Hi I’m Dre, your mindset coach and mentor change. Today we are going to focus on 8 ways for you to develop your leadership skills. Some of the techniques will focus on internal characteristics, while others will focus on external processes. My goal is to help you change your life and advance in your professional aspirations.
Most professionals want to change something about their life, but they are discouraged by the fears and self-doubt their false beliefs create. I created a process to help you accomplish your goals and be confident in your ability to become the champion of your life.
- Help them accomplish their goal
- Speak with clarity and honesty
- Be a good follower
- Adopt a growth mindset
- Ask questions
- Be a problem solver
- Increase your awareness
- Communicate effectively
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Becoming an effective Leader
1. Help them accomplish their goals
The key to becoming an effective leader is to get the right people to follow you through a brick wall. In order foster that kind of trust with your followers, you must build meaningful relationships.
Whenever you are at a network event and engaging with others, the first thing you want to ask yourself is – how can I help them accomplish their goals?
You’ll find that being a great leader has a lot to do with helping other people accomplish their goals. Now, I’m not 100% sure who the saying is with, but they often say the amount of influence you have in the world is directly tied to the amount of value you are able to create for others.
So when it comes to being an effective leader, you have to give value to others first. Let me ask you a quick question.
You are most likely going to list your best friend, spouse, parent, or sibling. And the reason is simple. They have spent the most time creating value in your life. You trust them and believe they would not purposely put you in a bad situation.
That is why it is important for you to focus on serving others and helping them accomplish their goals.
2. Speak with clarity and honesty
I frequently find that whenever people have difficulties speaking clearly, they are dealing with the fear of vulnerability and the fear of uncertainty. You have no idea how people are going to react, so it makes it difficult for you to open yourself up.
It is one of those weird things where most people spend a lot of their time wanting to be accepted for who they are, while at the same time, dealing with the fear of being honest and transparent.
The good news is being a leader does not mean that you have to have all the answers. It does not even mean you have to be right all the time. It really just means that you are going to be the person who provides the direction.
Naturally, you do not want to describe being a leader as herding cats or sheep, but you get the idea. There are a lot of great ideas from a lot of talented people, but your goal is to makes sure you accomplish “the objective”.
In life, you can accomplish two or three life goals, but if you waste your time with a bunch of little goals, you will never be able to accomplish your life goals.
Within your organization’s goals, you will only be able to accomplish one or two key objectives each year. That is why it is vital for you to speak with clarity and honesty. If you are too vague, your people will misinterpret your vision and your overall growth will be stifled.
Clarity is your friend
I remember sitting with someone who saw goals as a negative thing. I told him there is nothing inherently wrong with goals. Even though he believed goals created depression and resentment, those are really traits of unrealistic goals. Because what is a goal in the first place? A goal is nothing more than a destination, your end-point.
As a result, if you do not have a destination, you will find it difficult to know whether you are on track or not.
If you do not have a goal, then you are not going to understand how off you are until you are significantly off course. Goals allow you recognize small variations and directional shifts before they become catastrophic losses.
3. Be a good follower
We slightly touched on the idea a little earlier, but we are going to go a little deeper here. You do not want to create an environment where you must always be right. Nor do you want the only ideas to be acted upon to be solely yours.
You are not perfect, and being a leader does not require you to be so. You need to foster an environment of collaboration by leading by example. Encourage others to share their thoughts.
Your team is going to adopt your style of leadership, so make sure you are creating an example that makes your job easier.
It is like when you were a kid and your parents were always watching to see with whom you associated. They knew that the people you associated with had a direct impact on your attitude and perception.
Do not be the type of leader that never admits when they are wrong and rarely see value in the opinions of others.
Telling people to do as you say and not as you do will lead to resentment, tension, and a lack of trust within your team.
Share the wealth
By you being a good follower, you are enabling your team to take leadership roles. That is the difficulty most leaders face when it comes to allowing their followers to lead. They have a fear of losing control and a fear of inadequacy. Some leaders genuinely believe they are always supposed to be the smartest person in the room.
