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Become An Effective Leader

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 24 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
How To Become An Effective Team Leader

Most of us will have encountered autocratic leaders in the course of our personal or professional lives at some time or another. An autocratic leader is simply one who rules with an ‘iron fist’ and whose rules need to be adhered to and where only their opinion counts. Whilst some might point to the fact that at least you always know where you stand with these types of people, for the most part they rule by instigating fear into others and it’s hardly a happy or productive environment to be in. There are other people who might believe that you have to have a ruthless streak to be a leader but usually this is an opinion that is tied up with a person’s own personal experience. There are, however, many different approaches in how to become an effective leader.

Have A Strategy That Everybody Understands

At its most basic level, a leader will simply be the focal point of a group of people who are all working towards a common goal. In other words, as well as being the leader, you are part of the group too. Therefore, it will be up to you to devise a clearly defined strategy to help the entire group (including yourself) to, ultimately, achieve a specific goal. Therefore, the best way of communicating that to the rest of the team is to keep it as simple and as unambiguous as possible, ensuring that each member of the team understands what you expect of them and likewise, what they can expect of you. Everybody should be clear about what their own role is as well as what the ultimate goal of the team is and, if they don’t, you will need to explain things more simply and clearly.

The Importance Of Creating The Right Environment

There’s no denying that a leadership task won’t ever cause an element of stress - especially in the workplace. For example, there are often deadlines and targets to hit. The important thing to remember here, however, is to harness that stress and pressure into galvanising the team towards achieving their goal. Even pressurised situations don’t have to be serious 100% of the time so try to relieve the tension by incorporating a sense of light-heartedness and fun into the proceedings. People you are leading are far more likely to make mistakes if they feel exhausted through an intense feeling of stress, fear, anxiety and pressure so a good leader will often also need to be a bit of an actor in that you’ll need to keep a cool head and remain calm and approachable even if underneath the surface, your legs are pedalling at a hundred miles an hour, figuratively speaking. In other words, whatever emotions you’re feeling and whatever ‘vibes’ you’re giving off, they’re likely to be matched by those of the rest of the team so if you remain calm and in control, so will the rest of the team.

Encourage The Leader Potential In Each Of Your Team Members

Leaders should not feel threatened by team members so it’s important that you allow your team input into the way things are to be done. Encourage your team to give their viewpoints, to offer alternative solutions for doing things and remember the importance of good delegation. In other words, don’t simply delegate for delegation sake just to demonstrate that you are the leader but use delegation to tap into those different skills and qualities you’ll have identified within each individual within your team and empower them to take responsibility for certain areas of the project. They’ll not only respect you for that but are likely to be twice as productive if you allocate tasks to them to which they are best suited and enjoy and in which they can achieve the most for the team.

In essence, an effective leader is one in which no one individual is more important than the team itself. A good leader should have a happy and well motivated team and will also be able to get the best out of each team member because he or she has identified the strengths and weaknesses of each individual team member and understands the different personalities that make up the team and how to get the best out of them. And yes, whilst for some that may mean giving them the proverbial ‘kick up the backside ‘or cajoling them along, there may be others where the ‘arm around the shoulder’ works best. In other words, an effective leader is able to relate to and get the most out of each individual whilst maintaining the respect of the individual through the leader having equal respect for each team member him or herself.

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