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leader development“If it weren’t for the other people on my team, I could manage this project with ease!”

I’ve heard this kind of thinking more times than I can count. Professionals judge the leadership of others negatively, and therefore presume they could do the job better. Some of them climb the ladder and indeed get that opportunity – but when they get there, they quickly realize that the real skill set involves the ability to influence, encourage, support, mentor and assist in the development of each team member. They realize effective leadership is not dictatorship.

So, how do you know if you are ready to lead? Here are three core principles/characteristics that could make you an effective leader.

  1. Trust and/or hire team members who have skills you do not. Some managers have a belief that they are leaders because of only one thing – “what they know.” If you base your value as a leader only on what you know, you will lead out of fear that someone else is going to take your job, and thereby stifle your career and business growth. This leads to insecurity – a leader who is skeptical of the very people that could grow the business. But it’s not all about you. Great leaders know the value of hiring the most talented employees in the organization, leveraging their unique skills and ability so that together they can reach a new level of accomplishments. This kind of leader has the ability to see the big picture and effectively structure and influence others in accomplishing growth for the business.
  2. Know how and when to let go. I’ve helped many Career Coaching clients obtain jobs in mid-to-small sized businesses, where I often hear about company owners who forget the basic rule of business growth – learning to let go of control, developing a culture of trust and autonomy. Too often smaller businesses limit their growth because they become mico-managed by leadership. They hire people with hopes that they will make every decision just like they would. There’s no thought that the new hire could actually bring something new to the table. Working with contractors myself, I’ve learned that I get the best out of the workers I’ve hired when I give them the freedom to make edits or changes. It might not be exactly how I would do it, but it’s not wrong either.
  3. Assume the best of intentions. When things go wrong, do you assume that the problem occurred because someone didn’t care, was lazy, or did it out of spite? Chances are there’s a logical explanation for what happened, and it’s very hard once you have made a snap judgment to take it back. Good leaders are willing to give the benefit of the doubt. Employees respect and become more dedicated to their jobs and leadership when they feel secure knowing you manage with respect and fairness. This will go a long way in your ability to be a great leader.

You won’t find these three principles in textbooks. These are best practices I’ve seen lead to successful leadership both as an HR professional and a Career Coach. And if these principles don’t come naturally, rest assured that these are learned behaviors that yield long lasting results.

What will you do to hone these core behaviors so that you are ready for leadership?