Many of us Millennials are getting to the point in our lives when we want to hold a leadership position. Whether at our job, on a sports team, or in a school club; we are ready to use our knowledge to make improvements for the future. Being an efficient leader is difficult though—just like anything else, you need to learn how to be good at it.
To help you on your way to becoming a great leader, here are the top ten qualities of efficient leaders in the 21st century that you should aspire to have!
Obviously, if you’re going to be a leader, you need to be passionate about what you do. Fully commit to your organization, whether that’s a company, team, or club. It’s also important to be committed to projects. Follow through on everything you start. If you make promises, do your best to deliver. Setting this example will encourage others to follow suit, and having a committed and passionate team is essential for success.
Keeping a positive attitude in the face of adversity is no easy task. However, if you are going to lead your team through tough times, it’s important that you set a good example. For example, if your volleyball team has lost five games in a row, it might be tempting to feel defeated when beginning a new match. As captain, you need to talk up your teammates and get them pumped for a good game. Remind them that previous losses don’t mean this match will go poorly. In other words, you need to be the master of pep talks. More than that, though, it’s helpful to the whole team if you exude positivity in everything you do.
If you are a respectful leader, then those under you will also respect your authority. Of course, it’s always important to respect those around you. However, when you are in a leadership position, you have to go the extra mile to show you value the members of your team who are under your supervision. If you don’t treat them well, then they will be less inclined to give their all.
A lot goes into being a respectful leader, including:
Being honest about executive decisions that affect the whole team. Transparency allows everyone to get a peek at your thought process and understand why you make the decisions you do. It shows that you value everyone enough to take the time to explain why you do what you do.
- Never bullying or abusing your power over other members of the team. This one is a give in. Be a leader, not a dictator.
- Offering kind but constructive criticism. One of the tough parts of being a leader is when you have to criticize something one of your team members has done. When this becomes necessary, it’s important that you make the criticism constructive and deliver it in a kind way. Even if you’re really angry, avoid yelling and using language that would degrade your team member. Instead, try to find something positive about the situation and lead with that. Then tell them what went wrong, why it was incorrect, and how to fix it for the future.
- Be approachable and open to feedback. Even as the leader, you’re not superhuman! We all make mistakes, and it’s important that your team feels comfortable discussing things with you. And, if you treat them with respect, when they provide this feedback they will be respectful towards you.
We’ve all heard the mantra that communication is necessary to build a healthy and enjoyable relationship. That includes professional relationships! An efficient leader needs to be a precise and honest communicator (and encourage everyone to be the same way) in order to create a cohesive and productive environment. You need to be able to convey your ideas both in writing and in speech. Leading meetings, writing reports, giving speeches—all of this will be part of your job.
This is also essential for creating a productive team. Many different things go into being an organized leader. For starters, you need to how to organize your life. Otherwise, there’s no way you’ll be able to shape a whole team of people! If you have difficulty with this, read Miss Millennia’s article on how to organize your life. Then, you need to be able to organize your team. Make sure everyone has enough space to do their own thing. Delegate tasks appropriately according to each person’s skill set. Create partnerships with people who work well together to avoid conflicts. Draft a schedule with due dates and goals, and set the expectation that it is followed. Without structure, being a leader can be stressful, so make sure to minimize the chaos!
Since you’re so attached to your position and your group, it can be difficult to not get too emotional. However, when times get tough, you also need to toughen up. Thinking logically through the problem is often the best way to find a good solution. That’s not to say that you need to completely ignore your instincts and emotions, but often those things can sometimes get in the way. Channel your inner Spock!
While you want to be logical, at the same time, you can’t be completely unemotional. You’re in charge of others, so you need to take them into account. The way you treat them and the decisions you make will have an effect on their emotions. Therefore, it’s important to praise publicly and criticize privately. When you do need to critique the work of a team member, do so with genuine concern for their performance. Don’t make things personal; instead, only remark on their professional performance. Make sure they know that the reason you’re giving this feedback is to allow them to improve, not tear them down.
Once you’ve logically thought through a situation, you need to make a decision. As the leader, you can’t be uncertain about what move to make next. This part of leadership can be very stressful because your decisions affect other people. That is why empathy is also an important trait. A truly efficient leader knows how to balance logic and empathy when working through a problem.
Being decisive doesn’t mean you have to do it all alone—if you need to, talk to others about options. At the end of the day, though, you will be the one to make the decision. Take your time when considering every angle so that you can be sure the path you choose is the best one. Then, you can be firm and confident in the choice you make.
All excellent leaders hold themselves accountable for their performance and that of their team members. When the time comes to make a difficult decision, you are then responsible for the effects your choice has. If things go wrong, you have to step up and fix the issue. You can’t simply blame it on others unless it is truly someone else’s fault. This is one way you can be a leader who is held accountable. Other ways include:
- Checking in on team members
- Offering feedback on everyone’s performance, including your own
- Evaluating effectiveness of policies and procedures
- Following up on offers you make to help others
Take advice from Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec, and be inspirational! A great leader will naturally motivate others to work hard and extend their personal boundaries. Set an example for yourself by being the kind of person who inspires you. Produce excellent work, brainstorm good ideas, and build a unified team. Be confident in your skills and capabilities. In other words, adopt the nine traits above and people will surely look up to you as a great leader.
Ultimately, you should strive to be the kind of leader you’d be excited to work for. If you work hard and have high standards, everyone around you will appreciate that and rise to the challenge. Adopt these ten traits, and you will be sure to be a stellar leader!