Last week, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a vacation...well a staycation to be exact! Most people probably wouldn't even think twice about their job while away, but I couldn't help jotting down ideas and planning out my weeks ahead. During this free time, I also reevaluated the kind of leader I am and want to be. Whether you are in charge of a company, a household, or athletic team, you are a leader and someone is waiting for your next move.
These are 5 traits I plan to uphold as a leader.
I place this one as my number one leadership quality because the leaders and mentors I most admired have always been kind. I can remember specific times when my favorite bosses would deliver an urgent message to me with a calm and clear tone. Her message was direct, but gentle, and it was because of her demeanor and kind heart that I always wanted to deliver 100% results.
This also holds true with friendships and family. Be careful to not allow other stressors in your life come out with your friends and loved ones. I remind myself this on my way home from a long day of work. My family that is waiting for me may not know or understand the deadlines and initiatives I was enforcing that day. Instead of snapping at my husband for not putting his clothes away (again) or getting frustrated with my daughter for not eating the dinner we just cooked, I remind myself to be kind and patient. You can get the same message across while being kind. Kind and uplifting people are who we choose to surround ourselves with, so be that person for others.
"Sometimes it is better to be kind than right. We do not need an intelligent mind that speaks, but a patient heart that listens".
set the pace and set the expectations
If you're the leader, you are the pacesetter for the rest of the team to cross over that finish line. What you do daily to achieve goals will be noticed quickly and enforced shortly there after. Remember, if you expect quick and efficient results you must be the same way in everything you do.
I cannot explain how frustrating it was for me to work for a slow moving leader at one point in my career. I often think back to my frustrations I felt for minor tasks that needed to be accomplished. I remember there was a Black Friday set we needed to have completed and it was mid-day Wednesday at this point. Thursday we would be closed for Thanksgiving, and Friday morning we would be opening EARLY! The urgency for this floor set was huge. I remember the leader demanded certain things be moved around quickly, and as any respectful leader in the building the rest of quickly got to work. I later saw the leader of the store sitting in the back on the computer for the majority of their shift. I didn't say anything, but I could tell the rest of the team had slowed down their pace. If the leader was disinterested in the task at hand it would trickle down to the rest of the team. You can guess the outcome of this scenario. Black Friday was not set to directive and future tasks would have the same results.
As a leader you set the pace and expectations for your team. Your best work ethic is what others will strive for. Next time you may feel tired or feel like completing a task half way, think back to what kind of a leader you want to be. Go grab that cup of coffee and finish that task whole heartedly!!
In order for your team to feel empowered and effective, they must know their goals. Being goal-oriented will not only help you accomplish your tasks faster, but it will also help the team morale and build confidence in each player. I can think back to many times after I helped my team achieve a certain goal I felt empowered and important.
Having goals provides a sense of achievement and gives focus. If you're like me, then you have so many ideas racing around all the time that setting goals is the only way to create a list and knock them out one by one. I know that I can't be the only one that has this problem so I try my best to set daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals for my team.
You've heard this before. We are all keen to knowing when someone is being genuine and when they are not. If you want to lead others, you have to be authentic and true to yourself. I also include this for your own sake and sanity. I have been in retail long enough to know that events, new products, initiatives, or even strategies will always be evolving. Sometimes it's easy to accept the new way without evaluating if it's best for you and your team. Be authentic. Speak up. Your team will appreciate it and so will you. You will enjoy working towards a goal you also feel a tie to.
make it right
This sounds easy, but I find it to be hardest one to do and also receive at times. I appreciate leaders who take ownership of their faults, and therefore I try to be the same. I am the first to admit I can be organized and still forget an important deadline or task at hand. I try to own it in the moment as soon as I know I didn't do my best. A colleague of mine told me of a power question she asks her team and herself daily, "Is this the best you can do? If it's not, then what will you do to change it?" I ask myself if it's the best I can do, and if it's not I will make adjustments and make it right.
This also helps me practice self awareness. In order for you to have growth, you have to be honest with yourself and know where you are. Same things applies for your team. Where are they and where do they need to be? Make adjustments and make it right. If apologies are in order then do it, learn from it, and move on.
You don't need a certain title to feel that you are leading someone or a group of people. So today, own the influence you have on others and focus on being the kind of leader you want to be for the people around you.