Style and charisma, as well as empathy and management skills. Here’s how to become the perfect leader
What does it mean to be a leader?
A leader is a professional figure that is often associated and linked to other tasks and roles, enabling the optimization of business productivity by acting on the skills of employees.
In other words, leadership is that extra element capable of maximizing output while minimizing the use of resources.
In full compliance with the view of “less is more,” a successful leader surrounds himself or herself with employees who, thanks – in part – to innate skills, work in the achievement of a common goal by canceling – or almost canceling – efforts.
Each of us possesses innate skills, and others we acquire through experience; the leader manages to intercept one and the other and incorporates them – where it would be useful – into his team, so as to make the work environment and the achievement of a given goal less challenging.
When an obstacle arises, he chooses to deploy a well-defined approach to keep the team motivated and incentivize continued work.
Difference between leader and boss
Leader, the professional figure capable of leading a team of people toward the same goal.
Boss pivot and essence of a company, the figure in charge, who chooses to impose his idea without ifs and buts, emphasizes his superiority and gives orders, sometimes even to the leader who shapes them in the best way to be communicated to his team.
The leader relies heavily on empathy and positivity, the boss chooses to achieve goals without getting emotions in the way.
On the one hand, a figure capable of emphasizing and highlighting differences encounters – and clashes with – the need to unify the work group with a view to maximum complicity and empathy.
After all, these are the two characteristics that best represent the operation of any leader: motivating people before motivating himself.
The boss is more focused-for a variety of reasons-on himself, on his own professional development; the leader, on the other hand, finds benefit in making the whole team better.
What are the characteristics of the leader?
Energy, creativity, alternative vision, trust and empathy.
The characteristics that revolve around the figure of the leader are essentially these; various scholars have tried to define a perfect leader, and currents of thought have a common denominator: being a leader.
In theory and practice, a good leader chooses to lead by example, to show his or her work team that they are an integral part of a puzzle, without elevating themselves to mere packaging but to be part of the cog called a company.
By empowering others, delegating what another person can best perform by virtue of his or her own abilities, communicating effectively and making complex decisions, achievement becomes a direct consequence of a group of people’s method of work and is amplified, compared with the mere performance of a single individual.
Daniel Goleman is an American psychologist who devoted part of his studies to analyses of corporate hierarchy noting repeated patterns that allowed him to identify six different types of leaders.
Little importance is relegated to the core business, discrete importance is relegated to the mission, for Goleman what acquires essential value is the vision, and it is through the leader’s attentive gaze that it is best realized.
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The visionary leader
Chooses delegation as the main conduit because he has full confidence in his chosen team.
He delegates and supports, thus strengthening the potential of even the most insecure individuals.
His working method allows him to be constantly updated on the progress of the project and at the same time to send any feedback and observations necessary to achieve the result to the best of potential.
The democratic leader
Uses constructive confrontation as an essential means of relating to the work team.
Expresses utmost trust in co-workers and supports them while demonstrating responsibility and becoming an active member of the group.
The leader coach
Stands out for his ability to set up easy and simple communication.
He chooses to convey his principles through images, metaphors and memories so as to awaken skillful teamwork.
The group becomes cohesive and double-binds due to the presence of the coach who leads the group by conveying confidence and competence.
The demanding leader
Conveys to the group the need to be responsible for part of the work, for one’s role, and where he or she notices shortcomings he or she chooses to intervene by showing how to solve the obstacle that arises.
The relationship is the essential element in creating good communication directed toward achieving the goal.
The affiliate leader
The particular type chooses to surround itself with a team that although not very capable for a variety of reasons, has excellent room for growth, in this way the affiliate leader becomes a kind of mentor.
He chooses to focus almost entirely on communication by creating the so-called emotional bonds that arise from gratitude in acquiring new knowledge.
The authoritarian leader
Similar to the demanding leader, the authoritarian version tends to impart its working model without much explanation.
His goal is to achieve a result, and he tries to empathize with his employees by challenging them.
His role is very similar to that of a “boss” and not very close to the leader coach.
Thinking and acting as a leader, how do you do it?
To optimize the work activity aimed at achieving a particular project, it is essential that the leader chooses to follow a clear and precise line that is easy for the team to understand.
