An article written by Karen Leong, Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Sometimes leaders think they’re doing their job well by delegating tasks and making sure they’re done in time, but that’s not all there is to leadership.
Hitting targets is a big part of it, but to me, a really great leader inspires their team. By this I mean that they not only ensure you meet your goals, but also encourage you to go above and beyond. They understand the business and their team, set a compelling vision, and bring you on the journey.
Quite often, a team leader is more experienced than those working for them. In fact, a lot of teams follow the typical ‘pyramid’ structure where a majority of people are in their early careers. These team members are hungry! They want to learn more and learn from the best, often looking at the more senior and leadership roles for examples of how things work. If you’re not giving them opportunities to grow, sharing your experiences, giving them guidance and inspiring them to come to work, why should they rock up?
A strong leader provides a clear sense of purpose for their team and creates an environment where they can thrive and do their best. I believe this is key to having a high-performing and engaged team.
Do you see leadership roles in your future?
If you’ve made the decision that you want to have people leadership in your role - great! If you haven’t or if you’re not sure, that’s fine too. But remember that there are so many ways to be a leader. We often misconstrue a role with direct reports as the only type of leadership experience you can have, but that’s simply not true.
I’d encourage those who want to formally get into people leadership (and those who don’t too) to find opportunities where you can help someone else out and learn about their role or circumstance – anyone can do this, even if you’ve just started out in your career. You might help a new starter or you might interview someone in a more senior role to learn what they need help with – there will never be a shortage of opportunities to help.
So much of leadership is about empathy and having a good understanding of how the business operates. The more you hone these skills, the easier it will be when leadership becomes part of your role.
Exemplify the enthusiasm you want to see in your team
I strongly believe that if you display drive, curiosity and enthusiasm in your work, it'll inspire others to do the same. Just like smiling at someone will likely result in them smiling back, bringing a level of energy to your meetings can only help liven things up and set the right mood from the start.
Don’t just be the leader who meets the goals of the team on paper and gets the job done. Get your teams excited about their work and what their futures could be, and share your knowledge and experience to show them how to get there.
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