A person who has commanding authority or influence is a leader.
It doesn’t matter whether you were appointed in a high position, or you’re the only one who really knows the work, or sometimes, everybody else is just new.
And it doesn’t really matter whether you’re CEO or not.
We can work on the definition that a leader may have either of the two, or both: authority and influence. A lot could be required from the leader to have and maintain either of them.
If you know how to be an effective leader in your workplace, you can be as effective at home or anywhere else as a friend, a relative or even a stranger.
What does it take to be an effective leader? Is it still better to be feared than to be loved? Did you know that one in 2,000 leaders is being disliked despite his being effective? If you’re among them, well, we can say that you’re pretty unlucky.
Leaders may use three sources of power: the power of relationships, the power of information, and the power to reward others. Two out of three leverage relationships.
Below are ways you can be an effective leader—anywhere, anytime.
1. Stick with the vision.
All great feats start with a vision.
Every day you’re also guided by visions, whether big or simply of routine. Your visions could be as big as accomplishing your group’s greatest goals, or as simple as not being absent at work.
You know you have visions every time—you just have to choose which you’d like to pursue and use your energy, time and other resources for.
Your visions may root in what you and your colleagues want to do—or passions. They may take a really long time. You could even have too many goals to take action on simultaneously—you may need to work on just one within a set period of time first—regardless of how many years it’d take.
As a leader you must be goal-oriented. Goals are born of visions, and goals should be timed. Because there’s a timetable, everybody should be as efficient as possible.
An effective leader always thinks about progress. You’ll have to encourage productivity—or make sure that your teammates are going to be productive, even if it means they have to take some time off.
Should there be a need to work on stretch goals, you’ll have to see that your team is not burning out—even though they’re taking the goals to heart.
As a leader, what’s the vision you’re working on right now?
Hard work always pays, especially if it supports these visions. And you may need hard work just to stay on track.
2. Get along with people.
Research shows that one of the best predictors of effective leadership is extroversion. And how could that be untrue? If you’re the boss, do you think everybody will just reach out to you? That’s right—perhaps even no one will. You, being the leader, need to reach out.
Remember that true leadership is for the people.
Competence, it’s a given. But for most leaders, believe it or not, specialized-skills competence is less important than the leader’s ability to interact with his subordinates, and the leader’s character and attitude during pressing times.
You develop your competence over time, especially with feedback you’ll be receiving from your group, but leadership will be more than that. How to be an effective leader involves engaging your teammates in mental, emotional and social ways—leadership is about building relationships.
Okay, so not everyone is an extrovert. Are you an introvert? Don’t worry—introverts can also be great leaders.
All these relationships root in good communication.
Communication is the only thing that could make your group thrive. And communication doesn’t only mean being able to understand what the other person is literally saying.
Communication also means openness, perceptiveness and approachability.
Listening is the more important side of communication.
Drop your “boss” ego and make sure that there’s transparency every time—through good communication.
Don’t deprive your subordinates of praises—everybody needs it, everybody wants a happier working environment.
3. Hone your judgment and decision making.
You’ll improve your judgment and decision making over time.
An effective leader must be able to make decisions whenever needed. This isn’t because he’s the only one who should do it, anyway.
He decides because he leads. He decides because the group trusts him and his abilities and skills. He decides because he makes sure all his teammates’ voices are heard. He decides because he leads!
Now, are you going to make wrong decisions and judgment calls? Why aren’t you? You can’t possibly know everything!
But as I said before, these mistakes could be less important than who you are to your subordinates—their leader.
Now, don’t get me wrong—skills are important. And you shouldn’t develop the habit of blaming. (Especially if you’re blaming one of your teammates. Seriously? Be accountable for your team!)
As the leader, it’s your job to make sure your team thinks, acts and dreams in unison.
Every step your group takes start from the decisions you, the leader, make.
4. Keep your integrity intact.
You know what integrity is, right?
