Leaders are not born, but rather made. It is the ability of a manager to understand their team that truly sets them apart from the rest. A leader must have the knowledge and experience to gain insight into how their team works, what motivates them and how they can best succeed as a unit.
I will always cherish the moment I became acquainted with a genuine leader. The CEO of a mid-sized financial institution noticed my potential and gave me an opportunity to prove myself. I started as a marketing assistant and ended up the assistant vice president of marketing in less than 10 years. In hindsight, I believe his leadership style had a lot to do with my success. I grew a lot in that short decade; from being a hard-working employee, to becoming a confident leader.
The CEO was not only well-versed in leadership but he also understood the strengths and weaknesses of every single one of his employees. At the beginning, I believed this was more of an innate leadership quality that he possessed. But now, I realize it is something that can be mastered with proper knowledge and understanding.
So, what’s the key to leadership?
As an effective manager, it’s your job to identify exactly how you can get the most out of each team member while promoting collaboration and cooperation among your team. To do so, it’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each individual employee.
It may sound like a daunting task but it is actually quite simple: All you need to do is ask yourself three key questions about each member of your team:
- What are their core skills?
- How can those qualities be used to benefit the team?
- What are their weaknesses and how can those be managed or improved?
Having an understanding of one’s team allows leaders to tap into the strengths and weaknesses of each individual member, turning them into an effective and cohesive unit. Leaders who recognize diverse skill sets in their employees also have greater chance of getting results. Furthermore, managers who take the time to get to know their team build trust—team members are more likely to listen and accept feedback when they feel respected and appreciated by their supervisors.
The importance of being a great leader.
“Leadership is the art of making sure you and your team are headed in the same direction.”
No doubt about it, as a new manager many years ago, I hadn’t adopted this philosophy. I had a lot to learn from my CEO, who clearly understood that leadership isn’t about leadership titles and orders. But I also learned what kind of leader I did not want to be. Leaders who delegate without taking the time to get to know their team, are unlikely to succeed.
Leaders can help foster a better work environment when they know how to appreciate different personalities. They should be able to act as a mediator in conflict resolution, while also knowing when it is time provide guidance or support without overstepping boundaries.
Ultimately, having an understanding of one’s team is essential for any manager wanting to maximize success in their workplace. By taking the time to learn more about each employee’s skillset, goals and motivations, leaders can ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal—the success of the company.
It’s a lifelong process, but the rewards of mastering leadership skills are immense. With understanding comes leadership, and with leadership comes success!