Over the years I have had the opportunity of working with, and for, a variety of bosses and a variety of personalities. Some good, some bad, and some down-right meanies. All of them were leaders, but many did not possess effective leadership skills.
But what are the attributes of a good leader? In the eyes of an employee, the boss is in charge. He (ummm…she…) calls the shots. In the eyes of the boss, as well as his (errr…her…) cohorts , they cannot show weakness or vulnerability for fear of losing the respect of their employees. But do these observations translate to effective leadership? Hardly.
Now, as a boss myself, I have learned from my past work environments. I have picked up a few skills. Although I work at home, I do manage a staff of one. I am still the boss, but I am also human. Regardless of the work environment, location, and staff size, being a boss means you have to adapt.
Tactical Quality #1: Observe
The ability to observe without acting takes patience. It is our natural instinct to react when approached or provoked, especially when in a stressful or confrontational situation. Be patient and clearly observe the actions of others. Watch how people react to their given situation. Notice how people interact with others. Observe how others carry on their daily responsibilities. By observing others, you allow yourself to fully access any situation. This in turn allows you to make clear decisions.
Tactical Quality #2: Exude a Positive Image
Not necessarily in the physical sense, but in the sense of projecting a positive business image others can follow. Encourage ideas, motivate, and express sincerity. Show appreciation and reward your people appropriately.
Tactical Quality #3: Don’t Put Them at Your Mercy
When asking for something out of the ordinary work spectrum, such as time off to tend to family matters, an employee is vulnerable. Listen to their request and offer generosity and compassion. Don’t make them feel pathetic. They may already be going through a tough time. Show compassion and let them see your soft side.
Tactical Quality #4: Build A #1 Business Team
Hire the best and you will get the best. Take the time to screen your potential team members and weed out the ones that just don’t make the cut. This is your team. Make it the best it can be.
Tactical Quality #5: Be an Active Part of the Team
Don’t just slap some instructions onto an email and expect your team of great employees to get the job done to your expectations. Chances are great they will perform well, but being part of the team instills confidence. I not suggesting you be a micro-manager; just be available to participate and offer suggestions, answers, and guidance.
Tactical Quality #6: Be Straight and to the Point
Beating around the bush is not only tiresome for the recipient, but time consuming. By being straight and to the point in your expectations you will net better results. I remember having one boss who would talk in circles. Not literally spinning in circles as she talked, but splitting her sentences into short, unfinished bursts of commands and then concluding with “ya know what I mean?”. Eh….no. It was difficult to fully understand what she wanted. Make your point known from the beginning. Let your business partners, co-workers, employees know your expectations.
Tactical Quality #7: Talk Directly to the One Spoken to
Similar to being straight and to the point, it is important to talk directly to your intended recipient. Don’t play games by telling someone else to tell them. You do it. Talk directly to whomever it is you want to hear your voice. This will ensure you are heard and understood.
Tactical Quality #8: Successfully Solve Problems
Don’t dwell on problems; they will always arise. Utilize the skills of your team to identify deliberate, access, and resolve any problems. Communication is key to solving any problems and issues. And, speaking from experience, don’t point fingers. Realize that the one who may have created the problem brought it to your attention and is willing to fix it.
Tactical Quality #9: Don’t Be a Tyrant
There is no need to raise your voice, unless you’re teaching a classroom full of 9 year old boys. In the business world, shouting is unprofessional. You won’t gain anyone’s respect and you will come off as a tyrant. Just don’t do it.
Tactical Quality #10: Make Eye Contact
I picked up this skill from two sources, actually. When I was laid off from my last job, my boss couldn’t look me in the eyes when telling me the news. Maybe he was nervous. Maybe he was scared. Maybe he was sad. Who knows? I’ll never forget that moment, though. Not because I just lost my job, but because we didn’t make eye contact and therefore any future communications was tainted (so I felt). Two valuable lessons learned with making eye contact: trust and deeper understanding.
Being able to set the example and express yourself in a professional, yet comfortable, manner is vital to being a well-functioning business person. Some of these leadership qualities may not come naturally to you, but if you can master a few of them you’re sure to build better business relationships.
Kathleen Lewis is the founder and owner of EWomanWeb.com, a trusted resource dedicated to providing online job leads and work at home inspiration. She understands the trials and tribulations of working from home, and encourages others to act upon their desire to be their own boss.