In the beginning of every great organization or business, is the creation or development of a great leader. Leadership is a quality that many people are born with through personality traits and natural skill sets. As a whole however, leadership is a mark that has to be intentionally developed with willingness and a determined attitude. Whether you are the head janitor, own your own lending company, or are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, leadership will be the fuel that delivers you to greater heights of business success.
As the leadership ability of a person continues to grow, so will the organization. Great leaders are multi-faceted and most don’t excel at just one thing. If you’re interested in being a great leader, you have to be lucky enough to have been born with these traits, or go out and actively develop them. Here are just a few of the traits that make a great leader.
Steven Covey wrote in his book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” that “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Empathic listening is a skill that many people have difficulty carrying out, but is useful and vital to becoming a great leader.
In his book, Seven Covey explains that when you are an empathic listener, you are “reflecting what a person feels and says in your own words to their satisfaction so they feel listened to and understood.” This is difficult because it requires focus to completely hear what that person is saying from beginning to end and it’s a trait most of us don’t have. Useful phrases to repeat back what you have heard from them are: “So, if I am understanding you correctly you are saying…”, “What I’m hearing is…”, or “You feel….about…”
Empathic listening is especially useful in terms of dealing with clients. When contract management comes into play, customers are looking for a very specific vision to be carried out, or a specific set of deliverables. Fail to deliver and you begin to burn bridges. In my experience, most of the time a client doesn’t like your work it’s from failure to truly understand the message they’re trying to convey. Better listening during the contract stage is the key to solving this common problem.
Being a Team Player
Being a great leader doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers. In fact many times it entails the exact opposite of knowing everything. Being a great leader is getting underneath the people you are leading and building them up. Identifying the skills, talents and qualities in the people you are leading and bringing the best out of them.
By taking this approach you are not only empowering them as an individual, but also being a coach and maxamizing their job performance. As this coach, you are not just identifying strengths, but also utilizing their ideas. You know what they say, “two heads are better then one.” Having regular team meetings that exercise open brainstorming discussions are a great way of tapping into the ideas and thoughts of your team. This will not only benefit your organization, but also give them a feeling of ownership and value.
Give them a vision
Being a great vision caster will help those around you develop a more profound understanding of the direction you’re heading. I’ve had many people ask, “How do I cast a vision so that all of those around me can see it?” This does not require impressive oratory skills; it just requires the ability to paint a picture. Take time in your conversations and paint for them the picture of where you see your team going. Give them examples of how you can get there, and what it would look like. This may mean describing a building, or what office chemistry would look like. It seems simple, but it’s an important tool to get all of your team members moving in the right direction.
Being patient with other people – and yourself – is a challenge when you have the drive to be all that you can be. Start with these few areas of empathic listening, team building and vision casting as a launching point to bring yourself and your team to the next level of success with great leadership!
Anna Hicks is an online writer who focuses her writing on personal finance, business, and sometimes career. Anna’s normal writing topics include finance applications in business or even things as simple as family finance. You can read more writing by Anna at her personal finance website, paidtwice.com
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