- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
It takes a good leader to keep a business running smoothly, but it’s often hard to stand back and evaluate what kind of a leader you are. You may think you are approachable, cool and stress-free, only to learn that your employees are nervous to start a conversation with you!
There are many different leadership styles that exist and work within their respective environments. For example, a leader in the Airforce or the Emergency Services is going to be quite different to a leader in the creative industries. Whilst you should always lead in line with your values, it needs to be a style that your employees are willing to adapt to.
Keep in mind that your leadership style will also set the stage for your workplace culture. If you want your workplace to be a great place to work, it starts with YOU.
Back to the basics: What does being a leader mean?
There’s a fine line between being a leader and a boss. Being a leader is anyone who has a vision and the passion to turn their vision into a reality.
A leader recruits the right kind of people who a) possess the necessary skills and b) are a good fit to the company culture. A leader understands the importance of being empathetic and is aware of how their decisions, (even down to the tone of their voice) may be perceived by their employees.
So, what kind of a leader do you want to be in the eyes of your employees? Is it important for your employees to feel comfortable enough to speak up when they have new ideas? Are you willing to listen?
Or are you more of a ‘my way or the highway’ kind of leader like Dwight Schrute? If you want to know what his management style is like, watch video clips of ‘The Office’ where Dwight is acting manager. Whilst hilarious, his leadership style is a nightmare for employees.
To develop your leadership skills, you really want to know yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
If you were thrust into a leadership position tomorrow, how would you handle it?
You may even possess some traits that hold you back as a leader! For example, will you let the power go to your head? Do you faint at the thought of public speaking? Do you project your stress onto others or shut down when the going gets tough? These are all things to consider. It’s true what they say, gaining such power and authority can change a person for the better (or for the worse).
Employees will simply jump ship if you let the power get to your head. Your way or the highway? Okay well I’ll be driving off into the distance thank you! To ensure this doesn’t happen, always make sure that you hold yourself to the same rules and guidelines that you expect of your employees. Never ask an employee to do something that you are unwilling to do yourself.
Another important part of being a leader is being able to remain calm under fire and cool enough under pressure to still be able to make the right decision (or what’s best at that time).
Tips for remaining calm under pressure:
- Take deep breathes to clear the mind
- Stay focused on the positives of the situation
- Take 5 if you need to
- Surround yourself with positive and level-headed team members
Even when the pressure’s on, you still want to think and stay slightly ahead of the perceived outcome. This means that you need to give yourself enough time to weigh each option and choose what you believe is the right approach with the data in front of you.
Your self-assessment is half the battle, so ask your peers how they think you would go in a leadership position. Be prepared, honesty is best!
Why is being a leader important?
Leaders are chief motivators. They remind their team of what they have accomplished and what goals are left to achieve.
Leaders also make the tough decisions regarding the business and its future. Their personality and values shape how their workplace culture is created.
Effective leadership will:
- Improve morale
- Boost engagement
- Inspire confidence
- Build connectedness
- Enable innovation
On the flipside, poor leadership will result in:
- Low morale
- High employee turnover
- Poor employee performance
- A toxic workplace culture
So, simply labelling leadership as ‘important’ is an understatement to say the least! It’s more like vital, crucial, necessary, life or death…okay that’s a tad dramatic but you get the idea.
If you want to be a leader, it’s important to develop and be aware of your own leadership style. It won’t fall into your lap overnight, instead leadership takes time, trial, and error to get it right. Be sure to get to know yourself and try to give more value to the business no matter what your role.
If you are an aspiring business owner that wants to hire people, think about how you plan on treating your employees. What kind of leader do you want to be in their eyes? Leadership is a role that carries a lot of weight and responsibility.
If you can handle the pressure, are able to motivate and are open to listening, you’ll be in good shape when the time comes to take over.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell