Effective leadership is something that most leaders would aspire to. But effective leadership can mean different things, to different people.
Is it showing effective leadership to get work done at any cost? To leave a pile of broken bodies behind you to achieve your goals? I don’t think so.
So let’s take a look at the Thoughtful Leader definition of effective leadership.
Effective Leadership Defined
Effective leadership is about setting a clear direction for where you want to go, supporting your team to improve performance and focusing your effort on the right things.
Setting a clear direction ensures that you are “starting with the end in mind” and taking time to look ahead at what’s coming, and how you can improve. Without this, you’ll tend to take a more reactive rather than proactive approach.
Supporting your team means that what you’re doing is sustainable. You’re not burning people out, you are resolving issues, helping them improve their skills and clearing roadblocks.
Focusing your effort on the right things is important to make sure that you aren’t wasting time or energy on work that doesn’t really matter. This ensures that you are able to accomplish your important goals faster.
What to Start Doing Today to Show Effective Leadership
Given our definition of effective leadership, here are four things that you can start doing today, to make your aspiration become reality.
1. Start Pushing Back On Low Value Work
There is never any shortage of tasks that we can work on, but not all of them are equal.
There are many tasks that provide little value and take significant effort. Sometimes, it’s because “That’s the way we’ve always done it”.
When we start to become a bit more vigilant about how we spend our time, we start to question the value of each of our tasks. Some of the questions to ask are:
- Who cares about this work?
- Does anybody actually use this widget / document / system?
- Is there a way we can do this better or easier?
Take a look at your task list and ask these questions today. You’ll probably start to see something that you can stop doing, or start doing better.
Tip: If you struggle to manage up and push back on unreasonable demands, Thoughtful Leader can help. Check out the Managing Upwards eBook, for tools and techniques to build confidence and help you say “No”. You and your team deserve better… try the eBook today.
2. Create a Clear Direction For Your Team
It’s easy to get stuck in the hustle and bustle of work. Unless you take the time to stand up and look around, you’ll be buried in the mud, reacting to problems as they occur.
Now that you’ve started to get rid of your low value work, you should have time to set the direction for your team.
A direction for your team can mean many things. It doesn’t need to be a complicated strategy. It may be that you simply need to imagine a future where your team is better than it is today.
The direction for your team may include the following aspects:
- Improvements in the way your team functions
- New services that your team will provide; or
- Better ways of interacting with other parts of your workplace.
Take the time to set a direction today, and communicate it to your team. Then you can focus your effort on getting there.
3. Start Working On a Problem That is Bothering Your Team
Sometimes we put up with a lot of things at work. Bad systems, poor collaboration or ongoing team issues. The problem is that this damages morale and motivation in our teams.
Whether it’s getting rid of a long-standing roadblock, or fixing something that is frustrating your team, you can start looking at it today.
Get your team to help you work through the problem and get a plan together.
Working together to solve an issue as a team is a great way to show effective leadership and bring you closer together.
4. Take Time to Find Out How Your Team Members Are Feeling
Sometimes, we don’t take the necessary time to understand how our team members are feeling.
Are they under pressure, feeling overwhelmed? Or perhaps unmotivated, bored and becoming jaded?
Maybe they’re just fine. But it’s important to regularly keep in touch with your team members to ensure you are providing the support you need.
Instead of just speaking to them when you want something, set some time to have a conversation about what they’re working on, how they are feeling and what you can do to help them.
Try getting out of your normal work environment and going down the road for coffee.
Sometimes, the most open and honest conversations happen when we’re away from the normal workplace tensions.
What do you think effective leadership means? And what are your top ways to start demonstrating effective leadership? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below!
Alternatively, if you would like to ask a question or need some help, you can send me a private message through my contact page.