As learning executives search for development opportunities for their company’s future leaders, it may be prudent to first step back to ascertain what current leaders lack.
For example, research by the Center for Hispanic Leadership in March found that 65 percent of leaders director level and below are unqualified. The study said they lack people skills, self-awareness, team-building skills, coaching aptitude, trustworthiness, critical thinking, problem-solving acumen, patience, communication skills and, perhaps most importantly, executive presence.
How do learning leaders move the needle and create more effective leaders? By being effective leaders themselves — even if it means making tough decisions.
But having solid decision-making abilities is only part of what makes successful leaders. They must also be masterful at deciphering business patterns, mitigating hardships, finding unexpected opportunities in dire situations and serving the people they lead.
Here are the 10 things learning leaders can do to become more effective leaders:
Successful leaders are expert decision-makers. They can help foster discussion to enable employees to come to a strategic conclusion but will also step in to make the tough calls if needed. They understand the importance of remaining focused to sustain momentum, make things happen and steer clear of landmines that will derail them on their road to success.
Manage Issues Head-On
Successful leaders grab the bull by the horns and get right down to the nitty-gritty to figure out the core of the issue at hand. They don’t put it off; instead, they thrive on last-minute, high-pressured situations.
Push People to Think Beyond the Obvious
Successful leaders know their team’s strengths and weaknesses. They know how to challenge those areas that need the most development. Above all, they encourage colleagues to reach beyond the obvious solutions.
Be a Great Teacher
Even though successful leaders are great students, they are also great teachers. They keep their employees on their toes with knowledge about industry trends, statistics and the economy. Successful leaders never stop teaching because they are so self-motivated to learn themselves. They take the time to mentor their employees and even sponsor those who have proven they are ready and determined to advance.
Successful leaders are not territorial; instead, they seek to build mutually beneficial relationships with others. Successful leaders associate themselves with “lifters and other leaders” — the types of people who can broaden their sphere of influence not only for their own advancement but that of others. They share the fruits of their labor to help build momentum for those around them.
Be Clear About Expectations
Successful leaders are extremely proficient communicators. They provide clear direction as to what is expected from an employee’s performance and how best to deliver in alignment with the organization’s core values and mission statement.
Do What You Say
This is one area that lacks consistency. However, successful leaders know that actions speak louder than words. They know that they are under the looking glass all the time; any stumble will be seen by all. Therefore, great leaders are cognizant of their actions and do what they say.
Provide Continuous Feedback
While some might cringe at receiving constant feedback on their performance, employees want to be heard, and having a two-way conversation with their supervisors helps with engagement. After all, employees look to successful leaders for insights and feedback as to how they might improve and reach the same level of success they’ve attained.
Never Stop Questioning; Seek Advice
While it may seem that successful leaders are omniscient, they are instead perpetual learners with a thirst for knowledge who are not afraid to ask questions. Just as they seek to improve others, leaders must lead by example and first better themselves through the insights gained from mentors, colleagues and employees.
When leaders reach a senior level, it becomes more about others than about themselves. They truly enjoy leading, not managing people. Leaders are mindful of the impact they can have on other people’s lives.
Glenn Llopis is the founder of the Center for Hispanic Leadership, a human capital and business development consultancy. He is also the author of “Earning Serendipity.” He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.