Effective leaders have certain decisiveness about them. They are measured but solid and very assured. While a few may have been born with some gifted attributes, the vast majority worked on their personality.
Here are some mantras that you can keep in mind as you transform your leadership mindset:
1. Look to be respected, not loved
Most people fall into the trap of pleasing everyone. The moment you try to do that, you lose. If you have to disagree based on your knowledge, experience or value system, do so but politely. Make it about the task and not the person. You will earn more respect that way. The people that matter want honest opinions and not just another “yes” in the mix.
Fighting your corner, making your point or standing your ground supported by valid and well thought out points will enable you to earn respect.
2. Get results
Very often I have seen work or projects that just meander and do not reach their end-point. As an effective leader, you should work towards getting results. This could also mean completing tasks and assignments. Once you get into the habit of not leaving things unfinished, you build a reputation for yourself. One who is known to finish tasks becomes an indispensable team member. And we know that good leaders are good team members as well.
3. Make decisions
How often have you thought that if only someone could step up and make a decision? While some leaders simply keep collecting opinion after opinion and suggestion after suggestion, others simply keep flitting from one decision to the other. Still others just sit still and maintain status quo, waiting for time to resolve the issue and not have the discomfort of making a decision.
Effective leaders make decisions. Sure, every once in a while you may make the wrong decision. The only person who never makes a wrong decision is the person that never makes a decision!
4. Win over people – create loyalties
Effective leaders create loyalties. They have the knack of understanding people’s needs and fears and help overcome them. They remember the things close to their team members’. They perform favors for people, straightaway without even being asked. They stay with the team, put others before themselves and lead by example.
5. Influence other people’s behavior
Remember the Pygmalion effect? Effective leaders practice and become good at influencing others’ behavior by changing their own.
6. Clear understanding of task
Effective leaders know exactly what is to be achieved. They know the milestones, the resources required to get there and the quality of output that is desired. “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”, so it is important to know the destination first, then chalk out the path to get there, and finally execute the path.
7. Clear understanding of roles
Clarity of roles is of paramount importance. Nothing is more confusing than team members not knowing who is responsible for what. You may end up with two people treading on each other’s toes, while other tasks are unattended.
Effective leaders not only understand their own role, they also clearly communicate to each team member their exact roles in the mission.
8. Build strong teams
By winning over team members, having the ability to influence others’ behavior and clearly understanding the task on hand, effective leaders are able to build very strong teams using the resources available. As a leader, for every task or project you should be able to identify one or two key roles and then fill them with the appropriate resource. Once you find a good resource, position him or her for success and then get out of the way.
9. Be morally correct
Once at a cricket match, the official umpire had to attend to an important task and left the field for a half-hour. To ensure timely progress, we allowed the batting team to appoint an umpire. It so happened that the person who stood as standby umpire had to make a very contentious call. He happened to be their captain. I was very surprised when he made the correct call, even though it went against his own team. They weathered the setback and came back to win the game. However, that one action by the captain simply won me over. He epitomized the maxim of being morally correct. Later on he explained to me that winning that one game was miniscule in the grand scheme of things. I learnt a great lesson that day.
Effective leaders look far beyond the little things. Being morally correct is the single biggest hallmark of a great leader.
10. Lead by example
Leaders should lead and that too by example. There is no better way to groom a new team member than by showing him or her exactly how a certain thing is done correctly. Coaching, mentoring and guiding are traits of effective leaders.
11. Stand by certain principles
Mahatma Gandhi stood for non-violence. Even in the face of great adversity the great man would never resort to violence. That was his value system, his principle. Every leader has his or her own value system and principles that they stand for. It can be as simple as being punctual, being organized or even standing by what you believe is correct. Your team and folks around you will very quickly recognize your values. You will gain admiration and these will become your defining attributes.
12. Be disciplined
I’d say leaders must be disciplined. Discipline has many dimensions. Keeping good time, staying organized, staying clean, staying calm under pressure are all traits of discipline. Folks find it easy to follow a disciplined person. If you are disciplined, you are well on your way to becoming an effective leader.