(DGIwire) — People sometimes confuse “management” with “leadership.” A good manager should have some strong leadership qualities, but ultimately their job lies in maintenance. A manager has to make sure their team stays on the right path, whereas a leader is the one who creates that path in the first place—in his/her more visionary role. This said, a good leader would be nowhere without a good manager, and vice versa. Collaboration is critical for getting things done. A leader has to be able to delegate tasks and trust that their team will get them done.
But what exactly does a leader do? Assuming a leadership role, whether as owner or executive, you have implicitly agreed to become responsible for the direction of your company—and specifically the paths your team or organization take to achieve their goals. People will continuously rely on your vision as well as your decisive decision-making skills to do what is in the best interests of your company’s health and the bottom line.
Although decision-making as a leader might entail a wide array of components that can hardly be summarized in a few paragraphs, there are some basic attributes that can be observed across the board. Dian Griesel, President of DGI, based in New York City as well as the author of several books, knows from hands-on experience what it takes to be an effective leader today and what leaders need to look for in management.
“Each leader will lead in his or her own way,” says Griesel. “However, when you’re at the front of the room, and people are looking to you for the answers, there are a few basic skills that you should have in your tool kit. These include honesty and transparency, confidence and collaboration. These might seem like broad terms, but they are important enough to create a solid framework for everyone, and specific enough so that each person can put his or her own spin on them.”
It’s not enough to seem honest, Griesel elaborates, because most people will be able to see right through you. “If you find yourself approaching a task with ulterior motives, it might be time to step back and re-examine. Chances are, your team will sense you’re hiding something from them, and if they find out you’re not telling them the truth, your credibility will likely be shot for any future projects. Approaching your team with openness and honesty will prompt them to trust you more, and make them more likely to trust you in the future.”
Although it’s nearly impossible to please everyone on your team all the time, seriously considering their strengths and weaknesses—without sacrificing your own choices and opinions—will likely yield positive results and contribute to a good team dynamic. It will make the team more likely to trust you, and expedite future tasks.
Speaking of the future, it’s always a good idea to over prepare. This is more than having a “Plan B” scenario in mind, Griesel explains. She believes you should also have a good exit strategy just in case your decision doesn’t go as planned. “Flexibility will go a long way here. As hard as it might be, you need to leave your stubbornness at the door to become a good leader. Leaders tend to be strong-willed, which sometimes breeds obstinacy. A good way to do this is to view your decisions from an outsider’s vantage point. What do your team’s operations look like from above? Learning to step outside of yourself can be a very useful skill to view how others see you and remove some of your personal biases that could be keeping your team from achieving its goals.”
Many other business and thought leaders likewise believe there’s a big difference between confidence and arrogance, and that many leaders walk a thin line between the two. They warn that the moment your team senses arrogance, they will likely feel you don’t respect their opinions, which will make them lose respect for your authority. Confidence, on the other hand, is contagious. If your team senses that you are confident in your position and in your ability to make decisions, it might empower them to take on more tasks.
Even if a leader does have to backtrack on their decision, or implement a “Plan B” scenario, this shouldn’t negatively impact the leader’s confidence. Confidence transcends simply saying “yes” or “no”—it’s about having the self-assurance to admit faults or mistakes and not fall apart under the pressure.
“What it comes down to is that good leaders move the organization as a whole to achieve their tasks. This includes motivation, confidence and transparency,” says Griesel.
Although it seems like this skill is best-suited for the workplace, “leadership skills often come in handy during decision-making in every aspect of life,” she adds.