“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.”- Martin Luther King Jr.
Take a moment, close your eyes and think back to your favorite boss. Easy, right? Now, take a moment, close your eyes and think back to your worst boss. Did your brain flood with cringe-worthy memories? Unfortunately, everyone has had at least one bad boss in their professional career.
I first got into management at the age of 18. I didn’t have any formal training, so I used prior managers and my parents as role models. I made sure that I would listen, be helpful, train, mentor and be respectful. As years went on, my leadership skills got stronger. My strengths were training, development and being a mentor. Many of my direct reports got promoted as a result and it was such a fulfilling feeling. Now don’t get me wrong, I had several bad bosses during this time. Bosses that rivaled Miranda Priestly or Ari Gold, and no one wants to work for them — OKURR! Although they were horrible, these bosses made me realize how not to lead.
Leaders like Miranda or Ari will never become strong leaders. Why? Deep down they’re unapologetic narcissists, bullies and just miserable people. They rely on leading by making people fearful of them. As someone who’s been bullied by a boss, it was a no-win situation for either person. I became resentful and my productivity suffered. I always swore to never intimidate anyone, belittle my employees or make them feel less than worthy. People don’t leave good jobs, they leave bad bosses.
Effective leadership skills are essential for any workforce. From working at a fast food chain to a Fortune 500 company, a strong leader can impact your life forever. One of my favorite Ted Talk motivational speakers, Simon Sinek once said, “If you want to be a great leader, remember to treat all people with respect at all times. For one, because you never know when you’ll need their help. And two, because it’s a sign you respect people, which all great leaders do.” R-E-S-P-E-C-T, I’ll tell ya what it means to me! Respect and trust are earned over time as you prove yourself to be a great leader. Value, nurture and RESPECT your team and they will look up to you.
So what are some essential qualities good leaders should have?
- Trustworthy: You feel that you can go to them without them spilling your tea or problems to the world. They listen to grievances or wins and make you feel good about your decision to trust them.
- Readily Available: Great leaders will make time for you without making you feel like you’re a nuisance. They set aside time to coach you, nurture your growth and development, and make you feel like you’re valued.
- Fair: There is nothing worse than a “boys club” or “girls clique” with leadership. Leaders should be unbiased, fair, distribute their time evenly and not spend personal time with team members outside of work, ever.
- Effective Communicators: The strongest leaders are effective communicators. They speak with passion, with drive, they remember things you’ve told them, they don’t use inappropriate language and lastly, they don’t talk AT YOU but WITH YOU. Effective communication is one of the biggest differentiators between a great leader and a poor leader.
If you’re currently in a leadership role and know you shouldn’t be, there is nothing wrong with admitting you’re not cut out to be a leader. Before you are set up to fail, admit that it isn’t for you — it will be humbling. If you want to lead and mentor others — Do it! Jump in, start to involve yourself and thrive. Be the great leader you were born to be.