Leadership is an essential skill that is critical in many aspects in life, from a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or founder of a company, a project leader on a building site, an office manager, president of your local football club or on the board of your industry association.
No matter what role you are in, a good leader is one that brings about positive change, has a growth mind set to really make a difference and has the ability to inspire others to achieve the vision and goals.
What is leadership?
Many people think of leadership as the title someone has such as the Managing Director of their company or their ‘Team leader,’ but leadership is more than just a title.
Leadership is an important interpersonal skill and the ability of someone to be able to positively influence others and direct them towards achievement of shared goals.
A strong leader is able to engage their people to maximise their people’s potential to be better, communicate effectively, regularly solicit feedback and new ideas and have the ability to problem solve and react quickly to the changing environment.
Leadership versus Management
Although leadership is an important part of a manager’s role there is a significant difference between ‘leadership’ and ‘management.’ Management deals more with the administrative aspects of planning, organising, budgeting and making sure day to day tasks are being completed to achieve the business goals.
Leadership creates the vision and goals, persuades and motivates people to believe in the vision and to strive to achieve the goals. Leadership often will be involved in decisions on large scale transformations or changes such as entering a new product into a market or a merger or takeover, whereas, managers will plan and set up the business processes to enable successful transformations.
There is a difference between leadership and management but both are complementary skills and effective leaders need to be able to both lead and manage.
Core leadership skills are important when leading a team of people in an office environment.
Essential Skills for a leader in an office environment
Strong leadership skills are valuable in today’s ever-changing environment.
Becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight and can take many years of experience, coaching and working with a mentor to hone these skills. As we come through the other side of the pandemic, leaders are starting to plan to bring their people back to the office.
Here are some core leadership skills that are important when leading a team of people in an office environment.
— Being positive
A positive attitude, the way you conduct and present yourself around the office will have an effect on what is expected of the team. Teams look up to the way their leaders act and conduct themselves in specific situations. A positive attitude and the ability to have a ‘laugh’ when something doesn’t quite go to plan or simple acts of acknowledging your people when you first come into the office, asking how they are or about their holiday plans can provide a happy work environment which keeps your people motivated and likely to put in the extra hours when required. Being caring, friendly, empathetic and encouraging, can go a long way to developing a positive culture and rapport with your people.
Being able to clearly articulate what you want to achieve, from your vision, values and goals to developing positive relationships with your peers and staff and concise explanations on specific tasks, communication is one of the most important skills of a leader. Leaders are required to use all forms of nonverbal and verbal communication from speaking at large office events, public speaking, social media to one on one with peers and staff and emails. In an office environment many leaders have an ‘open door policy’ to let their staff know they are regularly available to hear any concerns and to encourage a flow of conversation between them and their staff.
Implementing your vision is essential for business success. Leaders who try to do this on their own will struggle and growth will be hard to come by. Being able to delegate tasks to the right people and trusting in your people to create what you visioned is a sign of an effective and strong leader.
— Be honest
As a leader, demonstrating key values of open, honest and ethical behaviour no matter if you are in the office or managing a virtual team is important for building trust and respect with your people. In an office environment, people can easily pick up if someone is being dishonest through sighting of inaction and conversations. News travels fast around an office!
— Safety leadership
The role of a leader is significant in creating a safe work environment and inspiring others to do so. Not only enforcing the legal obligations of safe work but having a workplace where their people are able to effectively do their work to their full potential. Leaders need to also provide a workplace free from bullying, harassment and discrimination and foster a culture of safety and innovation.
— Displaying commitment and confidence
No matter the size of the business there are always going to be good and bad days. It is a key skill for a leader to remain calm and show a level of confidence when problems arise, especially in an open office environment. If you are calm, your team will be as well, and morale will stay high.
The benefit of being in the office is you can take some time to see and work alongside your people. Allowing them to see your commitment to your role and all the work that is being done and them understanding that what they do is an important contributor to the achievement of the overall goals, will increase their motivation and commitment to the business. This will also ‘break the ice’ and enable your people to feel that they can come to you if they have any issues or concerns.
— Be flexible
Not all decisions will go to plan and last-minute changes will happen. A skill of a leader is to be flexible, accept changes that occur and have the creative solutions to solve any problems in a timely manner. Leaders need the confidence to trust in the decisions they make as your people will look to you for guidance. Being flexible is also about being open to receiving feedback and listening to any concerns your people may have. For example, a staff member may come to you to let you know a specific issue in the office that is a concern. Your people will respect and appreciate you for taking the time to talk through the issue and your openness to making changes if required.
Leadership is a valuable skill, especially in times like these and you do not have to be in a leadership role to develop these skills. They can be learned over time through job experience, looking beyond your current role to take up more responsibility and through training and development opportunities on areas you think you need to improve on. If you have the ability to inspire people, have them invested in what you would like to achieve, have an appreciation of all the hard work your people do for you and communicate well, you will go a long way to being an exceptional leader.