However, if you do not empower your followers to lead, you become the bottleneck. Imagine having 10, 20, 30, 50, or even 100 people who need your sign off before any action can be taken. How much time do you have to devote to each task?
You already have your own deliverables, so you cannot spend every day sitting through meetings.
If you are going to accomplish your organizational goals, you have to train and empower your team to get things done.
4. Adopt a growth mindset
The word growth today is being used in all the wrong ways, so before we get started, let’s make sure we are on the same page. I am not taking about some magical mindset that will help you make millions over night.
Nor am I saying that you will magically achieve all of your goals overnight.
A growth mindset is the understanding that I have the ability to grow and foster whatever skills I need to accomplish my goals.
Those who are selling you the world in a bottle are speaking to a side of you that we all have. The side that wants it fast, wants it quick, and wants it now.
The problem with listening to that side of ourselves, is we open ourselves up to being taken advantage of.
I recall being in college and looking for a job that paid a lot of money. The ad I saw in the magazine promised I could make $1,000 per week if I simply mailed envelopes.
All I had to do was send then $45 for my processing (or something like that), and then I was on my way (or so I thought). What happened is what you expected to happen. I sent them the money and they sent me some information that had a lot of fine-print.
Needless to say, I never made any money from that company. You often find that if you believe there is a quick way to “make your dreams come true” overnight, then you have to open yourself up to being taken advantage of.
The hard truth
Oftentimes, the people who are honest are not telling us what we want to hear. They are telling you this is going to take time and it is not going to be easy.
I know, it does not sound sexy, but it does sound clear and honest (see what I did there?).
Anytime I see a video or someone is sitting in front of a Lamborghini, I immediately click Skip, because I know that they are speaking to a side of me that I do not want listening.
And that’s just me.
If you are like, ‘Dre, I just made a video in front of a Lamborghini because I want people to understand that I am being truthful about my results’. I want to let you know that I understand and can appreciate your decision. However, I also want you to understand that there are a lot of people who are doing that same thing, and they are not doing it for the right reason.
I say all that to say, building a growth mindset can help you foster, build, grow, and learn whatever you need to accomplish your goals. A fixed mindset is the idea that you are either born with it or you are not.
A growth mindset is not easy, quick, or guaranteeing results. It is a continuous, consistent, and demanding process to get from where you are to where you want to be.
As a leader, you have to be devoted to continuous improvement and growth.
Those who fear a growth mindset are worried about a fear of failure and a fear of change. They are not sure whether they will be successful, and they are not sure how much change their results will require.
5. Ask questions
Asking questions is a must of any leader. I love asking questions because it shows I am interested and engaged in what you are talking about.
As I started coaching professionals and executives to accomplish their goals, I found that my love of questions really helps move the conversation.
Whenever you find yourself unable to ask questions, you are usually focusing more on your response than you are on what is being said.
We naturally want to make sure there is never a moment of awkward silence. Yet, I have found that silence is a powerful tool when used properly.
Silence is where the magic happens. It is when we allow ourselves to really think that we enable the ability to tap into our growth and innovation.
When people are nervous about asking questions, they are usually grappling with the fear of vulnerability. Think back to when you were in school. Only a couple people were willing to raise their hands and answer the question. It was not that no one knew the answer, as you probably knew a few of them yourself.
Everyone feared the possibility of being wrong and they decided to play it safe and say nothing.
When you talk about being an effective leader, you cannot allow the fear of looking foolish to keep you from asking the pertinent questions. In many ways, the questions you ask is how you keep your team on track and hold them accountable.
If you are only listening, and never offering any direction or feedback, your team is going to believe you are in agreement. This leads up back to the need for you to be clear and honest in your interactions with your team.
