Poor leadership is often magnified in TV shows and comic strips, showing inadequate leaders who take all the credit and are driven entirely by power. Though we recognize that these leaders are entirely fictional, we can also recognize some of those characteristics in thousands of bosses around the world.
It’s true that some people are born leaders and others don’t have that natural talent. But it’s false to believe that people can’t develop the habits of highly effective leaders. With a thorough understanding of the six C’s of effective leadership and a little practice, anyone can learn what it takes to be a leader worth trusting.
1. Critical thinking
This skill is defined by an ability to look past the first tidbit of information you receive, verify assumptions and use triangulated research and reasoning to find the best possible solution to a problem.
If it sounds complicated, that’s because it can be very complicated. Critical thinking takes practice, but it’s one of the most important aspects of being a leader. Those who are able to develop this skill can discern between decent ideas and great ideas, delegate tasks to the best participant, set an example for problem solving and achieve the desired outcome.
Everybody can improve their critical thinking skills to some measure. It involves going back to the main goal, gathering evidence, seeking out all possible sources, listening to team insights, pooling resources and getting creative on occasion. Mastering this skill set will get you on your way to effective team building and relationships.
As one of the most important aspects of leadership, sound communication is the difference between an effective leader and a tyrant. You may know exactly what you want to have accomplished in your mind, but you must remind yourself that your team can’t read your mind. Likewise, if you try to explain your vision and your team doesn’t seem to be getting it, the fault does not lie with them but you.
To improve your leadership, work from the beginning to establish healthy lines of communication. Explain what your preferred method of communication is, and then establish an open-door policy in which you let your team know that they can ask for clarification on anything without ridicule.
Collaboration is defined as a business process that requires individuals to work together to achieve a common goal. For team members, this means taking full responsibility for their designated tasks and working effectively with their teammates. For leaders, it means learning how to delegate properly.
As you use effective delegation, you’ll be able to create a close-knit team that’s happy and willing to work together to achieve the end goal. This requires placing significant trust in your team and working closely with each member to create a vision that everyone can agree upon.
The key to successful collaboration is taking stock of your team and their skills. Consider their strengths and capitalize on them to build a team that can work well together and face challenges head on as they come.
The difference between a leader who goes entirely by the textbook and a leader who takes a few creative liberties is the difference between someone who stays stagnant in her position and someone who moves up the corporate ladder. Businesses are run on new and creative ideas that draw in more consumers and set you apart from competitors, and your team can easily be behind some of those creative liberties.
Thinking creatively is largely about considering every possible option and using those that make the most sense. Think outside the box to find actionable solutions when your team might not have the necessary resources to complete a task. Sometimes that means going by the book but other times, it may lead to a change in current business processes that will revolutionize your company.
Leaders can expect their teammates to work hard and produce top notch content if they aren’t willing to work hard themselves. Being a strong leader means leading by example, especially when it comes to committing to the end goal. Team members are incredibly motivated by a leader who spends long hours working alongside exhausted teammates, rather than someone who only does only the bare minimum.
To prove that you’re truly committed to the mission you should lead by example. If you ask your team to work overtime, you better be there too -- working twice as hard. People will respect your dedication, which will create a unified team committed to producing a fantastic end product.
Compassion is one of the most important strengths that will garner respect and encourage your team to seek your counsel. Sometimes life throws a curveball and your employees need you to give them a break and not expect perfection from them. Likewise, when they fail, yelling at them and threatening their job will not help. Treating team members like human beings is what a real leader does.
Now, it’s important to note that there’s a big difference between having compassion and being a pushover. If you project is down to the wire and your team member calls in sick because of a light sniffle or call in sick for three days in a row without a doctor’s note, it’s best to call them out.