12 Steps to Be an Effective Leader in Everything You Do

No one is born a leader. We simply learn leadership qualities and strive to improve ourselves every day. Here is how you can build your leadership skills.

Anyone who’s worked under an ineffective leader understands the immense cost of poor leadership.

An ineffective forerunner can put you off, leaving you demoralized and demotivated. This, in turn, may make you less productive and unable to achieve your goals.

On the other hand, working with an effective leader means happier and more engaged team members. In business setups, engaged employees are 17% more productive, which could increase sales and productivity by 20% and 21%, respectively.

While effective leadership is crucial, the idea mostly seems elusive. What does effective leadership entail? And how can anyone learn the art of leadership?

Are Effective Leaders Born or Made?

I’ll begin by addressing this common question about whether investing your energy and time to build your leadership effectiveness is sensible. Because why waste your energy on self-development if leaders are born with inherent attributes that one can’t develop?

It’ll be like fighting a battle you’ve already lost.

Fortunately, leaders are mostly made. While some leadership aspects are more natural to some, research shows it’s possible to develop a majority of leadership qualities. 

In other words, anyone can be an effective leader. You simply need to be committed and put in the work. This is great news since most critical leadership skills have changed over time.

So what makes a good leader?

Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. In fact, you’ll yield better results if you lead from your unique strengths than when you try emulating other leaders. Generally, you need these attributes to be a good leader:

  • Effective communicator
  • Accountable
  • Humble
  • Resilient
  • Trusting
  • Flexible
  • Transparent
  • Passionate
  • Courageous
  • Empathetic
  • Patient
  • Respectful
  • Focused
  • Innovative
  • Problem-solver

How to Lead Effectively in Everything You Do

You can – and should – learn and develop leadership traits and skills. The specific attributes you need to lead effectively can adapt to the times. While inclusivity can positively affect your entire team, the following steps can take you closer to where you want to be:

Practice discipline

The first rule of leadership is discipline, the only way to boost your effectiveness and encourage team members to be disciplined as well. Typically, subordinates and other executives will judge your capacity by the discipline you display.

You can demonstrate discipline by always keeping appointments, meeting deadlines, and concluding meetings promptly. This can be hard for anyone who’s “naturally disorganized.” 

However, you can start small by implementing valuable habits at home, like daily workouts and waking up early, and work your way up.  

Practice Honest, Open communication

An open line of communication is among the pillars of effective leadership. The individuals working under you should learn from your transparency and honesty.

Influential leaders are always straightforward. Your organization and the team members working under you are a reflection of yourself. If you prioritize ethics and honesty as key values, they’ll emulate the same.

It’s also essential to tailor your communication and interactions based on individual preferences to suit any situation or team member. Besides figuring out the most appropriate communication styles, you should also be a great listener, naturally interested in other people’s views.

Such transparency and active communication skills can improve team members’ morale and build trust.  

Be Resilient

You must be able to demonstrate strength even in the most challenging times. This is a make-or-break trait for organizational leaders.

The need for resilient leaders was especially true at the peak of COVID-19 when team members had compounding concerns regarding their financial future, health, and disruption.

As a resilient leader, you can recover quickly after a failed attempt because you consider failure a temporary setback. You’ll maintain your team’s focus as you move forward and exploit the opportunities the crisis presents instead of just seeing the losses or challenges.

Resilience also boosts your self-control; you’ll deal with your team members as a coach, not a boss. You’ll be adept at foreshadowing the roles that will go extinct, hence can guide team members on the essential skills.

Understand Members’ Needs

Influential leaders acknowledge that their members have needs and must do their best to address them. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs, security, and survival are at the pyramid’s lowest point. But in the corporate world, this translates to compassion, hope, trust, and stability.

When you have a strong sense of integrity, you’ll quickly earn respect and trust of junior team members. Ultimately, understanding and compassion will yield loyalty, while consistency and fairness go a long way in ensuring a work environment of stability.

