Develop Leadership Qualities

Quite a lot is required of a leader or a manager. You have to have a vision, be able to set targets, optimize processes, plan and organize well and lead, motivate, coach, and correct people… You want to get the best people in your team and then get the best out of them.

This requires leadership qualities

But if you want to develop your leadership skills, where do you start?

This question faced Mo. He has been working as a team lead at an IT company for two years. Before that he was an IT consultant. In terms of his profession, he had always continued to learn and develop, as opposed to leading.

In itself that went well, but recently he noticed that the performance of his team members was deteriorating or at least not improving. Especially in the field of customer focus and managing the workload, there was still room for improvement.

He realized he needed to help them with that more, but was unsure about how to do it. He also found it difficult to make time for it, because he was so consumed by the issues of the day.

Developing leadership qualities starts with personal leadership

Mo concluded that he needed to develop his leadership qualities because he understood that developing his team started with his own development, his personal leadership.

My answer to the question of which leadership qualities you should develop is, therefore: qualities that are needed now, in the daily practice of your work as a manager.

Mo told about his team:

They have strong soft skills in communication and expectation management. But most of my group is not that concerned with that. They are not good at it and do not see the point of it. I want them to understand it’s important. Because with that we can become even better as a team. ”

“Something must even be done about the high workload. Not everyone can handle that equally well. They have to learn to say “no” when it’s too much, to me and to customers. I call that pushing back. Otherwise, someone with burnout will soon drop out and nobody wants that. I have already explained that a few times, but nothing changes. So I have to take a different approach and motivate and guide them much more. ”

Change in the team requires a change from the leader

Mo realized that he had to treat his employees differently. That he had to develop other qualities than he had done so far and that he had to invest time in it. And above all: use his time differently.

He was busy all day with the content, putting out fires and answering questions, which got in the way of his people management. If he wanted to support his employees in their development, he had to make time for it to begin with.

Developing leadership qualities step by step

Step 1 – start with the intention to invest real time from NOW

Mo started with the intention to invest real time from now on. You may find it strange to see this as a separate step, but we often let ourselves be guided by the issues of the day. He wanted to avoid getting back into it by making a firm agreement with himself.

Step 2 – self-reflection

He started with self-reflection and looked critically at himself, his strengths, and his weaknesses.

Step 3 –

Asking for feedback He then asked for feedback from his employees and colleagues. This can be done, for example, through a 360-degree conversation, but also ‘normal’, through a number of good conversations.

This allowed him to test and sharpen his self-image. In addition, he kept asking “What do you need from me?”

Step 4 – setting goals and getting started

The previous steps revealed a few personal development points. Based on this, he set a number of goals, cut them down into small steps and set to work on his leadership development.

Team development is also a step-by-step process

Together we mapped out which development he wanted to make with his team and who / what could help with that. We also divided this process into small steps, and we formulated the leadership qualities of Mo that were needed at each step.

During this process, he ensured regular evaluation and measurement. By self-reflection and by asking others what they thought of the progress. He often used scale questions for this. The question of scale is a tool to make progress visible and to nuance it. You are asked to indicate on a scale from 0 to 10 where the person is in terms of progress towards the set goal.

He also focused better on his core tasks, delegated more and learned to manage his time better. In doing so, he freed up time that he could devote to his people.

Giving employees a key role, intensive coaching, and clear communication

Mo put the theme ‘work pressure’ on the weekly agenda. This increased awareness, as a result of which people saw its urgency and prioritized it more sharply. He also made a plan to develop customer focus, communication skills and expectation management step by step in his team.

In it, he gave the two people who had an affinity with it a key role and coached them intensively. So he delegated tasks to them and also made sure that his vision on this theme left nothing to be desired and that it remained in the spotlight.

In the beginning, he consciously looked for small successes to celebrate. For example, an e-mail from a customer with a compliment was extensively discussed in the team meeting. You noticed that things were changing, that people were moving, which was very motivating for both Mo and his team.

Fortunately, Mo is naturally empathetic and curious and a good listener. All competencies that come in handy in coaching. So that is where his strength lies and he wanted to make better use of it, which he succeeded.

“Where do I start now?”

Maybe, like Mo, you wonder where to start now. There are many leadership qualities, which will or should you focus on if you want to develop as a leader?

That is quite a quest. And it is related to your daily work. Whereby you also want to look at how the qualities match your character traits and your strengths.

The steps that Mo went through are a good process basis, but the content of the process is different for everyone. Because which leadership qualities you will develop is very personal.

Felix Tammi

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