Leadership is one of the most discussed subjects in the corporate world. That’s partially because it is so important to the success of a company, but it’s also because there are so many different approaches and opinions on how best to lead.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with some phenomenal leaders in my career, and have seen different leadership styles work for different people. But there are core concepts I’ve seen that are shared by every effective leader I know, and I use those concepts as my guiding light every day with Modis.
1. They Respect Their Employees
Respect is fundamental to building a positive and productive work environment. Your employees put their trust in you to lead both the company and their own careers and professional aspirations. It’s a privilege to be in that position, but it’s a position that some leaders take for granted.
Once respect is lost, it’s almost impossible for a leader to earn it back. But when an employee feels respected – and by extension, valued – they often return that respect in spades. Remember that respect is always a two-way street, and it must be given to be received.
2. They Prioritize ‘We’ Over ‘I’
As an employee, one of the worst feelings is when you work hard on a project, only to feel like your contribution has gone unnoticed. Or worst still, when you feel that your manager has taken credit for your hard work.
As a leader, you’re often the one delivering items to clients or other departments that an entire team has worked on. It’s not realistic to call out every team member who worked on a deliverable by name during the delivery, but a simple shift from “I” to “we” can have a huge impact on office morale. It’s a small shift, but it demonstrates that you see your team as a cohesive unit with valued opinions rather than employees who only work to make you look good.
3. They Keep Communication Open and Honest
Communication is one of a leader’s primary responsibilities, and poor management communication is one of the most cited reasons why an employee leaves a company.
Effective leaders communicate business and project objectives from the outset, and regularly keep their teams updated on client and internal developments.
Clear communication also means spelling out an employee’s path for career advancement, and providing constructive feedback to help keep them on that path. In the event that an employee is not ready for a promotion during a review period, for example, giving them honest and actionable objectives will arm them with a clear plan for their next year. Instead of feeling lost, they’ll feel like they’ve been given the tools to succeed.
4. They’re Open to New Ideas
Even the best leaders don’t know everything, but one common trap I see is leaders who resist new ideas simply because they want to look like they have all the answers.
True leadership is about listening to the people around you, and then using your position to put their good ideas into action. Beyond listening, it’s equally as important to build an environment where employees feel comfortable and encouraged to share their ideas with you.
5. They Have a Servant-leader Mindset
That leadership hierarchy of absolute dominance isn’t the most effective way to lead. In fact, I’ve found the exact opposite to be true – it’s more effective to flip that hierarchy upside down and serve your team rather than setting an expectation that they are there to work for you.
How do you do this? By empowering your team to achieve their goals and ensuring that their needs are served. Every person has value, and when they know you believe in them, it empowers them to accomplish even greater things.
6. They Lead By Example
If your actions don’t line up with your expectations of others, what motivates your team to believe in and follow you? Mahatma Gandhi had it right when he said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” As a leader, you have to be the worker you want your team to be.
To boil these down further, effective leadership stems from respect and communication. Build your leadership approach on a foundation of respect and communication, and your office culture and employee morale will flourish.