"True leaders understand that leadership is not about them but about those they serve. It is not about exalting themselves but about lifting others up." - Sheri L. Dew, Author
There are many ideas and theories out there of what makes an effective leader. But no matter how intelligent you are, how creative your ideas, or how many skills you possess - when it comes down to it, being a leader is less about you and more about the people you are leading. As Sheri's quote above indicates, achieving success as a leader is about helping your team grow and excel rather than achieving any personal glory.
Treat your people with respect"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou, Author and poet
We've all heard the old adage that people don't leave organizations because of their jobs, they leave because of a poor relationship with their manager. How managers make their employees feel has a lasting effect on how those employees regard the organization, its culture and the career opportunities it provides.
Be mindful of how you communicate with your employees, and work at building a relationship that helps you get to know them as individuals, and that inspires them to succeed. Encourage your team and reinforce good performance by providing ongoing coaching and feedback.
Empathy is key to effective leadership"You manage things; you lead people." - Grace Murray Hopper, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral
The most successful leaders are the ones who demonstrate empathy on a regular basis. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Remember that your employees are not only the gears that keep your company moving forward, they're also people.
Up your empathy quotient to identify important emotional triggers in your people so you can enhance the "highs" and circumvent the "emotional lows." Doing so makes you more aware of important cues from your employees and colleagues on what is and isn't working. It allows you to spot opportunities to express gratitude and give positive feedback, and it can help you see when you need to stop and listen.
Be a leader your team can trust"Presenting leadership as a list of carefully defined qualities (like strategic, analytical and performance-oriented) no longer holds. Instead, true leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed... Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection." - Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook
Being an effective leader means being someone your employees trust and feel comfortable approaching with ideas, feedback, concerns, etc. It is important to build trust with your employees - trust is something that must be actively earned. It is also important to be able to regain trust when it is lost.
Build trust with your team by "walking your talk", letting your team know you don't know everything, and taking ownership for mistakes. No one expects you to be perfect, but owning it when you've made a bad call or don't know the answer to a challenge, reinforces your honesty which will only increase the trust of your team.
Celebrate, respect, and appreciate your people
International Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate, respect and appreciate women. Similarly, as these phenomenal women leaders show, as a leader it is important to celebrate, respect and appreciate your people. Effective leadership is about how you as a leader can empower your team to achieve success. If you respect and serve the people you lead, they will do the same for you.
Your turn: What other traits do you think make an effective leader?