Effective leadership is more than just management - it builds on managerial skills. A good leader offers direction to people, gets them to share their vision for the business, and aims to create conditions for them to achieve great results.
Skills you need to be a good leader
In order to lead your staff, you need to be able to communicate:
- a vision of what the business stands for and where you want it to be
- values and priorities across the organisation
- what you as an individual intend to do to realise that vision and reflect those values
- what individual employees can do to realise that vision and reflect those values
You can show leadership to staff by:
- involving them in decision-making
- providing personal encouragement
- recognising and rewarding good performance
- helping to build their confidence to use their own initiative
- inspiring them with a vision for success
- ensuring good two-way communication
The skills learned by effective leaders can be grouped into five main areas:
- planning/strategic focus
- customer focus
- team management
- change management
You will need to use different skills at different times - there's no 'one size fits all' approach to leadership.
In addition, the right leadership style will depend on your business and your own character. A softer, mentoring style of leadership may be appropriate - or you may opt for a more directional approach.
Leadership and your senior management team
If you have a team of senior managers, it's important that it also shows leadership qualities and helps to engage staff.
In order to achieve this, the team must be unified. If not, being disjointed could put off anyone involved with your business, eg employees, customers, clients or suppliers, and lead to the business' failure.
Having a strong management team is particularly significant if:
- your business operates in more than one location
- you are in more than one type of business/industry
- your business has more than one culture - or the culture is changing, eg following a merger or acquisition
You may need to consider whether you - and other senior managers if you have them - could benefit from some kind of leadership training.
You can develop your leadership style by aiming for a recognised standard of competence. Competency frameworks use performance indicators to help you measure your progress.
Two of the most widely used frameworks are: