In turbulent times like these, effective leadership sets the tone and direction for an organization. Nerves are on edge and uncertainty can decrease productivity, but an effective leader can motivate others to remain calm and keep the larger vision in view.
What Is Effective Leadership?
Before we can talk about effective leadership, it is important to define leadership itself. A commonly accepted definition defines leadership as “acts by persons influence other persons in a shared direction/[common goal]”.
What is effective leadership? Effective leadership involves consistently displaying the traits that motivate people towards a common goal. Effective leaders have a way of engaging others in a way that helps them “catch” a vision. They also ensure their people have what they need to actually achieve the goals that have been set.
When everyone is focused on a common goal, has what is needed to do the work to reach that goal, and remains engaged and motivated, productivity is optimized and people feel part of a shared purpose (a shared human need that goes beyond the dignity of work).
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Don’t underestimate the role integrity and honesty play in effective leadership. For people to follow, they must believe that you believe in what you are saying, you are consistent, and can be fully trusted.
As a leader, you set the tone for conduct with those you influence. Never underestimate that you set the atmosphere for those you are motivating. If you are not happy and positive, you cannot expect others around you to be positive. You are always being observed and imitated.
Effective Leadership Skills
In turbulent times, leadership skills are more important than ever. The following are our top 3 leadership skills for turbulent times you should hone now:
If you want to be an effective leader, you have to ensure you are able to clearly articulate & communicate common goals in a way that instills passion to reach those goals. Furthermore, you must speak to people in their language, even if it is different from yours.
You can always improve your communication skills to help ensure those you are engaging with share your vision. You must ensure that:
- Your message is simple. It must be something that can be easily absorbed and repeated.
- Your message is clearly articulated. Speak and write on an 8th grade level. This is not the time to use complicated vocabulary. If someone can’t understand and repeat what you are saying in an elevator conversation, your message must be shortened and clarified.
It is not enough to have a high IQ and ample experience to be an effective leader. How you react, empathize, and understand those around you plays a large part in your success as a leader.
Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to your ability to manage your emotions, resolve conflict, pick up verbal and non-verbal cues, and understand how you behave impacts others. Those with high EI empathize well with others and utilizing excellent listening and communication skills to make their empathy evident.
A recent survey showed that 71% of employers would prefer employees with high emotional EI over IQ. Even more interesting is that the majority of employers would not hire someone with a low EI even if they had a high IQ. Yes, it seems that the importance of emotional intelligence is finally catching on in the business world.
Emotional intelligence does come easier to some than others, but it can be learned. You can take an EI assessment to see where you might be able to improve. These assessments take a look at everything from your flexibility, optimism, reaction to stress and conflict, and interpersonal relationship skills and determine which competencies you should focus on strengthening.
Emotional intelligence is based heavily on your self-awareness. Self-awareness is how aware you are of your behaviors and how they impact others. Do you know how you function? EI can be improved the more you understand how you behave and why so that you can adapt your behaviors to better interact with others.
Climbing the corporate ladder and being an effective leader in turbulent times requires high EI.
Steps to Take to Improve Your EI:
Evaluate how you handle stressful situations.
When you react to a stressful situation, evaluate how you handled it and adjust as necessary. Did you remain calm? How well did you communicate a needed change in direction clearly? Did you remain optimistic? One way to keep yourself accountable: apologize when you handled something poorly.
Determine if you take responsibility for your actions.
Did you take responsibility for your behavior? If you were in the wrong, did you apologize? Did you own your mistake and learn from it?
Take the following quiz to establish your EI baseline: EI Quiz. Use these results to develop a plan to improve in the competencies that are weak. We all have room to improve.
No one likes to be kept in the dark, especially those you are leading. To be an effective leader, you must ensure people are kept in the loop with updated information, even if it is bad news. They must also feel that their input is welcomed.
Surprises are often not welcome, and people like to know what is going on and how what they are doing impacts results. Knowing when and how to course correct is important and ensures time and money are not wasted.
Transparency inspires all involved to communicate clearly, which is why it is so important for you as an effective leader to lead by example.
Effective Leadership Skills – Needed in Turbulent Times and Always
Understanding what it takes to be an effective leader will ensure you are able to inspire those around you and ensure your vision is adopted and executed. Never underestimate your ability to improve your leadership skills by asking for feedback. There are those around you who have honest input for you, we promise!
Without knowing what you need to work on, you will not be able to improve and grow. During turbulent times, you will be glad you invested in yourself as a leader so that you can shepherd your organization through rough times. More than any other time, people look to leaders in a crisis. Be sure that when your people look at you, they see a steady hand who communicates openly and empathizes with their concerns.
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