Regardless of the industry in which they work, there are certain universal characteristics that help make a great leader. Some are lucky enough to come by them naturally, but others must put in the effort to develop them. The first step towards that is recognizing what they are and evaluating yourself to see where you are strong or weak with them.
It really doesn’t matter if you run a bait shop or are a manager at USANA health sciences. At some point, your product or service has an end-user, which makes them your customer. That means that as a manager, you must provide them with outstanding customer service.
If your customer is dissatisfied due to a delivery error, defective unit, or anything and everything in between, the buck stops with you. Just as a manager in a retail store or restaurant must serve as both a human complaint box and a master-problem solver, you must be able to empathize with your client’s issues and arrive at a satisfying resolution that helps you keep their business without drastically affecting your bottom line.
Beyond fielding customer complaints, you must also be an excellent listener to effectively manage your staff. Your employees will have legitimate concerns, complaints, and suggestions from time to time, and you need to hear them out and provide guidance. In many cases, a member of your team may just need to vent or receive reassurance that they know what they are doing.
The only way to develop good listening habits is to practice. Let people speak to you without interrupting. Take in what they are saying, as opposed to just waiting for your turn to talk. Maintain eye-contact and provide proper feedback with your body language by nodding to show understanding. When the person is done speaking, ask them what, in a perfect world, they would like you to do to help them.
Great leaders are known for staying cool under pressure. This means that developing strong, confident decision-making skills is imperative. You may have half a dozen different scenarios flying at you at the same time, some requiring near-instant resolution. You must be able to make the right (or at least a good) call at a moment’s notice. If you need coaching and help on your managerial roles, you can ask for Sigmoid Curve coaching services.
The best way to develop this trait is to take a second to reset when you begin the process. Take a deep breath and avoid an urge to have a knee-jerk reaction. Ask relevant questions and consider the likely ramifications. If you find yourself with multiple courses of action that seem equal, commit to one, knowing that you will likely be happy with the outcome regardless.
Many great leaders seem to be effortlessly doing their job, or maybe not doing much of anything at all. This is because they’ve mastered the skill of delegation. Delegation involves empowering and assisting a subordinate to complete a task for which you are ultimately responsible. This can be hard for control freaks who want to do everything themselves.
While it may be noble to want to take on all your company’s problems, the sooner you realize that this is not only impractical but also impossible, the better off you will be. Delegators instill accountability with their employees. Managers who refuse to delegate risk burn-out and higher chances of errors.
Even if your business has a marketing or public relations firm on retainer, there may come times where, as the leader, you are expected to appear or answer questions as the face of the company. In these situations, you must have enough PR training to know how to answer or redirect difficult questions. At the very least, invest in some public speaking courses, and understand why it is critical to never speculate at a news conference.
Leadership is incredibly challenging and stressful. Mastering these skills will make your life as a business leader easier both by making you better at your job, but also by instilling greater confidence in the people who answer to you.