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What makes a good leader? Here are some practical tips to hone your leadership skills

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Corporates are always on the lookout for professionals who understand that leadership is about performing as a team rather than hogging the limelight on every instance.

What makes a good leader? Here are some practical tips to hone your leadership skills
While students can get away being a one-man-show with their college project work, it is impractical and unwise to replicate the same within professionally run teams. Corporates are always on the lookout for professionals who understand that leadership is about performing as a team rather than hogging the limelight on every instance. Thus, a sound leadership remains the single most important guiding light for any team. Able leaders are those who are efficient communicators, can delegate work, are honest to pinpoint the problem areas and flexible to implement the correct resolutions. Here we shall look at some key skills one can develop en route to becoming a leader:
Decision-making
: In addition to the technical expertise, decision-making as a skill gets tested the most during an interview. Clarity in examining various options at hand and determining the best solution is widely appreciated. One must train early on to master this art. Start by identifying the opportunity and weighing alternative decisions at hand. In order to choose the right option, one has to be aware of all relevant information regarding the subject matter. Thus, decision-making also necessitates one to rely on facts and data rather than a ‘hunch’. Analysing the impact of the said decision and preparing against possible repercussions come as second nature to great leaders. Surprisingly, in case of most failures, managers have tend to misidentify the problem itself. While in other cases, leaders have been a victim of excessive data, leaving them confused.
Focus: Successful leaders are sharp and ably focussed on their targets. By virtue of knowing ‘What not to do’, they can shut out the noise in their head. This allows them to build upon their strengths. Such leaders are great planners; they not only achieve short-term goals but also realise long-term vision. As is evident from major corporate failures, regularly digressing from company vision is a recipe for disaster. Great organisations have gone about their businesses, saying ‘no’ to a lot many ideas. Managers within these organisations know exactly what their company is and is not. Owing to this intensive training and a superior understanding of ‘company culture’, such organisations are more likely to pick an in-house manager as their next leader. For budding managers, developing a single-minded focus in achieving their targets is of utmost importance. Over a period, such managers develop self-learning ability to keep themselves up to date with their subject matter.
People skills: A leader’s job is doubly intensive, as s/he not only manages own tasks but also ensures every team member is comfortable working with each other. Thus, a leader has to be approachable. Being aloof or indifferent to team’s needs could create multiple power-centres or worse, a complete breakdown of information flow leading to a spectacular failure. A simple ‘thank-you’ or ‘pat-on-back’ can go a long way in inspiring the team to give their best. Most respected leaders impress a considerate and down-to-earth attitude upon their teammates. Such leaders show exemplary patience with fresh graduates while putting their trust and delegating important work within rest of the team. Actually, these leaders are building ‘a family’ away from the family.
Accountability: While a team can have hundreds of members, the manager remains its public face. Thus, the manager is responsible for the success or failure of the team. A great leader will always be ready to take the blame for failure while letting his team members enjoy the limelight of success. One of the key aspects of leadership is to acknowledge mistakes and devise solutions against them. Great leaders listen to, act upon feedback from team members, and spend time on reflecting upon their decisions. They are transparent in their dealings and lead by example. In addition, successful leaders take it upon themselves to ensure the continuous growth of their team members. They go the extra mile to nominate training programmes for their teams. Thus, lifting their team members up the corporate ladder as they go about their work.
Having discussed some of the key traits related to Leadership, it is important to note that practising these traits in daily lives is as much important as during office hours. The aim is to grow not only professionally but also personally. Finally, if you are one of the lucky ones to be working under a good leader, there is a treasure-trove worth learning from their approach towards problem solving and work ethics. Hang on to them!
Nilesh Gaikwad is Country Manager India at EDHEC Business School, France. He can be reached at nilesh.gaikwad@edhec.edu
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