Every company and mission needs a leader who directs the development of the team in a specific direction and determines how collaboration takes place. This is referred to as leadership. Leaders present future visions and goals to the team, while developing strategies for achieving those goals. They do not hesitate to make difficult decisions, especially if it is in the best interest of the company and its employees.
Leaders can be found in many situations of life, but the term is mostly used for managing positions in the workplace. However, leaders also play an important part in religion, various societies, or other areas. In this article, you will discover what leadership entails, which leadership skills are useful, and what modern leadership is all about.
In truth, there is no universal definition of leadership. Each leader has their own leadership style, which can be influenced by a variety of factors. Fortunately, leadership competencies do not have to be innate, but can be acquired over time.
The basic definition of leadership is as follows: As a leader, you create a vision for the future that motivates and includes others. You are responsible for putting these visions into action. To achieve this goal, team members must be inspired and managed as effectively as possible. Therefore, leadership involves achieving a specific goal through the mobilization and collaboration of others.
As a leader, you have a broad range of responsibilities and act as a supportive teammate for your colleagues. Being a subordinate is not always easy and can lead to frustration. Without a mutual feedback culture, frustration among employees could escalate. To achieve goals, ensure employee satisfaction and have a great team culture, a leader needs to fulfill the following tasks.
Create a vision
Every team needs common goals to be successful. It is the leader’s task to determine the direction the company should take in the future. Establishing a common vision for the future can be challenging, as there are many factors to consider.
It is important to know the strengths of your team to determine the direction in which future development makes the most sense. It is also important not to ignore the strengths of competing companies and their prominence on the market. Innovation is particularly important here, as only unique approaches and strategies can prove themselves in the tough market of most industries.
An exemplary leader, therefore, has a clear future vision of the company in mind. However, they are also present enough to take the necessary steps now to achieve these goals in the future. Strong leaders are problem solvers and like to tackle challenges head-on.
Just because you as the leader are convinced of a vision does not mean that the rest of your team feels the same way. Leaders must ensure that employees can identify themselves with the vision.
Having good motivational skills is one of the most important qualities of a leader. Enforcing a new vision is anything but easy, and the team will have to overcome obstacles and difficulties on the way. This can lead to a lack of motivation among employees. In the worst case, they lose their connection to the vision completely. Even in these situations, the leader must show strength to maintain motivation and enthusiasm.
At the beginning of a new project, there is usually a lot of enthusiasm coming from the team. However, the further the project progresses, the less enthusiastic will your employees be. And that is entirely normal. Your team will realize that it needs to adapt, find compromises, and undergo significant changes. The leader must constantly remind the team that the hard work will pay off. Whether this is reflected in grants, rewards, or an enhanced reputation of the company – employees must identify with the mission.
An inspiring vision is meaningless if it is not communicated well. The delivery and execution of the vision must be professionally handled and managed, either by the leader themselves or by other managers under their supervision.
Management skills are important for establishing the personal goals of employees and connecting them with the overarching goal. When changes are imminent within a team, management skills are necessary to prevent chaos.
Team building and coaching activities
At the end of the day, a successful leader is nothing without a successful team. A good leader is always striving to increase the strength, productivity, and collaboration of the team. To do this, they must be familiar with the skills and talents of individual team members and show interest in them. They should consciously take the time to give and accept feedback, have one-on-one conversations, and regularly check overall satisfaction.
To further enhance these factors, team building or team development solutions are excellent options.
As a leader, you are successful when your team can achieve the desired goals and your employees are satisfied. However, there is much more to a good leadership style.
Empathy: Successful leaders are empathetic and have good people skills. They know that their team members have complex emotions that differ from each other. Some prefer to work on projects alone, while others need more guidance.
Empowerment: The recipe for a successful leader includes ensuring that employees are motivated and able to work well. The leader should treat employees as they would like to be treated themselves. While this motto may seem simple, it gives the leader insight into the needs of employees.
Decisions: A successful leader should be aware that their own decision-making power limits that of their employees. They also acknowledge that most employees have grown up with the idea that the boss is the enemy. To prevent this, employees should be rewarded with trust and a certain degree of autonomy. This prevents feelings of frustration.
Successful leaders often have the following characteristics:
Examples of bad leadership
The competence of a leader can either strengthen or weaken a company. Studies show that the behavior and reputation of a leader play an important role in whether jobseekers apply for a position, and is even more important than the salary. The loyalty to the company suffers when an incompetent leader holds responsibility, and this also leads to a deterioration in performance.
Treating employees the way you would like to be treated yourself: you should approach this motto with caution. Not everyone has the same needs, and different approaches are suitable for different employees. Poor leaders are not familiar with the individual members of their team. Therefore, they cannot determine what the team needs to do the job as well as possible.
