5 Skills of Effective Leaders

We have found that most effective and successful leaders embrace and excel at five skills.  In this blog, we will discover and explain each to help you down your path of management excellence.

1. Create a Shared Vision for the Organization

Your vision must be clear, compelling, and well-articulated. The staff must buy into the leader’s vision and have passion for it. Having a vision will help ensure that you are looking to the future and building your organization instead of just reacting to daily situations and priorities.

Before you develop your vision statement, first write your mission statement. It states your goals and purpose — your why — and whom you serve. Many leaders get their team members’ input on their vision and mission statements because it’s much easier to get buy-in from people if they have contributed to building it. What do you stand for and believe in as a team? What do you do better than everyone else?

Your vision statement describes where your team aspires to be once it has achieved its mission. When you are ready to write your vision statement, make it short, impactful and memorable. Then communicate it often. Every person on your team should be able to recite your vision statement. Here are the vision statements of a few well-known companies that you can read for inspiration:

– Amazon: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online,
and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”

– Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it
universally accessible and useful.”

– LinkedIn: “To connect the world’s professionals to make them
more productive and successful.”

– USAA: “To facilitate the financial security of its members, associates, and their families through the provision of a full range of highly competitive financial products and services; in so doing, USAA seeks to be the provider of choice for the military community.”

2. Build the Right Team

Because leaders do not have the time and ability to execute the vision, it is essential that you have the right team in place. Your team members must be armed with tools, and given the authority, to implement the vision.

If you discover that a team member is not working out as hoped in a particular role, but he or she is a person of integrity, see if there is another role within your organization that might be a better fit. If that person does not uphold your organization’s core values, mission and vision, then it’s time to part ways. As the old saying goes, “Hire slow, but fire fast.”

3. Get Out of the Way

As the leader, your vision creates energy, enthusiasm and passion. On occasion, however, your vision can get diluted because you get in the way of those who are executing your vision. A gifted leader knows when to get out of the way to let his or her team design, build and execute.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., famously said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Lee Iacocca said, “I hire smart people and get out of their way.” While Peter Drucker said, “Tell people what you need, not what to do.”

4. Value People

Great leaders understand their gifts and recognize their limitations. They understand the importance of recognizing the accomplishments and talents of those who support their vision. The ability to value others is an essential ingredient of the successful leader.

Choose what you love to do and excel at, and then delegate your other duties to people around you who love those duties and excel at them. It’s important to resist the tendency to hire people who are just like us. Instead, hire people who excel in the areas in which you do not excel. Then value those team members, let them know you appreciate their talents and contributions, and compensate them well.

5. Ride the Wave of Chaos

Most people don’t like change. They feel comfortable with the status quo, even if it is stunting their personal growth and the growth of their agency or firm. Your challenge is to establish a culture that embraces innovation — a culture in which your team’s energy and excitement about the future vision will overshadow any nervousness and anxiety.

In today’s environment of constant and rapid change, disruption to your business processes potentially lurks around every corner. A recent Forbes article offers the following strategy for reacting to disruptive change:

A. Stabilize the Situation

Explain exactly what’s happening to everyone in the organization so they don’t blow the situation out of proportion and spread misinformation. Clarifying what the situation means will give your team a sense of relief.

B. Mobilize People Quickly

Run toward the disruption and actively engage it by directing other people’s actions. Think about a public emergency, such as a fire or an active-shooter situation: the first responders run toward the danger to conquer it, while everyone else runs away from the chaos. Leaders will always run toward it.

C. Capitalize on the Situation

Look for the opportunities, and discover what the new status quo makes possible that wasn’t possible before. It’s easy to complain about the change; it’s more difficult to embrace the change while helping everyone adjust their roles and responsibilities in a productive way. That’s what separates leaders from everyone else.

These five leadership skills set the tone and path for everything that happens in your firm or agency. To what extent are you focused on creating the vision; hiring the right people, getting out of their way and valuing them; and riding the wave of chaos in your organization? What other tasks are you spending your valuable time on that you could delegate to someone else who actually enjoys those tasks? A quick analysis of the way you spend your time will reveal to what extent you might need to adjust your priorities so that you are focusing on those high-level tasks that only you can, and should, perform.