Some people seem to excel at just about everything they do. The reality is that most people have a set of strengths and weaknesses. In fact, many of the people you think are good at everything may actually have challenges that you aren’t even aware of.
What is your balance of skills?
Skill balances are very apparent in the realm of athletics. MMA fighters, for instance, compete against each other using at least a couple of different disciplines, mainly grappling and striking. Some fighters are excellent grapplers, but a skilled striker can throw them off their game, negating their holds. Others are fierce strikers, but if you tie them up in a submission hold, they won’t be able to fight back.
Successful fighters must have at least some ability in both disciplines, but almost everyone is stronger in one, than the other.
Other sports, like baseball and basketball, require athletes to play both offense and defense. The norm is that most players are very good at one, and adequate at the other. In baseball, for instance, only the most elite baseball players consistently have a high batting average and excellent fielding skills.
The world of business and non-profit organizations is really no different. We’ve all been inspired by leaders who seem to be highly effective in both day-to-day management and truly leading their team. The vast majority are probably stronger in one than the other, i.e., a better manager than leader or vice versa.
Generally, people can’t make it very far with zero leadership skills, so if someone has worked their way to a position of management, they are more of a leader than they think they are. The key is to honestly assess where you need work and put in the time to improve. You can develop the skills you need to be effective, even if you aren’t a natural-born leader. This has been proven in situation after situation.
What does it mean to be a leader?
The term “leader” can mean slightly different things to different people. This is because at an innate human level, we are looking for different characteristics of an individual to tell us what to do and guide us in a particular direction.
Some people view a leader more as a trusted friend. Others prefer a more distant presence. Some respond to a tough approach, others through more compassion.
There simply isn’t just one way to be an effective leader. The best leaders are able to convey what needs to be conveyed in a way that reaches everyone on their team. There are several common elements to leadership that you can develop. Some will be easier for you to master than others. It’s up to you to see where your leadership potential lies, and work towards reaching it. Here are a few elements of leadership, and some tips to start to developing them:
Showing others that you believe in yourself and in the goals you are trying to reach certainly inspires others. This can be done in the way you speak, how you dress and how you carry yourself.
There’s a host of great books about building your confidence. Start with little things, push your boundaries and soon, people will see you in a different light.
Nothing turns people off more than hubris and overconfidence. Make sure you are taking the time to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments as a team. Sometimes when we are struggling to lead, it’s easy to be short with people.
The stress that comes with growing as a person is natural. Make sure that you apologize and ask for forgiveness if you realize you were a little too assertive in a particular situation. This too builds trust. You’ll find that your team members want you to succeed just as much as you do. Earn their forgiveness and move forward together.
Understanding how others feel is often a great way to create a bond of trust between leaders and those they are leading. Empathy isn’t always easily achieved. Some people seem to be born with the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Others may need a bit more effort to frame another person’s challenges in their own personal life experience.
What you do with empathy is just as important as having it in the first place. A leader may need to say, “I understand how you feel, but we need to focus on the task at hand,” which can be hard for some.
Leaders achieve efficiency through delegation. Consistently doing things yourself is a sure path to burn out and stepping on the toes of your team members. When you don’t delegate, you show a lack of trust in your employees. Without trust, it’s difficult to establish yourself as a leader.
If delegation is difficult for you, then start small and take it in chunks. Perhaps there’s a small project you can give a trusted employee. Or, you can segment off some projects, and “delegate the delegation” to someone you know you can trust.
Your goal: to be an effective manager
Leadership in and of itself is a noble pursuit, but it can’t be practically applied without effective management. On the other hand, being a truly effective manager requires the development of leadership skills.
The two go hand in hand. Being an effective manager means leading your team members to cooperate and work towards a common goal. If you are in a management position, you need to develop that leadership right away.
Journaling is a great place to start. At the end of each day, take a few minutes to reflect on what happened. Keep a little journal, and write down some approachable goals for the next day, week or quarter.
This will help you assess your leadership strengths and weaknesses. Whenever you have a challenge or obstacle, really think about what happened, what got you through it, and most importantly, what might have made it easier.
Perhaps you realized that delegating some of the tasks might have allowed you to focus on managing your workers more effectively. Maybe you’ll see that you should listen a little more closely, or communicate in a different way.
Everyone Can Lead
Effective leadership skills are within your grasp. Read about leadership, then engage in an honest process of goal setting and accountability. You’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish!
Living Pono is dedicated to communicating business management concepts with Hawaiian values. Founded by Kevin May, an established and successful leader and mentor, Living Pono is your destination to learn about how to live your life righteously and how that can have positive effects in your career. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or contact us here. Also, join our mailing list below, so you can be alerted when a new article is released.
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