The skills needed for a leader of people within an organization seem to continually become more complex.
It seemed as if for many years the work environment was more insulated from the rest of life. This meant the list of qualities desired in a leader stayed fairly static and reasonably clear. Between such events as shifts in culture and a pandemic the wall between the work world and the rest of an employee’s life has become more permeable.
A leader of people in an organization must be much more agile in their thinking and ability to adapt to both the challenges of the current workplace as well as how they seek to cater to the team members. It seems as leaders began to adapt to remote work people began to come back to the office again. The expectations that came back with them, however, were no longer the same. No longer does keeping an employee seem to totally revolve around pay and benefits but also their engagement and passion about the work.
Among these factors there are certainly many competencies and characteristics a leader of people must keep in mind. Although certainly not a comprehensive list there are three qualities any leader of people will need to be mindful of as they seek to increase their influence with their teams.
- Focus on your strengths, not weaknesses: A big temptation when working on one’s skillset as a leader is to look at where the shortcomings are and put a big focus on developing those. While this is important (one doesn’t simply want to disregard shortcomings) an often-underutilized strategy is leaning more heavily upon leveraging and utilizing one’s natural strengths. Our strengths, when best employed, are what makes us unique in our contributions. It is likely that small improvements in the use of your strengths will being more to your work than large improvements in your weaknesses. Don’t disregard the use of your strengths as the expense of focusing too much on improving your weaknesses.
- Employing high communication and vision: The workplace is likely going to continue to be a place of change and disruption as pressures and emphases on being in the workplace and remote working continue to shake out. One aspect of this dynamic is it has disrupted the natural, consistent flows of communication. A team leader, especially in these days, needs to plan toward a steady drip of communication to the team regarding the work, the expectations, and where it all is heading. It can’t be taken for granted that everyone has access to the same information and intuitively understands the expectations in the disrupted workflow of the current workplace. It is the responsibility of the leader to makes sure their team has the information and direction they need to be set up for success.
- Listen/transparency: Building on the prior point just as one can expect communication to outflow naturally in a disrupted work environment one also cannot expect communication to naturally flow back either. How well does the leader understand where the team is and what challenges they are currently facing? How much is the leader in touch with how team members are feeling engaged with their work? A leader of people has got to make intentional investments in they people they lead and hear regularly from them regarding how they are doing. When balanced with transparency and displayed genuineness on the part of the leader these actions will help them be not only more informed but also serve to help create a more engaged and energized team.
Being a leader of people has rarely been an easy job and it seems to have become even more challenging and complicated in the past years. Leaders who seek to be proactive and intentional in communicating objectives, casting vision, and practicing listening skills will have the opportunity to increase their influence with the teams they lead. It’s a great opportunity for those who are willing to invest the time and care into it.