How to Be a True Leader and a Better Manager
By Claudia Vandermilt
Are you a hard-working manager aspiring to advance in your career? To get to the next level, you need to transform management skills into leadership skills. Read on for tips to help you become a leader who inspires teams and impresses executives in any industry.
Skills to Set a Leader Apart
You’ve probably observed that in a difficult economy, companies will retain and promote only their top managers – those who not only possess excellent management skills, but exemplify the best qualities of leaders, too. The good news is that leadership skills can be developed, if you know where to focus your efforts.
What Skills Make a Leader Stand Out From the Crowd?
- Great leaders learn every day – from everyone.
A leader is an effective listener.
Leaders embrace the past when planning for the future.
Leaders help everyone feel like part of the solution.
Leaders are optimistic and model positive behavior.
The secret to being a great leader is understanding this: Leadership is a way of bringing people together to accomplish a goal. It means people trust you – and you earn their trust over and over again.
How to Turn Leadership Skills Into Actions
Outstanding management skills are vital to any manager’s career – but will take you only so far. If you’re aiming for a higher target – such as a director-level or senior executive role – you’ll need to develop outstanding leadership skills, too.
Learn from staff and customers every day. Frequent check-ins foster clear communication. This can be accomplished through short staff meetings on a regular basis and an open-door management policy. In addition, soliciting feedback from customers or clients is the best way to improve processes or take care of problems.
Listen, then speak. You cannot hear when you’re doing all the talking. Effective listening takes practice, but you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to the people you lead, your customers and your supervisors. For employees, knowing their leader is listening is an instant morale booster. Customers who feel heard will spread the news about your company’s great service. And upper management will see the difference in your team’s productivity.
Learn from the past. Your company was successful before you joined it. Learn what your predecessors did well, and find out what worked and what didn’t. Embrace the past as you look toward the future.
Invite staff to be part of the solution. Ask your team for ideas. Encourage their creativity. Reward them for successes. Being part of the solution is inspiring and makes people feel valued.
Be optimistic. Leadership means focusing on the positive, and helping others to do the same. Bossy leaders who issue orders while focusing on the negative are a thing of the past. Effective leaders know that inspiring others starts with optimism.
Advantages of Being a Leader in Your Workplace
Combine outstanding management skills with leadership qualities and you’ll see improvement in these areas:
- Morale: A happier workplace is one where team members are listened to and feel valued.
Productivity: Higher morale boosts productivity. Workers who trust their leadership feel better about their company and achieve more.
Quality: Leaders help people feel proud of their contributions and inspire them to continually improve.
Efficiency: Leaders who ask for feedback learn how to make processes more efficient.
Revenue: When morale, productivity, quality and efficiency improve, higher sales numbers are likely to follow.
Advance Your Career by Developing Leadership, Management and Organizational Skills
Rising to the top of the corporate ladder is a dream for many – but it can be a reality for you, if you enhance your management skills, develop leadership qualities and hone your organizational abilities. All three areas are essential for managers who want to advance in their careers.
Five Quick Ways to Develop Leadership Skills
- Evaluate your values, beliefs and ethics.
Demonstrate your values every day.
Show people you believe in them.
Ask people how you can help them succeed.
Repeat steps 1 through 4.
Claudia Vandermilt is a skilled project manager with experience in internet marketing, travel, consumer goods and home necessities. She’s earned certificates in Applied Project Management and Advanced Certificate in Applied PM from Villanova and continues furthering her education and experience in project management across industries.