Examples of poor leadership could look like this:
- A leader who is not interested in creating a culture of mutual feedback. Instead, they put pressure on employees and spread fear.
- A leader who completely ignores that employees are not just work machines, but real people with feelings and personal obstacles.
- A leader who continuously makes bad decisions. They do not question their actions and do not feel the need to justify past mistakes.
- A leader who does not trust their employees and only cares about their own opinions and ideas.
Not only can employees continually improve themselves through coaching and team-building activities, but leaders should also regularly undergo leadership training.
By the way:
Have you ever wondered how one of the most successful businesses in the world lead their workforce? Have a look at our article on Amazon’s 14 principles for leaders to find out more.
How leadership can influence productivity
One of the most basic psychological needs involves a sense of belonging and self-worth. These needs determine intrinsic motivation. Employees want to feel that their work is valuable and contributes to a larger whole.
A positive work culture fosters this feeling. It should be in the leader’s interest to promote a work environment that includes open communication, motivation, and constructive feedback. Dissatisfaction is a breeding ground for mistakes and is likely to result in a deteriorated reputation for the company and a decline in performance.
Talented employees know their value in today’s job market. In most cases, they do not need to stay in a company where the culture does not meet their needs and an incompetent leader holds the reins. If these employees are lost, the company will suffer.
Successful leaders are largely responsible for how employees deal with mistakes. If job loss fears are part of the culture, potentials cannot be fully realized. In a negative work environment, employees only do what is expected of them. Good leaders advocate for development, even if it means making mistakes.
What are prominent leadership styles?
Every person is different, just like every leader. The leadership style determines how a leader manages their subordinates. Additionally, the individual approaches of each leader cannot be converted into typical styles. However, certain patterns have emerged in the leadership field that reflect the behavior of many leaders.
Strategic Leadership Style
In many companies, this leadership style has emerged as the optimal solution. Here, the leader oversees all operations of the company, but also focuses heavily on growth. Their goal is to maintain stable working conditions within the operation, even during times of change. However, if all needs are taken into account, the pace of growth may slow down. A strategic leader may not always act in the best interest of the company.
Transformational Leadership Style
This leader always demands growth and improvement within the company. Their goal is to push employees out of their comfort zone and thereby improve their skills. Companies prioritizing growth can benefit greatly from this style. However, it can be difficult to keep track of each individual’s increases and growth.
Transactional Leadership Style
Transactional leaders reward employees for their performance. For example, they receive commissions for a certain number of products sold. Working under a transactional leader is usually associated with specific numbers and goals. Employees are motivated to achieve them quickly. This style also has its flaws, as employees are incentivized to only do the minimum.
Leadership vs. Management
These two terms are often mistakenly used as synonyms. Managers play an important role in the company structure, but they are rarely the actual leaders.
Generally, managers are more concerned with maintaining the company structure and getting employees to operate within the rules. They themselves are often subject to another leader, and therefore do not have the complete freedom to behave as they wish. Leaders operate more freely and are more willing to take risks. Often, it is left to the managers to straighten out the internal and external chaos caused by these decisions.
Managers are highly valuable for the leader. As the top leader, it can be difficult to keep an eye on the needs of each individual employee. Leaders are not familiar with the daily tasks of every employee. Managers, on the other hand, are usually working in specific areas and are familiar with the simple everyday steps that are supposed to lead to the desired goal.
Leadership and remote work
Remote work has changed the way we view leadership. The traditional model of a boss leading a team in person no longer applies. Now, leaders must adapt to managing teams from afar, using digital tools and communication to stay connected. This requires a different set of skills and approaches, such as trust-building, clear communication, and empathy.
Remote work also allows for greater flexibility, which can benefit both the leader and the team. Leaders who are able to balance their work and personal life are more likely to be effective, and remote work can provide that balance. Additionally, remote work can attract talent from around the world, allowing leaders to build diverse teams and gain new perspectives. Ultimately, successful remote leadership requires a willingness to adapt, stay connected, and prioritize both individual and team needs. We collected our top tips for managers and leaders that are just starting out with remote work in one of our recent articles.
VIDEO: Leadership explained
Which leadership style is most successful?
There isn’t one “best” leadership style, as being a leader is a highly personal thing that also hinges on the specific situation. However, many employees state that agility is one of the most important traits they look for in a leader. Leadership should foster the strengths of the team and enjoy what they do.
How will leadership look like in the future?
In the future, leaders will increasingly act as a coach or mentor. The goal is to find employees that are experts within their fields and pass on important tasks.