Achieving Healthy Leadership: a Guide You Didn’t Know You Needed

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Some people exude a leadership aura so much that they are often called “born leaders.” While it is true that some people’s personality traits make it easier for them to lead a group of people, you are not simply “born a leader.”

Being a leader is a skill, like every skill; can be learned and honed.

For a business owner, entrepreneur, manager, project leader, public speaker, etc., knowing how to lead a team is crucial.

We have gathered in this blog post some of the primary skills of a good leader.

 

Healthy Leadership: Definition

Having healthy leadership is hard. Indeed, there is a thin line between leadership and straight-up authoritarianism/dictatorship.

Being a good leader does not mean ruling with fear. Instead, we believe that healthy leadership is instead nurturing positive relationships with the group while being able to be firm when necessary. In other words, a good leader fosters the work environment and the well-being of their employees in order to increase the company’s performance.

History has shown on multiple occasions that ruling through fear is not sustainable (although arguably, some instances such as North Korea are challenging this statement, we still believe that healthy and sustained leadership should not be a dictatorship).

 

What are the characteristics of a good leader?

A good leader is someone who can:

 

Be approachable

As a leader, you want to develop a trusting relationship with the members of your team.

They should be able to trust you as much as you should be able to trust them. This relationship develops if you stay approachable. It does not necessarily mean to become your team members’ best friend who can listen to all their problems – although it is a possibility – it does mean that your workers feel like they can come to you in case of a problem.

If they fear getting a warning, or if they feel like you are getting annoyed at them when they come to you, this relationship of trust is close to inexistent, and the communication is absent, which, we can agree, is not the best for the teamwork.

 

Listen

A good leader should not impose their own decisions/opinion on others. Instead, they should listen to what people say, consider their opinion and implement changes when necessary.

Actively listening to someone is more laborious than it looks. Indeed, you do not want to “hear”, but you want to “listen”, which means that you want to totally immerse in the conversation, ask follow-up questions, and at the end of the discussion, fully understand the issue/opinion.

It calls for no distraction and scheduling time to be committed to the discussion. If it is not the right time for you to listen to someone – fatigue, busy schedule, negative emotions, etc. – reschedule the meeting while explaining why it is not the right time for you.

 

Guide

Rather than giving instructions and letting the workers figure out what they need to do, accompany them and guide them when they are stuck.

A leader should always aim to improve their team performance, which involves boosting individual skills.

Accompany your team when necessary, share your knowledge with them, assist them and rearrange the tasks.

 

Be Flexible

When leading their team, a leader should be able to adjust to impromptu events.

Life is full of surprises, and the work-life is no different, especially in young businesses and startups.

Jean de La Fontaine rightfully wrote in his fable “The Oak and the Reed”; that because the oak was too rigid, it broke when the storm came, while the reed, able to bend, got through the storm unharmed.

Be like the reed; in case of challenges, bend your ways and adapt yourself to each situation. Although it might be frustrating, the project completely failing because of the inability to adapt to a changing environment will be even more morally damaging for you and your team.

However, there is a thin line between “being flexible” and “being unorganized.” Being flexible does not mean changing directions on a whim every two hours. Plan your project thoroughly and only adapt when facing exceptional circumstances.

 

Focus on Problem-Solving

Or rather: Be Solution-Focused

As a famous saying states: “There is no problem, only solutions.”

A leader should always keep this statement in mind. When faced with a particularly challenging matter, some people undoubtedly feel discouraged or overly stressed. The role of the leader is to stay calm and analyze the situation while analyzing how to solve the issue.

Be creative! Solutions can take many forms.

 

Be Open-Minded

To lead a team of different people, the leader must be open-minded to all differences and embrace them. After all, the best ideas come from a melting pot of unalike personalities.

Moreover, to help every team member with their challenges, you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes and avoid judging them with your own bias.

Keeping your mind wide open is an obligation!

 

Give positive criticism

When a project, a task, or anything is over, take the time to give feedback. Do not solely focus on what could be improved, but also acknowledge what was positive.

As a team leader, you want to do better every time. It means acknowledging what has worked well or needs to be changed.

However, you want to avoid giving feedback ONLY when the project you are working on is complete. Indeed, your worker should not be surprised by the final feedback.

If something is not going well, allocate time to talk with the worker(s). Additionally, if things are going well, acknowledge the advancements. With those types of “mid-project meetings,” you might also uncover some other challenges workers face during their work!

 

Take criticism

As much as they should be able to give feedback, good leaders should be able to take criticism and improve themselves when it is needed.

Everyone is human, including the leader. It is expected that leaders make mistakes sometimes. When it is the case, workers should not be afraid to give the leader feedback.

 

Make decisions.

Ultimately, a leader should be able to make a decision, even if it is hard. Listening to all group members is crucial but deciding what to do and following what everyone has mentioned is even more critical. Sometimes, the decision will not please everyone, but the leader should sometimes endorse the “bad role.”

 

Conclusion

Being a leader is not something you are born with or can be acquired smoothly. On the contrary, healthy leadership aptitudes are nurtured and honed over time.

The keyword is practice! You WILL make mistakes, but if you learn from them, mistakes are only stepping stones to self-improvement!

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