It’s relatively easy to spot good leadership when it’s happening, but that doesn’t mean all good leadership looks or sounds the same. As a skill, leadership isn’t always as easy to master as every other skill that requires specific knowledge.
Good leadership is a lot more ambiguous, and becoming an effective business leader isn’t a linear path, or one that’s easy to master.
There’s also always room for improvement when it comes to leadership, and improvement can also happen at different levels – from senior management to individual contributors.
There’s no need for someone to manage an entire team of people in order to be perceived as a leader. There are a number of types of individual contributors that are considered to be effective business leaders. To get projects done, it’s often the task of one person to influence an entire organization. Having employees who are confident in their ability to convince stakeholders that what they are doing matters is important for companies.
Some of the essential skills for leaders as individual contributors include time management, communication, collaboration, and independence.
Individual contributors also need to remain flexible and empathetic , must communicate their vision, and should listen actively to other teams while not actually leading a team in a traditional sense.
Managers can develop or strengthen key leadership skills by requesting frequent feedback from anyone who directly reports to them, as well as from their superiors.
Feedback is the best way to determine which areas need to be improved on. To solicit good feedback, it’s best to ask actionable and clear questions with examples. As leaders, managers also need to take the time to reflect on different situations in order to figure out how they can change their behavior in the future.
Effective leaders are the first people to admit to their mistakes. Managers also need to figure out their management styles in order to uncover any inherent strengths and weaknesses in them.
The job description of senior managers is quite different from lower level managers because they’re leading a team of managers instead of a team of employees. Effective leaders in senior management positions have to know how to ask the right questions, which can be done in skip-level meetings.
Those meetings can help senior managers determine in which areas they need to improve, as well as the way a team can be improved overall, by solving any inefficiencies and overcoming challenges. Senior managers also have the responsibility to identify and coach future leaders to ensure a company is prepared with other leaders that are able to drive positive changes.
Senior leaders also have to be inspiring and motivational to their departments, and should share their visions about the future of the company. Another essential leadership skill for senior managers is staying up to date with all the industry changes and the competitive landscape overall. This skill includes being able to find new ways of providing solutions to customers.
The best way to achieve that is through active listening and asking the right questions, which will help leaders figure out any weaknesses or gaps inside their company.