Effective managers and leaders share some specific personal qualities and knowledge. For example, they’ve mastered specific skills like how to engage remote employees. They also understand broader concepts, like the value of taking a vacation to get inspired. But above all, effective leaders know how to balance contradictions. They can be confident and humble, strong yet vulnerable, resourceful but dependent. It’s a difficult line to walk. Being a good leader takes years to perfect. But most managers can fast-track their leadership effectiveness with these five skills.
1. Meeting Individual Needs
Effective managers understand the value of the individual member in forming the team. Get to know your employees as people, find out what motivates them. Meet with each member regularly. Use personality tests like Myers-Briggs: They’re a good place to begin identifying personality types, and they can make you a better communicator and motivator. Personality tests help you understand which form of praise — public vs. private — works best. Or who responds to extrinsic vs. intrinsic rewards. Use these insights as entry points to genuine relationship building.
When you build a friendly rapport with your team members, you’re building trust and personal connection. But always keep it professional. Find the appropriate emotional level that maintains a professional atmosphere. Ironically, by getting to know every individual on a deeper level, you’re treating everyone equally. Don’t do it for a few employees: It’s everyone or no one. It takes a high level of personal flexibility to adjust to dozens of personalities. But good managers know how to do this well.
2. Team Building
When managers meet individual needs, they’re setting up a solid foundation for making their team more productive. But teams aren’t simply the collection of individual motivations. Effective managers understand how to combine team members for the greatest synergy. Whose strengths offset another member’s weaknesses? When is it best to combine like personalities or form contrasts? Like a conductor, a leader knows how to orchestrate personalities, strengths, and knowledge to form a chorus of success.
But team leaders aren’t only working outside the group. They also take an active role in helping the group communicate. They facilitate discussions, confront problems that are being ignored, and embrace differing opinions. Managers set the tone for honesty and transparency because they know it facilitates teamwork and collaboration.
Wise managers know why and when to delegate. They don’t let their egos force them into overstretching themselves because they know that the need to make oneself feel indispensable is a self-destructive trap. It’s also an attitude that shows distrust in others. If you can’t trust team members to make decisions, you’ve got organizational problems to address. So, when you delegate, be willing to give up your authority. Otherwise, you’re still the one calling the shots — and your employees know it.
Delegation not only helps you get more done, but it also promotes your team’s development. Trust and competence both need experience to grow. Delegating is a brilliant way to teach skills or test individual competency. Your employees can’t learn good decision making if they never make one — or if you constantly swoop down to fix the problem. It’s tough to let go at times, yet it’s vitally important for your organization’s future growth.
4. Conflict Resolution
Sometimes a quagmire happens and conflicts need resolution. It’s a unique and important responsibility for leaders. But real conflict resolution takes more than just calling a meeting to get to the bottom of an issue. Many factors are at play. Smart managers know how to address the elephant in the room. For one, they know how critical timing is. Too early, and you’ve potentially created a serious problem where only a small misunderstanding existed. Too late, and the team has established hard divisions and entrenched perspectives. Find the sweet spot where hard evidence of wrongdoing is available and confront the issue immediately.
Good conflict resolution requires flexible consistency (another managerial paradox). The best resolutions are rarely black and white issues. Keep an open mind about each stakeholder’s perspective. Don’t simply impose your will on parties with different opinions; that only translates into “Don’t bother me with this again!”. Listen to individual concerns, but be consistent in the entire process. Ask the same questions, meet in the same way, and address the same issues. You don’t want one party thinking you’re taking sides or treating others differently; that only creates further conflict.
5. Setting the Example
Although these leadership qualities help managers be effective, they’re not specific to leaders. That is, every team member needs to know how to team build, meet individual needs, and resolve conflicts. That’s why a leader’s most valuable skill is being the example. Be the model of consistency, the lesson in confidence, and the precedent for credibility. If you want your employees to use social media responsibly, don’t abuse it yourself. Want your team to be more creative? Show them how it’s done. You’re the constant, the North Star to guide your team to success.