Renowned author John C. Maxwell once wrote, “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” Indeed, true leaders adjust the metaphorical sails to ensure that the company achieves its aims. The question begs, however, how can companies implement effective leadership practices?
True leaders are those capable of empowering and motivating staff to deliver their best effort consistently. True leaders empower their staff members and boost motivation by implementing effective leadership practices designed for building great teams.
But what are these effective leadership practices?
There are seven effective leadership practices for building great teams that all true leaders must fully understand. These practices will be the core of this discussion. But first, it is essential to know what makes an effective leader.
• Being a competent manager is not enough to become a true leader. Being a good boss goes beyond achieving company targets.
• Effective leaders exhibit specific characteristics that enable them to engage and motivate their teams.
• There are seven effective leadership practices true leaders embrace. Successful corporations implement these practices to get the most out of their teams’ talents.
Traits of an Effective Leader
A common misconception is to equate a competent manager with an effective leader. Competent managers possess the skillset needed to achieve outcomes. They are adept at ensuring that others complete their assigned tasks and fulfill their roles.
In contrast, an effective leader goes above and beyond merely fulfilling tasks. Effective leaders can inspire those around them to give their best regularly. True leaders are capable of seeing beyond their usual duty. They have the vision and desire to achieve much more. Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of General Electric, beautifully expressed the following notion: “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive to its completion.” This thought underscores a critical factor effective leaders possess: vision. Vision is the determining factor in achieving greatness.
Ronald F. Cichy, the former director of the School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University, discussed vision in a recent article. Dr. Cichy states that organizations must communicate their vision to achieve goals. However, articulating a vision should not stop there. Organizations must inspire individuals to take ownership of that vision and aspire to become visionary leaders. Visionary leaders, therefore, “provide the spark that inspires others to work toward the same goals. They also provide the tools to help them get there.” This thought conveys the need to light a fire that will spread throughout the organization.
Being a leader goes beyond competency. Competent managers have the technical skillset to get the job done. So, the question begs, what do organizations truly want? Are organizations content with merely getting the job done? Or is there a genuine pursuit of something greater? This pursuit pushes individuals to transcend beyond the realm of competency and enter the domain of leadership.
Characteristics of True leaders
• Vision. Effective leaders can see where they want to go. They know the road ahead of them and can recognize how to get there. True leaders can link their personal vision with the organizational one. This link allows them to pursue both individual and collective success.
• Communication. True leaders can articulate their vision in terms that everyone can identify. Great leaders have a knack for getting others on board and committing to the organization’s collective efforts. Research has shown that effective leadership influences others to achieve set objectives. This influence, however, largely depends on the leaders’ ability to procure the means for their followers to succeed.
• Core values. Strong leaders also have strong core values. They believe in balancing work and life, prioritizing family, and focusing during their productive time. In other words, great leaders are competent and have a strong character to back up their confidence. A 2016 study demonstrated how the strength of character is a determining factor in consistently outstanding individuals.
• Inspiration. It is easy to believe that inspiration is about saying the right things at the right time. In reality, inspiration is about communicating a clear vision that others will follow. Inspiration, however, does not stop there. Inspiration provides the means and tools necessary to achieve a common pursuit. Effective leaders can say the right things, but they also do the right things.
• Dedication. Contrary to cultural misconceptions, leaders are not “born.” Effective leadership is a skill that great leaders cultivate with time and effort. In his book, Leadership Development in Balance (Psychology Press, 2004), Bruce Avolio explores this notion in great detail. Avolio states that leadership traits are made and born. This assertion highlights the assumption that great leaders have character traits that allow them to exhibit leadership. However, these leadership traits cannot flourish without action and cultivation. True leaders, consequently, take the time to cultivate their skills on their path to becoming truly effective leaders.
The Seven Effective Leadership Practices for Building Great Teams
Understanding what makes an effective leader is merely the first step. As dedicated as they are, great leaders invest their time and efforts into cultivating effective leadership practices that can catapult their teams to a new level. It is, therefore, crucial to understand the seven effective leadership practices that leaders have come to rely upon to build great teams.
1. Find new ways to keep motivation high
Undoubtedly, motivation plays a crucial role in achieving organizational goals. The challenge that leaders face is keeping their teams highly motivated over the long term. The key lies in continually finding new ways to keep motivation high.
Please bear in mind that “new ways” do not imply gimmicks. Of course, it is great to have fun in the workplace, but fun can quickly become passé. Great leaders always put people first when referring to new ways to keep motivation high. They consistently think about their staff ahead of themselves. This approach entails listening thoughtfully to people’s needs and addressing them promptly. This attitude is what gives way to new ways to motivate people.
Great leaders make use of their high emotional intelligence. They listen to their staff, understand their needs, and develop ways of addressing those needs. When staff members feel valued, their engagement skyrockets. As this paper points out, leaders are at the core of employee motivation. By putting people first, true leaders build engagement and boost motivation.
2. Communicate often, clearly, and professionally
The adage, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” encapsulates this point. Leaders have a knack for communicating their vision clearly. However, communication also depends on frequency and delivery. First, great leaders understand that communication is an ongoing, two-way process. Competent managers tend to dictate instructions.
