Leadership Lessons: 12 Vital Basics

Defining what makes a good leader is a little like defining what makes a good meal. Everyone will have their own opinions on it, none necessarily right or wrong. So how can we create a baseline for great leadership, allowing for all the variations that come with corporate culture, company objectives and even individual differences? We have narrowed it down to 4 areas of focus and 12 vital basics.

Breaking effective leadership down into 4 areas of clear focus is a great start to creating that baseline. First, leaders need to SUPPORT their employees, meaning provide the tools and resources those employees need in order to be effective. Second, leaders need to be able to MOTIVATE employees to perform at the top of their abilities. Motivation can have a lot to do with goal-setting, but it’s also about morale and the intrinsic need every employee has to succeed.

Then, leaders need to know how to IMPROVE their team members – using constructive feedback, and positive reinforcement, all while seeking out opportunities for each member to contribute both individually and as a group. Finally, leaders must know how to CONNECT with employees in a genuine way, to let people know that they are valued not just as employees but as a positive force within the organization.

So, within those 4 focus areas, where should leaders begin to improve?

The 4 Focus Areas & 12 Vital Basics:

SUPPORT employees:

  • Time Management – leaders need to be productive in the right way, and should be able to differentiate between a task that’s taking up time, versus one that’s actually accomplishing the goal.
  • Conflict resolution – Leaders need to understand what conflict is, and how a great leader sees the ways it can be both negative AND positive. Leaders must learn when to intervene in employee disputes, and how to lead an effective conflict resolution session.
  • Delegation – The best leaders are more able to hit goals on time, and have more productive employees that work together as a team with minimal oversight, all through excellent delegation.

MOTIVATE employees:

  • Praise & recognition – A good leader knows why praise is important in the first place, and is able to choose between formal and informal ways to acknowledge excellence in team members.
  • Trust – Great leaders embrace trust as a vital component of their interactions with employees, and understand that trust and acceptance must be available in both directions in order for employees to be properly motivated.
  • Goal-setting – Leaders know that both short and long-term goals are important for their entire team, and can see the difference between conceptual (destination) vs. operational (task-oriented) goals, and how “working backward” can be the best approach to setting goals.

IMPROVE employees:

  • Change – Great leaders know the 4 critical stages of change, what “change culture” means, and how a great leader can positively affect the change culture of their workplace.
  • Overcoming objections to change – Leaders need to know how to guide team members through the uncertainty of change, as well as knowing how to manage their fears to mitigate resistance. Great leaders can use change to encourage not just acceptance, but full engagement.
  • Coaching – A leader who knows the right way to provide encouragement and feedback can make all the difference for a team trying to reach their goals.

CONNECT with employees:

  • Planned connections – Leaders must learn why it’s important to understand employee opinions, and learn how to encourage employees to share those opinions, without falling into typical conversation pitfalls.
  • Effective listening – The best leaders understand the benefits of listening, and the distinct difference between “hearing” and “listening.” Leaders should know what the common barriers to good listening can be, and have on hand a great checklist of Active Listening Skills.
  • Employee Engagement – Great leaders inherently understand the advantages of an engaged workforce. An understanding of the three degrees of engagement is also helpful, as is knowing the elements that drive that engagement and inspire employees.

These vital basics are by no means the only ways to create great leaders, but they serve as an excellent foundation for the skills that make leadership effective, and teams productive. If you’ve been searching for a way to find and build strong leaders, look no further. We’d love to help you become an employer of choice. Imagine what could happen if you had an effective online leadership training system in place to create leaders and help them learn to support, improve, motivate and connect with employees. Let A Better Leader be a resource for your workplace!

About the Author Chris Craddock

As the leader of Projections' production team, Chris loves to inspire others to perform at the highest levels! From the most challenging leadership opportunities to brainstorming the latest topics leaders want to learn about, Chris provides clear direction and vision.

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