Tuesday, May 17, 2022

How to Be a More Effective Leader

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Travon Marner
Travon Marner
Travon Marner is a seasoned journalist with nearly 12 years under his belt. While studying journalism at Boston, Travon found a passion for finding local stories. As a contributor to Business News Ledger, Travon mostly covers human interest pieces.

Effective leadership consists of behaviors and abilities that many people have trouble defining or putting into words. However, they know a good leader when they see or work for one. Not that first-rate leaders are necessarily that way from day one. It often takes years of learning and practice to get there, even for individuals who display innate leadership qualities.

That said, knowing how to provide more influential guidance to your team members can have a profound impact on their success. After all, ineffective leaders usually find themselves surrounded by dissatisfied and disengaged employees. This can cause the group to lose productivity, fall short of their goals, and stagnate their career growth. No one wants that.

Whether you’re in a front-line supervisory or executive level role, honing effective leadership skills starts with awareness. It helps to recognize the difference between controlling a group’s output and inspiring them to do the work. Awareness also means knowing your strengths and how you can use them to benefit your team. Let’s look at some of the ways you can become more effective as a leader.

1. Give Regular and Timely Feedback

Providing everyone with feedback should seem like a no-brainer, but it’s an area (and skill) that sometimes gets overlooked. When someone’s performing well, you might assume they don’t need much direction or support. Most of your time is spent with those who are struggling or frequently asking questions. However, just because a top performer isn’t reaching out for daily assistance doesn’t mean they don’t want or need feedback.

If the only time employees hear input is during their annual performance reviews, they’re less likely to remain engaged. Leaders do themselves and their teams a disservice by treating feedback as something that must be formal and corrective. In actuality, giving advice and support is a critical part of fostering working relationships and high employee engagement levels.

Feedback methods, such as a weekly or biweekly one-on-one meeting, help managers develop a rapport with each team member. It gives employees a chance to express concerns and state what they hope to accomplish. Leaders can provide timely and informal observational guidance that moves beyond correcting deficiencies. Such meetings offer the chance to recognize good work and map out individual paths for professional development.

2. Develop Emotional Intelligence

Research reveals a clear link between emotional intelligence, or EQ, and performance. Studies show that 90% of top performers have high EQ and that it accounts for 60% of a leader’s job performance. This link exists within front-line supervisory roles and all the way up to CEO positions.

Emotional intelligence encompasses several different skills, such as self-awareness, empathy, and self-regulation. Included in the EQ umbrella of abilities are also motivation and social skills. Developing good self-awareness is about coming to a clear understanding of your strengths and limitations. Having self-awareness also means knowing your beliefs and values, in addition to what motivates you.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their point of view. While listening is part of empathy, it also means making others feel understood and appreciated. Empathy is reacting to what you’ve heard in a way that displays understanding of the other person’s needs. More importantly, an empathetic response demonstrates you’re willing to support the individual in getting those needs met.

Self-regulation involves recognizing and managing your emotions before formulating a response or making a decision. Motivation is about setting goals and inspiring others to do so; it also involves displaying optimism during trying situations. Social skills entail picking up on cues and others’ emotions and responding appropriately. Instead of ignoring potential conflicts, you meet them head-on. Making a conscious effort to cultivate these qualities will make you a more effective leader.

3. Approach Decisions From a Process Perspective

Effective solutions require figuring out the actual problems you need to help solve. Incorrectly framing issues or challenges is like driving without a sense of direction. You know you’re going somewhere, but your efforts might lead you to the wrong place. Using decision-making processes, such as consensus or devil’s advocacy, provides the structure you need for better outcomes.

Under a consensus model, a group of stakeholders works together to define the problem and brainstorm possible solutions. Through guided facilitation, the group works through the problem until everyone can agree on the best course of action.

While the consensus method gives a chance for all contributors to have a voice, it may lead to groupthink. This is why some teams prefer the devil’s advocacy technique, which aims to challenge assumptions and uncover an argument’s weaknesses.

Regardless of the decision-making approach you choose, you want a well-rounded group to contribute to the process. You’ll increase your chances of reaching a creative and viable solution with stakeholders who have different perspectives and tenures.

You should also consider the problem’s scope and priority. Crises that demand swifter responses may require smaller circles and contributors with deep expertise. Non-urgent, widespread problems could involve all impacted stakeholders.

Conclusion

Whether you’ve recently joined the leadership ranks or have moved up to a top managerial role, your learning will continue. Developing effective leadership skills is an incremental process that includes discovering what works and what doesn’t. Focusing on developing your feedback, emotional intelligence, and decision-making abilities can give you a boost along the way.

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