If the figure wavers or shows fear, the emotion is directly transmitted to the work group that is why it is essential that the project be studied in the smallest detail so that any obstacles are resolved before they become apparent.
The only unknown remains the external environmental factor which, although it can be limited, in terms of invasion into the individual project, can hardly be foreseen in toto.
Acting as a leader therefore means learning how best to manage different emotions and interfacing with the team activates an often automatic human behavior termed “emotional contagion.”
This attitude is essential especially in the early stages, when you are creating the team or about to embark on a new business journey, characterized by different phases, you need to follow carefully to achieve the goal by optimizing efforts.
One’s expectations are also – sometimes especially – manifested through body language, as well as the ability to express one’s thoughts in the most useful and simple manner.
The emotions one experiences are transmitted, so it is necessary to learn how to contain them and shape one’s thinking to remain in a purposeful and positive mode.
The leader chooses to ask questions in the correct manner, and correct means a simple and clear mode that becomes a point of confrontation for the interlocutor, without raising defensive barriers.
In order to make this happen, even and especially, when “uncomfortable” concepts are exclaimed, it is necessary to apply certain mechanisms that dampen emotions and allow one to maintain better control.
Nonverbal communication management is activated by paying attention to:
- the tone of voice and pauses, better to scan the words and use a deep tone and use a slow pace
- inflection must be relaxed and friendly
- A smile is a perfect mitigating factor combined with eye contact and an upright posture
Silence and listening
The moment of silence is the most complex to train.
Immediately after making the request, it is necessary to learn and wait for the other person to express their full thoughts without interrupting.
The action of being silent is combined with active listening, which becomes an excellent ally in knowing what terms and type of language our interlocutor uses.
If he often uses metaphors, it will be good to use them to best express a concept, otherwise it may be hostile.
Negotiating the objection
Accepting the objection is the third stage of the strategy.
After setting up a method for making a claim, understanding how to listen to the interlocutor’s reasons serves to put the last phase into action.
Confidence in one’s beliefs arising from a thorough analysis of the project, becomes a strength to support one’s thesis and expound it in a meaningful way so as to resolve any objections or to gather constructive criticism as tools for growth and not slowing down.
Acting effectively: the 4-criteria model
The leader chooses to move using a definite pattern, to which he or she adds his or her own skills that are the result of personal gifts and experience gained in the field.
Often it is necessary to observe the environment and the situation in order to act best, but at other times the focus remains fixed on the project and the achievement of intermediate goals, even before the final result.
The actions to be taken are simple and clear, just as the communication that the leader brings to bear must be.
The first element to be resolved is context.
The leader must ask, “What can I do at this time and place with the tools I possess?”
Having resolved the doubt here is where the first obstacle is overcome, since through observing the surroundings the resources needed to achieve the goal can be found and used.
This phase is also useful and functional for the team as it allows them to notice-and follow the example-of how it is essential to rely on their surroundings as well to accomplish a task.
Time is money, this maxim becomes pure essence for a leader who, thanks to good planning can have the progress of the work under control and at the same time be able to highlight any hiccups and obstacles.
Time management also becomes essential for another factor, which is the ability to delegate, each team member can thus become part of the necessary and planned timeline for the achievement of a common goal, in this way the group feeling is strengthened and the unique importance of the individual member is diminished.
Enthusiasm often becomes an enemy, caught in an irrepressible urge to start seeing results there is a risk of investing too much energy in elements that, although integral to the project, may be delegated or treated with less care and attention.
Energy moves hand in hand with proper planning and communication; investing too much time in a busy trip with a tight time line, or spending time discussing the budget creating endless arguments, becomes counterproductive.
That is why it is necessary to carefully weigh time and context so that energy is used as a source and not as a reserve.
It is said that creative minds live in chaos, yet the maxim belongs only to certain types of leadership.
It often happens that respected leaders choose to surround themselves with order and organize their spaces by having at first glance what is in the project timeline, most urgent.
In a kind of mental map and sometimes physical blackboard, here is the need to put in writing the path already taken and the path yet to be taken to emphasize what is really urgent from what can – temporarily – be postponed and delegated.
