Leadership is complex but a worthwhile effort. As a leader, your main priority is not to be the best in the room but to assemble and ready the best in the room. When a team is “firing on all cylinders,” team members feel valued, appreciated, and motivated to help the organization succeed at its overall goals.
Below, I give five leadership qualities for leaders to sharpen as their team members look to them for guidance and direction. Some of these items are birthed from a place of leading from the second chair. While others have come from a place of realizing I was not the best leader for the people that served under me. I wish I could say I have done all these well over the years, but that is simply not the case.
When teams are led well, they are set up for success. My prayer is these five qualities come from a place of health and compassion for those God has placed in our path to lead.
Listen first and talk at the appropriate time. Listening to your team communicates you genuinely care. If you do all the talking, your team will feel like you are a micro-manager who has all the correct answers rather than a leader.
Leadership Tip: Put your phone down during 1×1 meetings. It’s okay to take notes (even digitally), but don’t check your smartwatch, text messages, etc., and look your team member in the eyes. Strive to do only one thing at a time in these environments.
The world is constantly changing, so there are always new things to learn. We can’t ask our teams to learn new things if we aren’t willing to do the same. Being a lifelong learner communicates you haven’t “made it” and displays a posture of humility.
Leadership Tip: Read a new book every quarter and journal what you learn. It could be a leadership book, spiritual help, topics that spark interest, or things you still need to know.
Lean into the struggles and victories of your team. When you lean in, it communicates you are present and team members have your full and undivided attention. It also displays you are striving to keep the organization’s long-term vision and how your team accomplishes it at the forefront of your mind.
Leadership Tip: Keep an ongoing list of three things your team is doing well and three of your team’s greatest opportunities. Evaluate where your role in these.
A great team comprises many different personalities, skill sets, and capacities. You are an effective leader when you help your team members get on the right seat on the correct bus. As a leader, you could be better at things as well…this is why you must have people around you that are better than you in some areas. In addition, leverage your time well.
Leadership Tip: Delegate the right tasks well. Be responsive and try answering emails/messages within 48-72 hours. Champion your team when you see them doing things that make the team perform better. Celebrate wins and point out and learn from missed opportunities.
Inspired your team to chase their dreams, goals, and aspirations, even if this means they will eventually leave your team. Your team members need to leave your team better because of your leadership and influence in their life.
Leadership Tip: Write your team members quarterly (don’t text or email) individual encouragement notes. Tell them what you notice about their work. Help them to do and be better.
This is not an “add-on” at the end. When you listen well, commit to being a life-long learner, lean in, leverage your team’s gifting, and prepare to launch your team members, you present yourself as a leader filled with compassion. In this arena, show, don’t simply tell.
Lead well today, my friends.