There are distinct differences between managers and leaders. However, the new workplace is starting to see the interconnectedness of managers and leaders as organizations get leaner. For example, managers are being forced to become more strategic to cast their own vision for course-correction as the marketplace shifts more rapidly and competitive pressure impacts the bottom line faster. As such, managers must become better leaders as the demand for instant results and higher levels of performance are required to navigate the fiercely competitive landscape.
Today’s manager must have a more authoritative mindset. In other words, while their role and responsibilities are that of a manager, they must carry the executive presence of a leader that instills commanding confidence in his or her team. Managers need to step-up their game and prepare themselves for the next opportunity that awaits them. If you are a manager who is not investing in yourself for advancement and leadership roles, your relevancy in your organization will diminish.
If you are at that stage in your career, or if you believe that you could help someone who is, the following are six proven ways to more rapidly become a better leader in your workplace:
1. Strengthen Your People Skills
Having solid people skills represents the essence of leadership. Being able to relate to others and for others to relate to you is critical in earning trust and building a foundation of respect. This means that you must learn to get along with those who may not necessarily like you or desire a relationship with you. The best you can do sometimes is earn respect – and in a workplace environment that can carry you a long way as a leader.
In strengthening your people skills, remember that the best leaders are always mindful of what matters most to those they lead. They believe that the goals of others are as important as their own. As such, make the time for others – you will be building meaningful relationships that can then serve to achieve results together.
Be mindful that leadership is a give and take and the by-product of a trustworthy relationship that is focused on the betterment of a healthier whole.
2. Motivate and Inspire Others to Achieve
Strengthening your people skills will help make you an effective motivator (as these two factors are dependent on one another). Great leaders focus on helping others become better. They are advocates for the advancement of others. They want the impact of their legacy to be directly related to the success of others and the organization they serve.
Always remember that every person is unique and how you inspire others to achieve requires you to know their goals, desires and aspirations. Motivation is a personal thing and while there are general motivational triggers – the most powerful are the motivational tools that can resonate with a person’s individual needs.
3. Be Authentic and Genuine You can’t be a leader unless you can be authentic and genuine. Sustainable leadership is not an act (though we have seen many who have tried). Sincerity is a powerful thing and comes from knowing who you are and what you desire to represent. It is something that people witness through your passionate beliefs and concern for others.
The most powerful leaders make you feel as if they are speaking directly to you.
A leader must establish an identity that is true; one that others can relate to and be comfortable with – that makes a leader easier to interpret and understand. This is a problem today as most people find it difficult to trust leaders because they don’t know if they are being genuine. In fact, many would say that leaders are not taking the initiative to be understood so as to be more effective in connecting with others. Leaders must stop being someone they are not. Employees respond better to those they can trust, who are sincere and transparent (enough) within the work environment.
4. Resolve Difficult Situations
The best leaders know how to create a harmonious environment in the most difficult of times. They rally the team to solve problems together. They promote collaboration and simplify root problems into manageable solutions. Leaders turn difficult situations into “engaging learning moments.” They also use times of duress to discover new leaders: those who can manage pressure and who have the mental toughness to handle the requirements of strong leadership.
You know that you are a good leader when you can solve problems with a quick look at the situation at hand. Effective leaders can detect the experienced ones in the room and those who are not afraid to make decisions and embrace risk. They also know where the egos and hidden agendas reside.
5. Achieve Results in Different Ways
Leaders are effective at identifying opportunities that others don’t see. They are strategic and push the envelope to discover results that can be more sustainable. Leaders are fearless when embarking upon new things and will challenge the status quo – responsibly.
How many times did you believe you had a better way of accomplishing corporate goals? Did you remain quiet or did you design a strategy that you could confidently “sell” to your team or department?
Leaders always think ahead and can calculate what lies around the corner. They make things happen through their creativity to achieve results.
6. Cast a Clear Vision
The key to defining an overarching goal is to make it: 1) simple to understand, 2) relevant for the needs of your customers, and 3) memorable for people to repeat and execute. Casting a vision is being able to anticipate crisis and/or change (which very few can do). But to cast a vision clearly requires a high level of expertise and intelligence about your business, industry and marketplace climate. Communicating vision requires know-how and those leaders who don’t hesitate to “get-their-hands-dirty” will be more effective at casting a clear vision in multiple ways. In other words, they are able to communicate their vision across the rank and file and are able to provide concrete examples to explain “why and how” their vision will be attained.
Your journey from management into leadership is a road of trials and tribulations – but these six traits will help you leap ahead faster, smarter and wiser.