For business executives to succeed today, they need to hone a great number of skills. Tenacity, perseverance, strategy and relationship-building are all necessary for sustained success, regardless of the role or the industry.
Often overlooked in the skill set is leadership. Some will argue that leadership is something innate that cannot be taught. In fact, there are a number of business leadership habits, traits and skills that will make executives, and their organizations, better.
Done well, effective leadership has powerful effects. Employees and colleagues are more apt to follow someone who inspires and in whom they believe. Motivated employees are more productive, driving better results for the organization.
Leaders know when to take risks, step outside of the box to forge a new path forward. They create a vision that others will follow.
Here are some of the ways that business leadership creates transformation.
Leaders give employees authority to make their own decisions. People learn to become effective decision-makers when they have the chance to practice. Leaders provide a safety net and allow employees to make mistakes and learn from them. Leaders expect accountability for actions taken but recognize that perfection is an impossible goal.
Reward good work
Effective leaders know that recognition goes a long way. Recognition and acknowledgment do not need to be extravagant – a handwritten note or a mention in a staff meeting can mean a great deal. Other employees will appreciate if a successful coworker gains deserved props.
It may seem obvious, but many leaders neglect to show the appropriate respect of colleagues and subordinates. Treating people with dignity consistently shows that leaders understand the associated emotional impact of success, and of failure. We are all people.
Active listening is an acquired skill. It means being engaged with the speaker and repeating back a summary of what was said to ensure you understand. It means giving full attention to a colleague, not being distracted by smartphones or phone calls. When a leader is all-in with listening, employees take notice and usually begin emulating that same behavior.
Leaders need to provide consistent, fair and honest feedback. Employees want and deserve the truth. Avoiding the truth or sugar-coating it with faint praise, does nothing to resolve what isn’t working or to help the employee improve. With proper feedback, leaders earn respect and foster better employees.
Leadership skills are acquired. While some may come naturally, there is still the need to hone learned skills by using them in real-life situations. There is a need for trial and error to learn the best approaches to these skills. As a leader, it may be prudent to share with your staff what skills you are looking to improve. You can even ask for feedback on your use of new skills. No one learns to hit a baseball without a few swings and misses. Leadership is the same way.