Great leadership is something most managers and quite possibly most people aspire to. Being a great leader means identifying ambitious goals for your organization, inspiring team members to follow you, and accomplishing as a group what you set out to do.
While there are many aspects and approaches for how to do those things, the basics remain the same. At Building Champions, our executive coaches focus on great leadership by addressing 4 key skills.
Make great decisions
The first aspect of great leadership is making the right decisions for you and your team members. If you regularly identify the wrong goals or take the wrong approach, people may choose not to follow you down the road, if not right away.
Decisions need to be well thought out rather than impulsive. While not all managers embrace the practice, great leaders understand their decisions are made better by input from others. When others are allowed to provide perspective, you are far less likely to move forward on a plan that is heavily influenced by your own biases. Team members are certainly part of that process, as are leaders and maybe even friends and family members. But nothing beats the expertise and perspective of an executive coach, who can advise objectively and without preconceived notions. Great leaders recognize the value of listening to other voices and tempering their responses with the input of a mentor.
“A coach is someone who understands the business and the company, and who can give you an unbiased perspective to help you get even better results in your leadership and your life,” says Martin Daum, who currently serves as a member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and the head of the Daimler Trucks and the Daimler Buses Divisions.
Many people see the ability to influence as a trait to which people are born, never considering it a skill which can be developed. They see it as something others are good at or not and generally decide rather early on whether or not they have that ability.
But great leaders, even those for whom it largely comes naturally, will tell you they never stop trying to improve on their ability to lead their team members well. They read and study other great leaders, trying different approaches to determine which of these methods suit their personality and style. This can be a tricky process, however, as most of us lack accurate insight into how others see us.
An executive coach can help us identify our own stumbling blocks and learn how better to influence our team members. This requires both intentional prioritization of time with your team, individually and in groups, as well as a genuine concern for their personal and professional well-being. But it also means you have to be able to move past interpersonal conflicts and differences in styles and ideas. Great leaders learn how to connect with and get the best out of each team member, even those who are not like them.
Lead with confidence
We have likely all experienced the overconfident leader who is frequently wrong but never in doubt. Likewise, we’ve probably known the individual with great ideas and potential who could never quite manage to speak up and be heard or get things done. Great leadership requires the right amount of confidence to be able to inspire others as well as admit when you don’t have all the answers.
Confidence allows you to inspire your team with a vision and get them to buy in on moving from where they are now to where you want them to go. It enables you to be comfortable knowing you’ve done your homework and stand behind the recommendations you’re making.
True confidence also means not being afraid to get it wrong and being able to own the outcomes when you do. It means being vulnerable and honest without allowing mistakes to undermine your willingness to make decisions and lead. The confident leader responds to difficulties calmly and steps forward to lead the team through the trying situation.
Confidence allows you to take things in stride when others challenge you and respond to them without becoming defensive. It means you can say no when you know someone else is wrong or when they’re expecting you to spend time on efforts that aren’t aligned with your goals. It lets you hear other people’s ideas and input with an open mind. Real confidence means you are willing to change your mind when you genuinely believe someone else’s idea will take the team further than yours.
Someone can have all the charm and charisma in the world, but if they can’t deliver for the organization, eventually people will stop following their lead. Team members want to be part of a team that’s accomplishing something, and those leaders are the ones they will choose to follow.
It can be quite difficult, however, to know where your time is best spent. Between personal and business demands, life can get overwhelming quickly, and it can feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Many people find they need the seasoned, objective voice of an executive coach to move past the stress of trying to do it all and the guilt of failing to do so. That coach can help them figure out what’s most important to them and identify detailed and specific action plans for getting there, then provide accountability for the results.
Great leaders focus their time carefully and spend their energy intentionally. They spend time getting to know their team members personally and professionally, understanding what’s important to them and what helps them be successful. They value their team members’ contributions and show them they are important to the group. They carefully and thoughtfully decide on the strategic direction for their team, then use their knowledge and forethought to make decisions quickly. They say no when others try to derail them with less important projects or distractions. And they recognize when they would benefit from the help of a mentor or coach.
Becoming a Successful Leader
Are you a good leader who wants to become a great leader? We can help. Check out our website to learn more about our coaching offerings.