Leadership is difficult to define. It’s an abstract concept that evokes as many different reactions as there are different kinds of people. Yet most of us know good leadership when we see it, and we can often tell when good leadership is missing by the way a team or organization struggles without it.
At Toastmasters, our leadership training program identifies the following areas as essential to quality, effective leadership:
- Mission. A clear mission helps the leader to focus the team so that they can ignore distractions and pay attention to what’s most important.
- Values. When a leader demonstrates values that are in sync with the company’s mission and the team’s goals, everyone benefits.
- Planning and goal-setting. With clear goals and effective planning, leaders make their expectations understood and team members know what to do at all times.
- Delegating authority. The job of leadership is usually too big to handle alone. By sharing responsibilities with the team, a leader instills a sense of purpose and empowerment.
- Team building. Establishing trust, playing to individual strengths, encouraging people to work together – all are important aspects of team building.
- Giving feedback. Constructive, concise and timely feedback is essential to each team member’s success, and to the success of the team as a whole.
- Coaching team members. A good leader must take on the role of trainer now and then, providing expert advice, encouragement and suggestions for improvement.
- Motivating people. By providing a good example, learning each team member’s needs and giving rewards and incentives when appropriate, a leader can inspire people to achieve higher levels of performance.
- Working for the team. Great leaders encourage participation, facilitate communication and provide an environment where team success is more likely to occur.
- Resolving conflict. Conflict between team members is inevitable, and not always a bad thing. A leader’s job is to resolve the conflict in a just and reasonable way so that productivity and morale do not suffer.