Monday, September 7, 2009

You Can Be the Leader You Were Born to Be

Are you afraid to become a leader because you are afraid of what people will think of you? Do you think you are not “leader material”? Have you ever wanted to make a suggestion or comment and was afraid of what others may think? But then someone else said exactly what you were going to say and it was received well. Here are 7 tips you can use when developing your leadership skills:

1. Meet with your team immediately.

Getting to know your team players is the most important factor to being a leader. Get to know your team member’s strengths and weaknesses. This will provide insight as to how each member will be a strong asset to the team. For example, if a team member is not outspoken, but is proficient in computer software, they would a good person to organize documents. However, don’t ignore their weaknesses, these are just areas that need improvement, suggest ways for members to improve as well as prosper in their own development.

2. Delegate.

Once you know everyone’s strengths, it will be easy to delegate tasks. Set reasonable deadlines and follow-up with each team member. Utilize your team members to the best of their ability. It would be easy to take on a task yourself, but also stressful. Afterall, the Lone Ranger was called “lone” for a reason.

3. Know the difference between follow-up and micromanaging.

Follow-up does not mean frequent phone calls, emails, meetings, or standing over someone’s shoulder. Trust must be developed in the beginning by everyone. Members must be able to trust their leader’s judgment and leaders must trust that their team members will complete the tasks. If deadlines cannot be set, a good practice would be to let team members know when you will be contacting them for a status report.

4. Turn what may seem like criticisms into suggestions.

Remember the old saying, “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Everyone will not agree all the time. Some members are not open to change. Discuss suggestions and decisions with the team as a whole. It is important to accept feedback and reiterate the team’s mission and goals. Provide reasons for the decisions. A response “because I said so” is not a clear motive. However, don’t reinvent the wheel. Do what works!

5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Good leaders acknowledge their mistakes and quickly correct them. Most people are afraid to make mistakes because they may feel incompetent; making mistakes just means there is room for improvement.

6. Develop a plan and set goals.

Creating a plan denotes organization. Setting attainable goals for the team lets each member know the objectives and what is to be expected. The blind cannot lead the blind. Be open to suggestions from the team.

7. Value your team members.

Show your appreciation for each team members’ efforts by taking them to lunch or at the end of the project give a gift of thanks or a certificate of appreciation. Even a periodic “pat on the back” shows you acknowledge their efforts. Members will value your appreciation.

As you develop your leadership style, realize that leaders are visionaries; they have the ability to see what others can’t. Recognize your inner strengths. There is another saying, “Leaders are born, not made.” Since we are all human, we were born; therefore, we are all capable of being leaders.

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