A great leader believes in their work. They have a strong sense of purpose that manifests even in menial tasks. Their leadership inspires team members to accomplish goals and strive for success. And as a result, they help their organizations thrive.
It may seem like some people are born to lead. Or they are just gifted with excellent leadership skills. The truth? You can learn and sharpen your leadership skills and become like them or better.
Below, we explore four powerful keys to becoming a highly effective leader.
1. Lead with Integrity
Honesty is the best policy in leadership. Volkswagen’s 2015 scandal is the perfect example to prove this point.
America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused the German car manufacturer of cheating on US emission tests. Volkswagen pleaded guilty to having installed ‘defeat devices’ in its vehicles. As a result, Volkswagen’s cars appeared to pass EPA emission tests, but in reality, they emitted pollutants up to forty times above what is allowed in the United States.
The cheating scandal severely damaged the automaker’s reputation. It resulted in billions of US dollars lost in fines, years of probation, and oversight to prevent future misconduct.
The company broke the trust of the public and customers. Internally, too, Volkswagen’s employees reported a drop in trust in the car company. The then-CEO of Volkswagen, Martin Winterkorn, resigned after accepting responsibility for the deception.
Key takeaway: Integrity is essential in building trust, internally with your team members or externally with your audience. It also prevents costly scandals.
2. Write Down Your Goals and Pursue Them
“If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Rome philosopher
Leaders that understand the critical importance of setting goals lead a more successful team. Why? Effective goal setting shows where you want to be and how you’ll get there. It lays out the map to your desired destination as a leader.
That said, writing down your goals increases the chances of achieving them. Scientific studies have proven so.
Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University of California, divided research participants into two groups: Those with written and unwritten goals. The results were outrageous. Participants with written goals accomplished significantly more than those who didn’t.
Action step: Use the OKR method to set achievable goals. OKR stands for “objectives” (what you want to accomplish) and “key results” (how you will meet the objectives). Big names like Bill Gates (the founder of Microsoft) and Larry Page (Google co-founder and former Alphabet CEO) use this technique to tackle their biggest goals.
3. Have a Growth Mindset With Your Leadership
A growth mindset makes you correctly believe that people, including yourself, can change in terms of intelligence, talents, and abilities. In other words, you become open-minded.
And as a result, you are more mentally primed to:
- take on challenges
- leverage feedback from subordinates
- offer constructive criticism to team members
- adopt the most effective problem-solving techniques
Key takeaway: Your mindset is your mental lens that determines what information you digest and use to make a positive change. For this reason, highly effective leaders prioritize mindset development. Especially by targeting growth.
4. Provide Training and Resources
Effective leadership isn’t controlling your subordinates and then counting your dollars. It’s about helping them achieve their goals. And as a by-product of doing so, you meet your objectives.
To do that, provide training and development. That way, you simultaneously pinpoint the knowledge and skills you want employees to have and help them become better at what they do.
Think of it as equipping them with what it takes to achieve business goals without micromanaging them.
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