In contrast, leaders communicate objectives and the necessary tasks to achieve them. Leaders maintain consistent communication with their teams. They listen more than they speak. Moreover, they keep an open mind.
Floyd and Cardon, in the 2020 Book, Business and Professional Communication, Putting People First, make a case for professional communication by putting people first. Nevertheless, what does it mean to put people first in this context? It entails considering people’s individuality (i.e., ethnicity, gender), social customs, emotional needs, and diversity. Therefore, professional communication is a multi-dimensional approach that great leaders must comprehend. Effective leaders can communicate often, clearly, and professionally first by understanding individual needs.
3. Develop employees and their careers
In keeping with this discussion’s overarching theme, effective leaders put their employees’ development and career at the forefront. Great leaders understand that their team members have individual pursuits, too. Therefore, leaders strive to do whatever is necessary to help their team members achieve their personal goals parallel to organizational ones.
How can effective leaders develop employees and their careers?
The answer lies in providing growth and development opportunities whenever possible. However, there is a catch to this notion. The aim is not to train staff to do their job. Instead, the aim is to provide staff members with the chance to flourish in their roles. Additionally, effective leaders know that these growth opportunities must also extend to personal pursuits. Companies like Google allow their employees to pursue personal projects during working hours. Google does this because it understands that personal growth and development enable employees to become more effective in their company roles.
4. Empower employees whenever possible
Competent managers are efficient at delegating tasks. They are capable of optimizing resources and roles. True leaders take this approach one step further. True leaders empower their team members by allowing them to take ownership of their tasks and roles. As a 2020 literature review points out, empowerment is about sharing power and motivating employees to crave “superior performance.” Thus, empowering people is about enabling them to take their share of the responsibility and authority within the scope of their roles.
Empowering people leads to the following key realization: the days of the all-powerful manager are long gone. Instead, effective leaders understand that responsibility and authority are a careful balancing act. Great leaders learn how to balance the organizational load so that every member carries their fair share.
5. Foster partnerships
The concept of a top-down management style has given way to a horizontal organizational approach. As such, effective leaders tend to view themselves as leaders among peers. This attitude greatly contrasts with the notion of being “the boss.” It is about building rapport through positive interactions.
Effective leaders seek to foster partnerships throughout the organization. They value meaningful contributions that stem from close collaboration. Therefore, great leaders understand that working in a positively charged is conducive to achieving organizational outcomes.
The question then begs, what is the most effective way to foster partnerships in the workplace?
The answer lies in inclusivity. In this regard, inclusivity entails breaking down any barriers (i.e., negative stereotypes) that prevent team members from contributing to the achievement of organizational outcomes. Often, these barriers stem from a negatively charged working environment. Inclusivity seeks to create a positive working environment where friendly, cordial, and collaborative interactions dominate the landscape. By fostering a positive working environment, innovation and growth can flourish.
6. Recognize good performance
Recognition is one of the most effective motivational tools organizations can use to boost employee motivation. Recognizing outstanding performance helps employees gauge their contributions to the organization. According to a 2019 study, recognition is one of the reward mechanisms companies can use to acknowledge exceptional performance.
It is worth noting that public recognition profoundly affects employee engagement. Companies validate employees’ hard work and efforts by publicly acknowledging superior performance. In contrast, organizations should address disciplinary matters privately. In doing so, companies can avoid putting employees on the spot. Ultimately, true leaders know when to acknowledge great work publicly and when to discuss negative issues privately.
7. Build trust
Great leaders are capable of building trust in their teams. However, building trust is not an automatic process. Building trust requires two crucial elements: accountability and transparency. Effective leaders hold themselves accountable for their actions. They own up to their mistakes and allow feedback to guide their performance.
Similarly, great leaders are transparent and have nothing to hide. They communicate decisions openly and welcome input from team members. They are forthright and honest. They take credit when it is due and share it with those that deserve it.
Trust requires a delicate balance of consistency, competence, and commitment. When true leaders lead by example, they foster an environment of trust and confidence. When trust permeates the working environment, leaders can back off and let others do their jobs. This approach involves micromanaging situations as little as possible. Of course, this is not to say that leaders should have a hands-off approach. This assumption communicates that once trust takes a foothold, there is no need to “supervise” staff. Leaders can rest assured that their team can do their job. If the team needs help, they are accountable and transparent enough to admit they need help and ask for it.
How Can TalentZök Help Your Organization Build a Great Team?
At TalentZök, we believe in building great teams by fostering a positive working environment. Every one of our team members is a leader in their own right. We believe in owning our roles and fulfilling them to the best of our abilities. This attitude enables us to find the right people for the right positions. Let us help you find the right people for your company so it can flourish with leaders at every turn – contact us today!
This post is made available for informational purposes only to provide a general understanding of the topics discussed herein. It is not intended to provide specific business, legal, or professional advice and should not be relied on as such. TalentZök is not liable or responsible for any damage or loss arising from any reliance placed on such materials.