Developing Effective Leadership and People Management Skills

Effective leadership and the ability to manage people are fundamental in the success of any ‘team’ venture be that in business or in any other group activity. Whether it’s in business or as part of a leisure activity any group will ultimately be working towards a common ‘goal’ and it’s important that there is somebody who can command the respect of the group and who can pull all of the various elements together in order to reach that goal.

Are Leadership and Management The Same?

They are intrinsically linked but not entirely the same. For example, a leader’s role is to inspire the team and to focus on the possibilities of what can be achieved. They need to be able to engage and energise the team and to create a vision or suggest ideas to the rest of the team and encourage the team to offer suggestions of their own.

Now, if we look at the above in terms of management, the manager’s role is to take those inspirations and possibilities we talked about and to turn them into practical solutions. A manager will turn ideas into reality and turn potential into performance. Suggestions will become objectives to be achieved. However, although there is a slightly different emphasis between leadership and management, most successful leaders are usually successful managers too.

What are the Qualities of a Successful Leader?

An effective leader will have exceptional interpersonal skills and will know how to get the best out of people. They will be good at establishing trust between all members of the team and between the team and themselves and they will be able to communicate their goals clearly and to steer and motivate the team towards success.

They will treat each member of the team fairly and as individuals and understand that a team’s success lies in harnessing all of the diverse skills and qualities inherent within the team and co-ordinating all of this into a strategy that can produce the desired outcome.

Understanding the Team and Respect

An effective leader will have had plenty of experience of being a team member led by another leader in the past. Therefore, they’ll appreciate what’s important to a team in terms of what they’ll want from their leader. A good leader will never expect any member of a team to do anything that the leader has not done themselves previously or will, at least, be prepared to lead the way and to undertake aspects of the task themselves which they expect their team to also undertake. A team will also want their leader to provide them with a clear sense of direction and purpose.

One of the most common mistakes leaders and managers make is to ask team members to do something which they have never done themselves or are willing to do. Without respect from the team, therefore, a leader is worthless.

What do the Team Expect?

A leader will know that it’s all about having a commitment to the team itself as well as to the task that is crucial to the success of any mission. As well as a team wanting a leader who can inspire from the front, they’ll also want one who will support and serve the team itself. The team will want to feel confident about the leader’s expertise and feel assured that the leader is willing to accept responsibility for the overall outcome.

Leadership is about bringing the team together and making them ‘gel’ together as a team. Many groups of outstanding individuals have failed because the leader has not instilled a sense of there being a ‘group ethic’ as first and foremost of key importance and then individual skills and abilities coming second. In many ways, to get the best out of a team, a leader almost has to put themselves in the position of ‘servant’ to the team if they want all the individual team members to also ‘serve each other’.

Appreciating Diversity and Drawing That Together

The best leaders in the world are good at identifying the vast array of talents and skills that are available to them and in understanding how to blend and use all of these very unique skills and resources. They know how to create a team atmosphere which is stimulating, fun and challenging and one in which every member realises that they have a voice and will be listened to. In essence, the leader should know that he or she is merely an orchestrator whose aim is to let the talents of the rest of the team flourish in a co-ordinated, goal driven fashion which simply requires someone to steer them in the right direction.

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