Since our childhood, we regularly assess leadership. Sure, now a boss determines your daily tasks instead of your mom, but both sway your concept of leading. Many of us will one day manage a team or entire company, but feel unprepared when that moment comes. Consider what type of leader you want to be along the way and maybe it will happen faster than expected.
Enable, coach, drive, inspire, motivate and delegate – we all heard these words at leadership or management training. Most agree that these define a successful leader, but the tools to achieve such badges are forged, not handed over. Learning to lead starts years before any formal training. The cycle of follower-to-leader is centuries, even millennia, old. However, not everyone hits the mark since becoming a leader is a mindset developed throughout your entire life.
We all experienced different types of leadership and their effect on our mindset, motivation and outlook. By tracking the habits and actions of our leaders alongside our emotions, we can determine what causes both positive and negative reactions. Your awareness around what works better as a report will heighten, which erases certain doubts when assuming a leadership position, yourself.
Leadership style depends on several factors including experience, team and company. When your time comes, it could be with a new company or employees from different generations. In this case, defining what you believe overtime and realising its shifts helps to be more flexible. Your opinion over leadership evolves throughout your career - what worked five years ago in your first company might not work in your current one. Leadership is as much about your beliefs as it is properly applying those beliefs.
We quickly forget how it feels to be managed, or mismanaged. Remembering these emotions will help you empathise with your reports when you assume leadership. I wrote these reactions and stories down. It surprised me how much I discarded from memory and how powerful a small note can be to reinvigorate a feeling. By considering how you want people to feel under you - whether it’s motivated, fulfilled, intimidated or secure – will drive your approach.
Let me tell you about the type of leader I want to become. My approach in three words would read: inclusive, effective and calm. Whether it’s a team activity or social gathering, making everyone feel welcome is a longstanding belief. Inclusive means letting people know why they might or might not be involved; giving credit where credit is due and creating an open atmosphere to share unedited ideas. An effective leader reads company culture to find its strengths and structure to get things done. It requires conviction, planning and consistency. Calm is the last on the list, but the most important. Most business situations are better handled with a clear mind. An overdose of emotion clouds judgement and leaves negative impressions with collaborators.
By identifying these traits, I already started working on becoming a leader, much like you can. On the path to learning and enforcing new methods, current behaviours will take time to unlearn. Whether it takes five weeks or five years to consistently demonstrate your leadership approach, a clear goal keeps us focused. It will not happen instantaneously, or without decisiveness. We have all experienced great and not-so-great leadership. Those great leaders we admire and hope to become committed to a leader mindset way before taking on their monumental position.