The leader’s planning: horizontal and vertical
Having defined the procedure, it is necessary to go a step further and deal with planning, which can take different forms: horizontal and vertical.
The project, the composition of the team and the analysis of the elements involved throughout the process allow one or the other planning to be elected.
The leader must be aware of the different procedures so as to use them to the best advantage and make the path to the goal as functional and simple as possible.
The absolute truth is that for a leader to keep his or her status intact, he or she must plan his or her route.
By analyzing the journey, he can find any weaknesses and fix them, or delegate some work to other team members who have demonstrated or hinted at their potential.
Thus, planning becomes an essential element in the project puzzle that is composed of different aspects and structures.
Horizontal planning consists of 5 elements: highlighting macro elements, analyzing them in every aspect, organizing intermediate steps, checking possible alternative solutions, and taking action.
This method is called horizontal because it must be carried out in close contact with the rest of the team, so as to enable teamwork and at the same time amplify results while substantially reducing the time taken to deal with each step.
A meeting and point-by-point analysis allow every element and obstacle of the project to be put down on paper, which, when analyzed in sharing with the team, zeroes in on the risk of possible future objections.
Once the problem is ironed out, there goes the next step, and once the last step is reached, the practice and work can begin in the clearest and most useful way possible.
Vertical planning is triggered when the project features a specific element that needs the union of a multitude of details.
Another time when it is useful to choose the vertical version is when you want to delve deeper into an aspect of the path taken to achieve the project.
In other words, vertical planning serves to bring to light details that did not emerge in horizontal planning.
On the one hand, one chooses to define the boundaries of the route, and on the other, any stops are identified and choices are weighted to perfection, so as to plan as best as possible while minimizing the margin of error and optimizing efforts.
The composition is dictated by defining the single goal, full compliance with generic and specific business principles, visualization of the project in all its sides, analysis of possible alternative solutions, assumptions on the next actions to be taken.
From boss to leader: 5 rules
The figure of the leader is essential and allows the company to grow through strengthening the vision and the group’s desire to pursue a common goal.
The boss, that is, the figure at the head of the company must and can put himself in the forefront of shaping his status by trying to transform himself into an effective leader.
It is often the case that in companies of a certain level and medium to large size, the boss is an element quite distinct from the leader, and within the same company several leaders coexist, each leading a specific area.
However, much of the corporate strength lies in the boss who, by dictating his or her own decisions, may prefer better performing methods to empower leaders while becoming a leader himself or herself to emulate.
To make this happen, rules need to be followed and enforced to shape and change the business patterns present in the structure.
The mind like water: every person in any given day is submerged by an innumerable amount of information, some inputs although decontextualized, allow essential and useful changes to be made. It is necessary to fine-tune a new thinking model that allows for better organization: water chooses to follow a previously structured path and flood the environment when it is calibrated correctly, the same must be done for information so that it is channeled in the right directions without unnecessary dispersion.
Empathy and smiling. It may seem a slight and bizarre topic to juxtapose business productivity with smiling, yet it has been proven that a smile – sincere and not a matter of circumstance, allows those in front of you to lower their defenses and welcome objections – properly communicated – with different perceptions aimed at empowerment.
Clarity in role and working method. Another element that differentiates bosses and leaders is the ability to define limits and boundaries of each, although it seems counterproductive to choose to put boundaries in a team that should be cohesive, here is where clarity becomes an element of unity rather than division.
Carry out briefs to take stock of the situation, allow the team to get a general overview of the project and the stages of progress, share and engage.
This is how a simple meeting allows you to emphasize the intermediate milestone achieved and be able to go further while keeping the growth perspective intact.
Sharing also means pointing out doubts and misgivings that, while offering the individual a chance to get out of the shell of his or her comfort zone, also allow the now-leading boss to notice other points of view that would otherwise remain unresolved.
Trust and consideration
Consideration of human capital is an essential element in the corporate culture-and beyond-of a boss modeled as a leader.
The ability to give trust becomes a perfect tool for increasing the consideration and enhancement of the work and soft skills of company members.
Thanks to this element, the individual member’s putting into play is enriched with potential and drive as he or she sees his or her human value recognized.
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