This morning, I watched kids play a simple game of connect five with wiffle balls. Each had an idea of how the game should be played. There were disagreements, there were stronger voices and (thank goodness) there were compromises.
This got me thinking about leadership. In any business, you can find leaders — individuals who set the direction and outline the purpose of the work. Leaders will assign or distribute work to the team and are there to oversee the work and ensure objectives are met. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with some amazing leaders who inspired and encouraged me. As a result, I worked harder and enjoyed coming in each day.
A good leader will communicate and share the objectives and purpose of each initiative. They’ll be there to answer questions and provide guidance to make sure you’re moving in the right direction. This openness not only builds trust, but it also helps ensure everyone is working towards the same outcome. Constructive feedback promotes learning and helps build skill sets.
Hand-in-hand with good communication comes good listening. There’s a lot to be learned by others on the team. We each have unique experiences and skills to share. A good leader will listen — hear and understand — what team members have to say. They’ll look for opportunities to leverage the team’s input. When a leader demonstrates good listening, individuals feel more valued and appreciated. This will build enthusiasm and lead to a great outcome.
Honesty is a good quality in any situation. Imagine if you were told your work was just what was needed and then weeks later, after feeling pretty good about what you delivered, you found out it was never presented or used. This can be discouraging and deflating. Honesty is key. Letting your team know what’s changed in a project or where adjustments need to be made, will only gain you respect as a leader.
One of the best leadership qualities I’ve seen and appreciated is giving credit where credit is due. It’s not all about you. A good leader will recognize the team and the contributions they made to the project. They might even give the team all the credit! How great would that feel?
There are many types of leaders. Those who dictate and those who like to delegate. There are leaders who coach and democratically decide on the approach together. Take some time to think about the leaders you’ve worked with. When did you feel most engaged and why?
The kids? Well, they eventually agreed on the rules and they proceeded to have a successful game.