take the extra two minutes to say thanks, it goes a long way.
- Learning Agility
I’ve never met a great leader who thinks of themselves as an expert, they think of themselves as lifelong students. Leaders who succeed tend to be curious, proactively seek out new knowledge, and take on challenges willingly. They are flexible enough to apply what they learn to unfamiliar situations so they can learn from their mistakes.
- Skillful Communication
Effective leadership is closely tied to transparent communication. Being a leader is all about communicating through various channels and ensuring that everyone in the team has the same interpretation of a message. A leader's communication skills go beyond demographics, social identities, and company hierarchies. Skillful communication is an integral part of building trust between leadership and team members.
Don't confuse influence with manipulation. Some managers try to exploit their employees by making them work extra hours and subjecting them to high stress. True leaders don’t conduct such practices in their workplace. Being a leader means exercising emotional intelligence and building trust with your team. When your influence on your employees is transparent, they’ll be naturally motivated to follow your direction.
While we’re all on our own paths and journeys in life, we look to leaders for guidance and advice. Honing your leadership skills will allow you to make a positive impression on the lives of those around you. Whether you're a CEO, department manager, or a small team leader, we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives everyone a chance to demonstrate leadership qualities and inspire action. Motivation and inspiration can help you to be a strong people manager, but it’s your actions that will ultimately drive the respect and trust needed to be effective