This week's topic: Top 7 Ways to be an Effective Leader.
If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you do it too? As much as we hate to admit it, mom had a point there. People follow leaders for good and bad reasons…but they only stick it out for the good things.
It’s up to the leader to identify and develop those good attributes. This can be challenging with conflicting advice about being a successful leader and/or leadership style hitting you at every angle.
Luckily, leadership coach and Managing Principal at Rockwell Business Solutions, Founder and Chair of Savannah CFO Council, and author of The Alligator Business Solution, Roy Austin, offers some spot-on leadership advice in episode 14 of CFO Weekly.
Roy outlines seven things effective leaders do, including sharing your vision and common goals with your followers, having a fundamental purpose besides making money, finding people who share your value and recruiting people who are comfortable with your work culture.
Let’s look closer at all seven components to improve your leadership.
Good Leaders Share Their Vision With Their Followers - How to be an Effective Leader
Would you get into a car with someone who doesn’t know where they’re going? It could be an adventure, but eventually, the novelty wears off and you still don’t know what the point of the trip is.
As a leader, you can’t expect people to follow you just because you’re intelligent or charismatic. You need a vision, a destination. Then, you need to find people who believe in your vision and leadership qualities.
Otherwise, what reason is there for people to follow you?
Great leaders Have a Fundamental Purpose Besides Making Money
This is a big one. There are some people who are motivated by money alone, however, they either aren’t somebody you want to be in business with or they won’t stick around for long.
You should have a fundamental purpose for doing what you’re doing, otherwise, people won’t be motivated to follow you for long. It’s easy to find an employer that pays more — it’s harder to find one that has a strong, fundamental mission.
That’s also why you want to hire employees who get excited about the bigger goal and encourage team members to do their best. They’re the ones who are going to last through the tough times and grow with you.
Find People Who Share Your Values
Roy points out that hiring is a little bit like dating. You want to find someone to communicate openly with, and who values the same things as you. Don’t want a yes-man or gal. Want to see what the person is actually like when they’re not on their best behavior.
When it comes to the most underrated leadership skill of effective leadership: communication skills, you need to ask the right questions to uncover the person’s real values. The sooner you can find out what someone is really like, the better. One way to accomplish this in an interview is to ask the person what they value in life. They could answer with family, hard work, religion, helping others, money, security — any number of things.
Take this approach as opposed to listing off your company’s values and asking if they agree (because you know they’re going to).
Recruit People Who are Comfortable with Your Work Culture
This isn’t an excuse to impose a toxic work culture. Healthy work cultures can come in all different shapes and sizes.
Finding employees who align with your culture is more about how your business operates under your company values and leadership skill.
Say the culture you’ve built encourages people to learn and grow from their mistakes. If you interview a candidate who’s always passing the blame, they probably won’t fit into your culture.
"At some point, as a small business, you have to have the ability to keep and retain employees. That's dependent on you as a leader and creating a climate in which people want to stay," Austin said.
Culture starts at the top. Any effective leader with great leadership abilities understands that culture starts with them. If you find that your organization’s culture isn’t aligning with your values, it’s time to do some introspection consistently recognizing what your goals are.
For example, if one of your values is great customer service, analyze how you personally have been living out that quality.
Provide Reasoning Behind Decisions - Ways to be an Effective Leader
Not all of your followers are going to agree with every decision you make. That’s just the nature of the beast. People get defensive and leaders understand that.
To turn disagreements into constructive feedback, provide the reasoning behind your decision-making. When you give people orders or lines of communication but fail to explain how you came to the conclusion, it’s only natural that people become defensive.
On the other hand, when you provide the details of how you came to your decision, it opens up a channel for communication between followers and leader. Start with two-way communication.
So, it’s actually good when disagreements happen. It leads to inspiration and motivation, and It also means that employees are comfortable with offering input and know their voices are being heard.
"Disagreement is a good thing. You learn nothing from someone who always agrees with you," Austin said.
Show Your Followers That You Care About Them
This can only happen if you have empathy towards your employees. Eventually, people see right through a leader who’s just putting on a show. Soon, the superficial perks (free snacks, happy hours, birthday presents, etc.) give way to the leader’s true intentions.
How to show employees you care:
Understand what motivates and demotivates your employees.
Give credit where credit is due.
Accept responsibility for your mistakes and grow from them.
Listen to your employees.
Give people the resources they need for personal and professional development.
Embrace contrary opinions.
Facilitate open communication.
Little perks are fun, but they’re not going to last long as the foundation of your organization.
Demonstrate Two-way Trust
Another important aspect of a good leader to add to your skill set is knowing that telling someone they can trust you isn’t going to establish trust. You have to show them they can trust you.
To help your employees trust you, follow through on your promises. And, if you make a mistake, own up to it. Your followers should be able to watch you learn and grow from your mistakes.
Your employees also have to know that you trust them.
They need to know that they won’t be reprimanded for petty mistakes as long as they own up to them. Who will they emulate when they make a mistake they need to learn from?
Hopefully, their leader, who they know also makes mistakes sometimes.
Anyone Can be a Leader - Follow the Ways to be an Effective Leader
Everybody who accepts the call to live as an example to others is a leader — whether that be at work, home, or anywhere in between. What kind of leader will you be?
Listen to all the episodes of CFO Weekly on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.