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Effective Leadership Begins with You!

There may not be an “I” in team, but there is an “I” in disengaged.

What does this have to do with leadership? Well, regardless of what, why and where you lead, you — as the leader — are directly responsible for the engagement of those who follow you.  It’s up to you to decide whether you are leading positively or negatively — and whether you choose to focus on engagement or merely output.

Effective leadership results in increased employee happiness, engagement, and retention rates.  But that’s not all. An engaged workforce leads to 17% higher productivity, a 10% increase in customer ratings, a 20% increase in sales, and 21% greater profitability.

Improving leadership is an idea that can be difficult to grasp in tactical or practical ways.

The first step to improving it is to define it.

Leadership is “the act of getting individuals aligned and moving in the same direction toward a desired outcome.”

A key to effective leadership is the ability to define outcomes, but then helping individuals put their talents to use to get there.  The best leaders know their people and are aware of their strengths and also their weaknesses.

This level of leadership is achievable when you work at building the leader-muscles in you. Here’s a quick list of the traits that leaders possess so you can begin exercising these muscles in your next leadership workout:

  1. Self-manage: Make a list in your planner or phone that outlines your goals for the week and how you plan to achieve them. You cannot manage others if you cannot manage yourself.
  2. Good communication: Many of us have heard the phrase “You have two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk.” An effective leader “knows when to talk and when to listen.” Leaders can communicate company goals and tasks to all levels in the organization and can gather information from all levels by listening.
  3. Accountability: A successful manager gives credit where it is due and is not afraid to take responsibility for mistakes made by them or the team. Shifting blame does nothing more than undermine your team. Taking all the praise does the same thing. Leaders evenly distribute both in a respectful manner.
  4. Promote teamwork: When building a team, it is important for the leader to create a culture of teamwork. This is beyond the task of sharing workload, it is also the leader’s skill of team-led problem-solving, communication, and reliability.
  5. Set clear goals with vision: Good employees can follow instructions and complete tasks. Good leaders share vision and good employees are motivated by it. “Vision can be defined as a picture in the leader’s imagination that motivates people to action when communicated compellingly, passionately and clearly.”

Just as you cannot build strong muscles in your body by occasionally going to the gym, you cannot shape leadership muscles by sporadically flexing these traits—you have to work them out daily. By continually doing the hard work of leading a team, you will be able to effectively build your team’s culture of respect and cooperation.

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