How to be an effective leader & polish leadership skills

In most professional career paths, there will come a time when an individual will be promoted or will get hired to become a leader, either as a supervisor, a manager, a CEO or a president. Being the ‘boss’ for the first time especially in a new company is a very exciting but challenging role. Many professionals who handled a new position which required them to direct, supervise, mentor, review and mingle with subordinates often find themselves drowning with a tremendous amount of pressure with no one to turn to for help.  Thus, it is important to acknowledge and understand the transitions that new leaders will experience as they come on board to their new roles.

In today’s business world, many companies are investing to programs that train and develop people to becoming the firm’s future leaders. Fresh graduates are hired as management trainees and are deployed and exposed to the organization’s different department and processes and undergo leadership skills enhancement trainings. After completing the program, they are assigned to a certain team as managers.

But not all leaders are trained to be managers right from the start of their jobs. People often get promoted or get hired for a higher position due to their individual contributions, performance at work, complexity and length of experience, attitude towards work and teammates, ethical beliefs and obedience to corporate values and regulations. Though these traits are good foundation in transitioning from being a contributor or a team player to becoming the head of a department or the manager, there are still rooms for improvement and a vast amount of knowledge to learn in order to surpass the challenges of becoming a leader. Some of the more recurring issues that new leaders are facing are managing their people, making sound decisions and taking risks, and having the burden of knowing and understanding all of the processes of the team.

Leadership Path

Let us first identify the most common difficulties that new leaders encounter in their day-to-day work setting and later raise insights on how they can address such issues as well as help them realize that they are not alone in developing their leadership skills.

  1. How to lead former teammates – Promotion is mostly given after performance evaluations among peers in an organization. When one gets promoted, relationship among the teammates might change drastically due to jealousy or awkwardness.
  2. What leadership style to adapt – Choosing the right kind of style to lead one team is often perplexing and challenging. New leaders are also agitated to use one style to one team member and a different style to another member.
  3. Fear of making decisions – One of the struggles of being a leader is developing the ability of making decisions. Some work related issues require quick decisions from the head of the team and a new leader oftentimes hesitate in calling the shots.
  4. Meeting the expectations from the upper management and subordinates – Balancing the requirements of the management and the competencies and needs of the team is a difficult task. It creates pressure and additional burden to new leaders as well.
  5. Questioning and improving the quality of work of the team members – Many subordinates get annoyed when their jobs are being questioned by their bosses more so when the new manager does the inquisition. They would reason out that they have been doing the process for so long and the manager, being new to the team has little knowledge of how things are done.
  6. Call out for help – Either from their own team or from co-managers, asking for help from others sometimes seem hard for new leaders. They are worried that when they ask for help, people may think that they are incompetent and do not deserve the position.

There are more scenarios that a new leader found to be troubling and become hindrances in developing themselves as effective managers. More often than not, these issues are only identified in exit interviews or when the new manager has rendered his resignation.

That is why organizations must also acknowledge the needs of newly promoted individuals and newly hired leaders. Below are certain action plans that can be effective tools in helping out the on-boarding managers.

  1. Ask them their weaknesses. The management can encourage the new leaders to share the aspects of their skills that need to be improved.
  2. Provide help. Once weaknesses are identified, the company can give help in order to enhance the skills of their leaders. Help can be in the form of trainings, mentoring or shadowing.
  3. Check on them every now and then. Checking on the new leaders with a specific timeline, say, after their 1st, 3rd, 6th and 12th month can be helpful in aligning their targets and goals.
  4. Provide feedback. Positive and negative feedbacks should be given by the higher management in order to make the new leaders know the things that they should keep doing and areas that they need to improve on.

The management can always hire or promote new people but more time and money are wasted in replacing ineffective leaders than making the new ones feel that they are valued, they are being supported and they are essential in the company’s success.

Nonetheless, the organization can provide support and offer tools such as trainings and mentors but if the mindset and perspective of the new leader are full of doubts and fears, leading a team will be very tough.

Knowing and accepting the below guidelines will then be useful for new leaders.

  1. Mixed leadership styles. A leader must know that the leadership style can be adjusted depending on the subordinates’ personalities and needs.
  2. Effective communication and setting boundaries. Talking to the team and setting boundaries is important especially in leading former peers. Knowing their needs and making them aware of your expectations will lead to a better workplace.
  3. Ask for help. There is nothing wrong in tapping employees to ask something, whether it is related to a process or in making a decision. It will even create a healthier relationship within the team since it will make the team members feel that their opinions are valued.
  4. Making and admitting mistakes. All people make mistakes and new leaders should not be afraid to commit one. Once made, a new leader should know how to handle the situation by acknowledging and learning from such errors.

Being a leader is never an easy task, more so if you are new to the position. It is then important that the organization, the management and the employees know and carry out their roles in helping out shape, train, and develop their leaders’ skills and qualities. With such support and a positive mindset, a new leader will soon develop to an effective leader.

Author Bio: Sarah Del Rosario is a private tutor from Apart from spending time teaching students, she also provides leadership guidance to them to help them achieve their full potential as business leaders someday.