Integrity is moral soundness, and it covers conscientiousness, honesty and trust.
As a leader, you’d want to do what’s right. You wouldn’t want to cheat, lie or badmouth. I get it, you’re just human. I won’t blame you for just being human. And for sure, from time to time, you’re faced with challenges that make you choose whether you’ll cheat, lie or badmouth.
The thing is, people look up to you as a leader.
You have to be authentic. And act as if you’re all alone every time. Integrity happens when you’re all alone. And when you let your integrity down—people will see that—perhaps not now, but when they see that, trust me, you’ll crash and burn.
So, do you cheat just to achieve success? I hope not.
Once I had a boss who was a cheat. Everybody (at least his subordinates) knew that he could only make up with his superiors through flowery words and whatnot, but that was all. He’d manipulate results. He’d manipulate accomplishment reports, when the truth was, the work suffered and was delayed.
He was kicked out from the company. We heard he’s on to another one. And we heard that he’d been always like that even way before we worked under him.
What could compromise your integrity? If money could, then I’m telling you, you’ll be falling soon.
Nothing’s worth your integrity. You may be proud about results you could get from lying or cheating (like my previous boss may have been) but if you’re content doing that, you could get yourself in trouble down the road.
Integrity promotes honesty and trust. I won’t follow a leader who’s dishonest and untrustworthy.
Your followers are, in a good way, selfish—they want to improve their lives. If they can’t trust you—and remain stagnant because of your leadership—the whole group, organization or company may suffer. And visions may be lost.
You don’t have to be perfect or flawless. You could be yourself. But make sure you act like a true leader, because you are a leader.
Be strong in your integrity, and you’ll be a strong leader.
5. Persistence covers all.
Yes, persistence also covers the four previous points above.
Keep your persistence unshakable.
You’ve decided to become a leader—now you already are. You’ve got to show how to be an effective leader.
But sometimes, you’ll simply be pissed off. You’ll be dragged. You’ll be exhausted. Circumstances will exhaust you. People will exhaust you. Even you will exhaust you. Worse, the whole year may exhaust you.
And you’ll begin to doubt everything, including yourself—because you’re a leader. You’re a leader of a group that has a purpose. You’re a leader of a group that’s doing something no other group is doing.
It’s as if you were born to be a leader.
Here’s some good news: Effective leaders are persistent.
If you want to be effective, know that those who quit in the face of adversity won’t succeed. That those who aren’t willing to be embarrassed because they have to do what’s important won’t achieve anything.
Persistence stands the test of time.
But challenges are just a side of the coin. The other side is all about your, and your group’s, improvement.
Persist in improving despite the ups and downs of life.
Persist in learning. Persist in serving. Persist in being nice to the people in your team. Persist in being nice to the people outside of your team. Persist in keeping your cool. Persist in being helpful.
Perhaps the most important, is persist in leading by action. Influence people by action, untiringly.
All these can be done.
Persistence will keep you sane. It’ll help you find balance.
Think About It
Everybody can be a leader. Position is not a limit—it’s a privilege. Go to any place, any establishment, and you’ll most probably find a bunch of leaders.
Remember authority and influence. You can build your authority simply by really knowing what you do. And influence by knowing how to deal with people.
Now, ask yourself: What’s the main purpose of an effective leader?
Well, to me, it’s more than just achieving goals for a company or group or organization. It’s more than being ruthless for success. It’s more than all the material rewards one could possibly gain.
An effective leader is someone who can do all that while getting his teammates’ hearts, favor and trust. While not violating anyone. Because a leader who can’t handle and take care of his team can never handle and take care of anyone outside of it.
Effective leaders think of the welfare of others, outside of themselves.
They make the world a better place.
They make a difference.
Speak Your Mind
What to you is the best tip on how to be an effective leader? Who’s a leader you look up to and what trait of his or hers do you admire the most? Tell us about them in the comments below!