6. Be a problem solver
As a leader you want to be an agent of change. Problem solvers focus on the achieving the results and they do not worry about things like blame and credit.
Whenever an organization or team is only concerned about covering their own interests, it breeds distrust. Without trust, innovation will slow because people are not interested in creating solutions.
As a leader, you have the ability to create a culture of change agents. You can do this by not rewarding individuals who focus on blaming others. You may also be interested giving your moments of praise to a team member.
This brings us back to helping you helping your team accomplish their goals. They probably have a desire to be promoted, receive recognition, or feel appreciated. By you taking a moment to give your spotlight to someone on your team, you have encouraged a culture of problem solvers and increased your credibility simultaneously.
7. Increase your awareness
Awareness is all about observing and learning. Villanova provided a study which spoke on the need for leaders to have awareness.
It is important for you to understand the emotions, ambitions, challenges, and goals of the people on your team. This will enable you to be proactive in your assessments and recommendations.
As a result, you can address issues while they are in the early stages. Whether the problems you are solving are related to people or processes, you will be prepared.
Awareness can help you maintain strong followers before they leave by curbing burnout and overwhelm.
Another benefit of awareness is the ability to use persuasion techniques so you can hear more yeses. Persuasion is largely about being present in the moment and noticing the little things.
Whether that is reading their body language or their word selection in conversations, you can use this information to cater an effective response.
For example, you will know someone is an audio learner if they use phrases like: “I hear what you are saying”. You will know if they are visual learner if they say: “I can see what you mean”. You can even tell if someone is kinesthetic when they use phrases such as; “I feel we should go this direction”.
With this information, you can respond in a manner they will absorb. The mistake most people make is they are focused on how they are going to respond to the information presented. By allowing yourself to stay “in the moment”, you will become a more effective leader and get better results.
That leads us nicely into the last technique you can use to develop your leadership skills.
8. Communicate effectively
Communication is about what you are attempting to say and how people are receiving your message. Of course, we cannot forget things like ton, setting, and body languages as these all play a role in how your communication will be received.
As a leader, you have tons of personalities, interests, excitement levels, and experience levels on your team. You have to understand a way to communicate that makes sense and motivates each of them.
You are going to have employees who love stories and making small talk before getting down to business. On the other-hand, you are going to have employees who only need the bare minimal facts, leaving out all the fluff.
You have to understand your people and communicate with them in that exact manner. It is like the scripture, treat others how you want to be treated.
Treat others as you want to be treated
I believe we often get this wrong by assuming this means, I enjoy short, concise information so I should speak to others in that manner.
In actuality, we are not talking about the literal way you want to be treated. We are talking about the fact that everyone wants to be treated the way they want to be treated (mind-blowing… I know).
What this means is you should talk to the story person with a story, and they should talk to you in a short and concise manner.
As the leader, you want to make sure you are taking your team members thoughts and preferences into consideration. This does not mean you can always make everyone happy, but it does mean you understand what would make them happy.
You can do this by repeating back to them what they are saying as you understand it. This allows them to clarify and information and for you to ask any additional questions that you may have.
Once you understand what it is they are communicating to you, take a moment and tell them thank you. If you want to be an effective leader, you really have to make sure that people understand you care about their input and value the work that they do.
Thank you is a phrase that never gets old, so do not be afraid to use it.
When leaders and teams are facing difficulty communicating, it is usually the result of a fear of inadequacy. People do not enjoy admitting they may not understand something that everyone else seems to understand.
I say “seems” because someone else probably has the same question you have and they are equally uncomfortable asking for clarification.
Remember that effective communication is driven by your desire to help others. If you genuinely care about what is going on in your teams life, then your message will be received well.
Your ability to grow your leadership skills is a life-long process. It is not something that you can ever sit back and say, I have arrived. Each generation, each hire, and each company culture will require you to reevaluate and discover ways to tweak your leadership skills. Do not allow the fears and self-doubt created by your false beliefs to keep you from changing your life.