Leadership isn’t about being a Director of Finance or CFO. You could be a leader even if you don’t have a position of authority. In fact, a true leader is someone that people would follow regardless of title. It’s about understanding when to take the lead from the front, and when to climb into the trenches. It’s about influencing from a place of service and respect. Want to become a better leader? Here are some ways to do so.
Take Yourself Out of the Equation
To lead effectively you need to focus on building success in others. Whether you’re mentoring, introducing a new policy, or revisiting goals, your ego must be taken out of the equation.
Communicate the Vision and Set Goals
Clearly communicate your vision and connect it to the larger mission of the organization. Then collaboratively set goals with each individual on your team. They can be a valuable source of strategic input.
Read: “How to Set Goals as a Finance Manager (and Help Your Team Achieve Them)” to learn how supportive autonomy can lead to team success.
Refine Your Skills
Know your strengths and leverage them. Similarly, know the gaps in your skill set and seek to mitigate them through additional professional development, or hiring people with complementary abilities.
There is no such thing as perfect. Setbacks, and how you respond to them, define your career success. Own your mistakes and if a team member missteps, support them and debrief on how to do better next time.
Predictable is not boring, especially when it comes to the behavior of a leader. Teams need to understand that if they do action A, you’ll likely respond with behavior B. This evenness on the part of a leader creates a feeling of safety for teams to take risks and innovate. After all, you want a team who shares their ideas and understands that leadership comes from everyone.
Model the behaviors that you want to see in your team. They’ll be looking to you to set the tone for what’s appropriate.
Always Follow Through
Mean what you say. It will help establish trust when you follow through. Most importantly, don’t overpromise and under deliver. It’s great to motivate a team, but be realistic in setting expectations.
Understand Individual Drivers
If you take the time to get to know your team members as individuals, you’ll learn what motivates them. This will help you position information to get maximum buy-in and to elevate a team member’s performance if need be.
Communication Is Key
The heart of successful leadership lies in strong communication skills. Whether it’s active listening, collaboration, or giving feedback, how well you communicate will, in large part, dictate the success of your team.
Read this article to brush up on your active listening skills.
Whether you’re actually in a position of authority, or simply taking the lead on a project or initiative, there are ways to improve your leadership skills. Communicate your vision clearly and explain how it can facilitate success in others. Set goals collaboratively and remember that your team or coworkers can be valuable sources of strategic insight. Model the behaviors that you wish to see in your team and always follow through if possible. Take the time to understand people’s individual drivers. It will help you motivate them. And above all else, recognize the importance of effective communication. It’s the foundation of truly exceptional leadership.
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