Not all managers are leaders. Leadership is not a trait defined by your job designation. You might have heard of the popular adage: Leaders don’t give orders; they lead from the front. That’s true. But it’s just scratching the surface. The problem with managers or people assuming leadership roles in the modern workplace is that they truly don’t know what needs to be done to do justice to their positions. And this is where ‘leadership practices’ enter the picture.
“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. ”Nelson Mandela
Best Leadership Practices You Need To Know
So what are leadership practices? Or what are effective leadership practices? And how to improve on them?
Leaders, when at their best, are challenging, inspiring, enabling, modeling, and encouraging. And they achieve this by staying committed to a particular set of values and behaviors. These behaviors can be observed, learned and put to practice. If you are not sure what these things actually mean, allow us to expand.
Challenging The Process
Good leaders thrive on adversities and difficult situations and learn from them. They are inclined to risk-taking and view failure as an opportunity to realize and innovate. They do not look at their or their team members’ failures as a product of inability or bad performance.
Also, good leaders are early adopters. They are constantly on the lookout for things that seem to work – at least in their eyes – and then improve on them. They don’t care what others would think if they are very sure of what they are doing. This basically indicates a good leader shouldn’t be content with ‘business as usual’.
As a leader, it’s important you constantly seek challenging prospects to metamorphose, develop, innovate, and enhance at an organizational and personal level. Regularly experiment, take risks, and motivate others to do the same. Build a culture wherein people believe mistakes are pure steppingstones. Even things that seem to work fine in your organization may have inherent issues. You need to identify and rectify them before they spin their own web and cause trouble.
Share The Vision
People are truly motivated by ideas capturing their imagination, and not necessarily by reward or fear. More than having a vision, this leadership practice is all about communicating the vision effectively for others to take it forward. Strong leaders think futuristically and strive to energize others by enthusiasm, emotion, and passion. They seek bringing people on board who have a sense for this shared goal. This is generally considered as a very effective leadership style.
Great leaders build a vision of an enabling and uplifting future where people feel invigorated by the team or organization vision. They recruit others in this shared vision by calling upon their interests, hopes, values and dreams. If your employees or team members cannot recollect your organization’s mission, a lack of communication is to blame.
Lead by Example and Encourage Others To Do The Same
Leaders do not want to do it all by themselves – they achieve outcomes through others. And to get that done, encouragement alone isn’t enough. People should feel they could act upon things and must be supported to implement their ideas. Relationship-based and collaborative work is key to success.
Being the leader, you should foster collaboration by propagating co-operative objects and creating trust between team members and leaders. You must bolster others by sharing power and information and by boosting their visibility and discretion.
If needed, create a master-apprentice relationship. In other words, after you recognize team members with great potential, you should selflessly and willingly customize your training to suit the requirements of these special individuals. Great leaders offer personal growth assignments and opportunities that transcend traditional training programs.
Model The Path
Modeling basically means being ready to go first, walking the path that you would like other people to take before encouraging them to do so. People usually do not go by what their leaders say, but by the things that they do day in and day out. Great leaders must first demonstrate the “preferred” approach.
They must specifically set an example by working in ways that align with their personal beliefs and also the company’s values. They invariably reduce their own budgets before asking their team members to keep a tab on their expenditures. In other words, if they are in a fundraising campaign, they would donate to the cause yourself first before seeking donations from others. Good leaders plan small victories that encourage development in teams and individuals, and then build on the same to keep the momentum.
Encourage The Heart
People perform at their very best when they put their hearts and souls into the task. Good leaders unleash their followers’ enthusiasm with passion-filled anecdotes and personal stories. Such leaders revel in other people’s successes, irrespective of how small they are. They confront difficult projects recognizing contributions of others.
If you apply these leadership practices to you and identify your strengths and vulnerabilities, you would be able to spot the specific areas you must work on. Through understanding, training, practice and evaluation, you could quickly move from being an effective manager to an exceptional leader.