15 Principles That Make All The Difference Between Being An Effective Leader & Just A Leader

Posted: December 4, 2019

Being a leader is not just about driving your team towards better performance – here are 15 principles to being a humane and effective leader.

Ever landed in a situation where you found yourself all alone, faced with the gigantic task of building a large team, and that too across various locations?

On top of that, have you ever felt the obstacle of your legs being pulled down incessantly to prove you wrong, just because you are a woman in a senior position? I too had gone through that ordeal of getting ground down between facing all the criticism, and corporate politics on one side and my own value system on the other side.

I am thankful for that tough time, as today I can write about 15 such principles that we as leaders should definitely follow, to earn both incredible success and huge respect amongst our team members coming from all places, castes, beliefs, backgrounds and classes.

The definition of success varies from person to person. For me, having respect and integrity as my top most priority, the path towards “my kind of success” was a little difficult and was considered as an old school kind of thinking. Since I was convinced about my moral stances, there was nothing which could shake my spirit towards “my kind of success”. Today, when I look back, I see a lot of perseverance, hard work and most importantly, right intentions, which garnered me my share of success which I still relish.

By ‘Right Intentions’, I clearly meant – intentions to keep learning, intentions to make genuine efforts towards whatever I was hired for, intentions to genuinely developing people and one self, and most important, intentions to not succumb to the adverse situation and compromise on my morals.

Here are a few tips to build and handle a large team successfully and create lifetime relationships with them. These are based on the real experiences which I had during my own beautiful learning and evolving journey.  

You are dealing with human beings 

Each of us is different but the commonality between you and your team is that you are all human beings. A people leader has to understand that he/she is dealing with human beings who are made of the same substance as himself or herself.

The pain, the sorrows, the happiness, health issues, family conditions and other life needs are the same irrespective of which side of the table you are on. So having a compassionate heart would definitely be a plus for a people leader. As a leader, you have to believe that your team is your second family, but at the same time, maintaining a balance would be even more important for the leader.

There would be situations where people may take you for granted or manipulate things to in their self-interest. So it is imperative for a leader to stick to his/her intuitive mind, organisational guidelines and policies and a sense of maintaining fairness within the team while handling any issue in the team.

Respect is of utmost importance

After getting to a position where you have the power of influencing others, the best way to do it is by sowing the seeds of respect. Eventually you may reap the same which will further strengthen the relationship between the leader and team. This is important for the leader to understand that s/he is at a position where he has to give a lot first to get back the rewards.

RESPECT is the ultimate need for almost everyone (barring a few whose philosophy revolves only around money and other materialistic goals), so the best way to build great relationships is to respect others. It is the seed which further blossoms in a beautiful flower of TRUST, an important element for a team to survive and flourish. It is also essential that respect and trust is built not only between the leader and the team but also within the team. Thus, the leader has an essential role to play in building a strong bond between the team members.

Appropriate standards for measuring individual abilities 

Each individual has their own qualities & strengths. Never judge and appraise them on the same scale. It’s your duty to identify each individual’s skill set and harness the maximum from their capabilities. There are various roles to be played in a job, so each individual, if identified with their own specific capabilities, would let the show run on for long.

Listen, listen and listen as much as possible without being judgmental

A leader has to be an amazing listener. For ensuring maximum engagement and bonding within the team, you have to ensure that your listening capabilities are broadened so that you get more and more ideas from different people, more and more concerns which opens up new horizons for you to establish yourself as a leader. There has to be a genuine ear and an absolute sense of safety given to them by not being judgmental.

Don’t shy away from discussing failure

Don’t shy away from sharing your failure stories and the learning thereafter, encouraging them to share theirs – it’s a myth that leaders create impact on their teams by sharing only their success stories. To connect with your team and build a genuine, honest relationship with them, never shy away from sharing your failure stories.

Emphasis on the failure and the resilience you showed in your life, boosts your people’s ability to learn from their failures. This is the best way to build their confidence. After all, your whole job is not only getting things done but also developing people and their confidence.

If they are new to you, you are equally new to them

Having apprehensions is natural. Always welcome the apprehensions and hesitation you notice from your team members when you are on the initial journey of forming a team. It’s a natural phenomenon and this initial journey will give you enough space to clear your own apprehensions and hesitation since you too would be new to them.

An effort to create fake relationships will not last long so it’s always advisable to give a good amount of space to yourself and your team to open up naturally and genuinely, without making any attempts to impress.

Walk the talk 

If you expect integrity from your team, display that first in yourself. Every action, conduct and decision of yours should display integrity, inspiring your team to at least try imitating that, which will at last become their practice and character.

Handling a team is like nurturing your kids and the value systems which you want to build in your kids have to be seen by them first. Your kids or your team will follow what they see in you and not what you tell them to follow. Building a culture is leader’s job and rest will automatically follow.

Zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour 

Never allow any inappropriate behaviour from your subordinates. Though it’s important to build a friendly relationship with them, it’s very important to draw a line of decorum so assertive and clear communication about the unacceptability of such behaviour is essential. This, I would say, is important in every relationship and so is equally important between a leader and his team. However fear should not used as a way to build a culture.

Give a second chance

Making mistakes is one’s right and learning from them is one’s responsibility. Keep your philosophy straight. If the philosophy is straight, people will not fear admitting their mistakes openly. Also always try to focus on the solutions rather than cribbing about the mistakes made. With this approach, the team would start thinking of the solutions whenever they commit a mistake and that would be the best way of learning and growth.

Be proud of and announce the smallest achievement of the team

This is definitely a very effective way to build a strong team. It not only helps them to build their confidence but also is effective in achieving set targets with the trust and confidence of their leader. Try and publish each and every achievement within the team to bring in a positive and productive competitiveness within the team.

Provide regular feedback 

It is imperative for the leader to be extremely regular in giving polite and assertive feedback to team members on their performance, progress and attitude. At the same time the leader should not shy away from seeking feedback from the teams. This gives a lot of confidence and trust in the leaders among the team members. Try and have a very healthy and productive discussion with your people. The benefit of this practice is that you will never face conflicts at the time of appraisals.

Be a coach

A leader doesn’t need to be team members’ agony aunt but they should be in a strong position of coaching them towards a solution in whatever phase of life they are in. What you give comes back in the form of their commitment and performance. Physical, mental and emotional safety is very essential for your employees and the leader is the only one who can provide that to them. It also happens many a times that a leader is supported by his/her team when they are undergoing some tough time in their life. The team becomes their family to support and boost their morale.

Stand for them 

Standing for them doesn’t mean supporting them to cover up mistakes but igniting a true sense in them that come what may, their leader would always stand by them to help, to guide them.

Never divulge one team member’s confidential information to another

Trust has to be intact. It’s of utmost importance for the leader to see that none of the information anyone has confided in them is leaked out to anyone. This is a huge responsibility and the leader has to be strong enough to digest the secrets of every individual.

Last but not the least,

Be willing to give people freedom to explore, learn and move on

There is a limited life for every leadership role. Once the roots are strengthened, give team members enough space to decide for themselves. Never obstruct their paths to move out, to learn new things. Be willing to build more leaders who can be your successor. Believe it that what they have learnt from you will be their practice and your legacy will shine through their work. 

Image via Pexels

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