Be Accountable

Accountability requires you to be answerable for your own results, whether bad or good. Always give credit when things are going well, and avoid pointing fingers when there are setbacks. Mistakes are inevitable; when this happens, you should admit to them and consider this an opportunity to learn and improve yourself.

An accountable leader will motivate team members to adopt the same. When you catch and redirect errors early, the entire organization will effectively change course. Of course, you must hold other team members accountable, but this doesn’t translate to criticizing or blaming them. It simply means setting clear goals, following up, and acting appropriately.

Invest In Strengths

You must be able to invest in and manage the strengths of your respective team members. Your team will likely experience deficient engagement levels when you ignore their capabilities.

On the other hand, focusing on members’ strengths will significantly boost their engagement. This is possible because staff development plans that focus on their capabilities always lead to target behavior deviations. Other positive outcomes of investing in team members’ strengths include:

  • Higher productivity levels
  • A more engaged team
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Reduced turnover

Plan For The Future

An effective leader also identifies and manages the leaders of the future. Crises often reveal high performers who are competent, skilled, and dedicated to addressing left-field hurdles and leading other team members to find practical solutions. You should reward these individuals and have their achievements recognized.

Besides a crisis, only a few situations can test a leader’s capabilities. You’ll easily steer them through tough times by always remembering your role and powerful influence on all team members in your organization.

Give Direct Feedback About Performance.

Honest, direct feedback is an ideal way to guide team members in the right direction. Without being direct, members won’t know where the company is headed or areas where they need to improve. You must also know where the team is headed.

Giving constructive performance reviews and feedback involves highlighting team members’ accomplishments. Let someone know they’ve done something great, celebrate their achievement, and thank them for their effort. Such positive recognition will boost productivity.

Ask For Feedback As Well

Honest feedback also benefits you, the leader. It may be challenging to conduct an accurate self-assessment of your leadership skills. Therefore, fellow professionals, mentors, and your team members are invaluable in giving you a vivid picture of your effectiveness. 

You can also get the perspective of family members, friends, and peers regarding your leadership style.

All these people can offer crucial insight into the things that work and those that don’t. You’ll also know the hurdles you need to beat to be successful.  

Be Proactive

You must be a bold leader with adequate skills to engage employees and drive results. But this doesn’t involve aggression. Instead, it should radiate self-confidence.

Bold leaders can grab their bosses’ attention and enforce policies and rules professionally with subordinates. You may face fierce competition and criticism, but you shouldn’t fear expressing your views, making mistakes, or expressing your apology whenever you go wrong.

Leaders who are confident and proactive enough to push the limits while humbly accepting advice can triumph in any company or position.

Find Your Higher Purpose

Being a good leader also involves knowing why you invest your effort and time into a particular goal. What keeps you going? Your response may be straightforward: the prestige of a higher rank or better pay for a perfectly done job.

But step back for a moment. What impact does the large paycheck have? Does it make your family feel more secure? Or maybe you took up leadership to help others by providing their needed services or products.

You’ll begin operating as a knowledgeable, empowering, and confident leader when you identify your higher purpose.

Maintain A Positive Attitude

While leaders often crave smooth-running day-to-day operations, they’re bound to encounter occasional obstacles. Whether it’s a significant error or a simple miscommunication, how you handle the negative situation clearly depicts your leadership skills.

So always focus on the good. Ideally, find three positive things about the challenging situation before identifying the elements that make it dissatisfying. The more you see positivity in a hurdle, the more positively you’ll react with team members. 

Final Thoughts

Leadership qualities aren’t mystical, and anyone can improve their leadership effectiveness by nurturing some vital skills.

Remember that it takes time to be a good leader. While some people may have a natural inclination to possess excellent leadership skills, anyone can train and improve upon their leadership capabilities. You’ll easily lead your team to success with dedication, hard work, and strategic planning.