Leaders, especially those in medium-sized to larger businesses, are involved in a myriad of affairs that utilize a wide range of skill sets. At the same time, having so many responsibilities is also taxing on physical and mental resources.
In this article, we will show you the essentials to not only make it as a leader in today and tomorrow’s business environment but how to be wildly successful. We will talk about the specific tools you need as well as concrete approaches you can incorporate into your work routines.
1. Documented Routines To Facilitate Personal Organisation
All businesses have general documentation. Some outline the company mission and values. Others describe company processes. However, many high-powered leaders also have documentation that focuses on their own processes. That is, documentation about what the individual leader does day-to-day will help manage the responsibilities and stress of being in such a prominent position.
The extreme organization is required of a true leader in a business or corporation. Careful planning and organizing should also be goal-oriented and purposeful. Thus, having documented routines that facilitate these processes is essential for success, especially as it relates to how a leader personally spends his or her time at work.
As a leader, when you are documenting your routines, you should focus on a few areas of your day and interactions:
A Personal Project List. Make sure you have a list of all the big projects you are personally involved in. In the list, you should have an outline of the scope of the project as well as any concrete actions that need to be taken by you. In fact, having a list of the most recent next action will help you stay on track. This should be updated at regular intervals. Depending on the project, this may be every day or even every few hours.
Communication. Have a list of documented routines involving communication. Such a list is particularly helpful when dealing with clients at higher levels, and especially if you are managing a team behind a project might look like:
- Personally, email client informed of the state of the project
- Email relevant team members of next actions
- The following day, check-in with team members
- Update client if necessary
That is just one example. Other routines that might be useful to have in place include checking up on clients after a product is complete. In terms of non-client communication, having routines to communicate with employees might be important as well. For example, you might send a weekly update to everyone, or schedule one-on-one meetings with key members, and thus having communication for that is important.
Daily Job Maintenance Tasks. These routines detail your on-the-ground activity, especially ones that you have to do every day. When do you check email? What sort of process do you use? When you get into your office, if you work in one, what needs to be done first? Before lunch, what sort of communication do you need to complete? Having actual checklists for these will help you make sure you are not missing any important points or steps.
2. Systematic Professional Development
A leader is a life-long learner. In a position where others look up to you for guidance and development, sometimes it may be hard for you to develop yourself. However, if you fail to stop learning, you will soon find that your skills are quickly out-of-date and not applicable in a world where regulations and policies can quickly change.
Thus, it is important to have systematic professional development. That is, it should not be random, but planned. Set regular of intervals on your calendar for your own development every month, and during set times of the year when bigger events may occur. Moreover, carving out learning time is important as well.
Professional development comes in all forms. Simple workshops with the professional organizations in your field that you belong to occur monthly and allows you to develop discrete skills quickly. Also, attending workshops helps you interact with colleagues in the same field as well as those who might be in other positions of a company, thereby widening your viewpoint.
Every year, there are a number of conferences as well, and I am sure you are aware of the large ones in your field. As a leader, these conferences are quite important in terms of networking and professional development as new ideas start their circulation in conferences usually.
Lastly, in terms of professional development, carving out learning time is important. In the past, learning took time and physical effort. Nowadays, online learning courses offer a convenient way to develop skills. Whether you are in the office or at home, you can take your time to learn new skills from experts.
These online courses also offer another important advantage because they help your qualifications and certificates. Even though you may be based in Australia, many organizations such as the MCI Institute offer online certificate courses for those based in the area that results in you gaining a valid Australian accredited qualification that increases your authority in the eyes of both colleagues and those you manage.
3. Honing Creativity Skills
Leaders are creative and innovative and make sure you keep these skills up-to-date are important. As leaders constantly have to deal with new situations and clients, creativity and innovation are key.
Basically, honing creativity skills is a matter of practice. Practice thinking outside the box and think of strange solutions. However, trying new things entails that you understand the systems, processes, and knowledge structures that are already set in place. Therefore, being able to see the angles of a range of issues is important. Again, systematic professional development and learning, especially online learning, will help you see the newest angles of a situation.
4. Genuine Reflection
True leaders systematically reflect, as well. They do so at the end of the workday to see where their high points and low points were so that when they do set goals for the next day, they do so effectively. Leaders also reflect at the end of the week and at the end of the month.
Reflection is not simply a way to identify what went wrong or well. It is a way for you to make constant adjustments because what can be considered to have gone wrong depends on circumstances, so understanding the underlying causes is important.
Again, set up intervals of reflections as well as routines. Having a template for reflection can be very useful as well, but simply journaling and identifying common themes can be effective. Constantly reflecting will also help you think on your feet and help you hone your creativity and innovation, an important skill that we mentioned in the previous in the point.
5. Authentic Communication Skills
True leaders are extremely effective communicators. In fact, communication might be the number one skill because leaders have to constantly deal with people management in a way that is both effective and timely. Leaders deal with the people they manage, clients, business partners, and more, and being able to be in the right mode of communication at the right time is important.
There are a few steps you can take to really up to your communication skills. First, participate in many social events. This seems simple, but many people go to social events without really thinking of how it benefits them. When going to social events and mingling, learn how to listen carefully to what others have to say and being able to understand their positions. Moreover, the more experience you have, the more tact you will gain that you can use to deal with people in higher-stakes situations.
Second, join organizations that are specifically aimed at improving communication. For example, there are organizations such as toastmasters, discussion groups, etc., where people talk about new ideas but also work on the craft of communication itself. In these organizations, you participate in debate and discussions where you can sharpen up your beliefs and arguments, but also learn how to express them in a way where genuine learning occurs and in a way that causes others to take action effectively, something you want your own employees to do.
Lastly, communication is not limited to oral skills but also writing skills. Even simple processes like email writing and other electronic communication are important. As a leader, you set an example of great communication in all its forms, and being able to do so will help. Again, taking online learning courses or online certificate courses will help you target these efficiently.
6. A Source of Inspiration
Lastly, a true, successful leader is a source of inspiration. All the tips that have been given above have been aimed at making you an example of how to get things done effectively, how to communicate with people, and how to constantly improve. Being that sort of individual will help you become a source of inspiration.
At the same time, being proactive at inspiring and motivating people is important as well. While it is easy to say “Good job!” or “Well done!”, true leaders do more than utter empty compliments. True leaders work with the people they manage, as well as others, to really identify what was done well and how to improve it, thereby cultivating the desire to want to do better and really deliver top quality service.
You might not be in a leadership position now, but it is never too soon to develop leadership skills, especially the six essential ones listed above. Apply the tips above, work hard, and watch yourself become invaluable to those around you, your company, the clients you work with, and more.