I have been blessed throughout my career to have worked with some of the best leaders I could have asked for. Here’s what I’ve learnt along the way about what it takes to be a good leader.

 

Be agile

There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to managing a team. In an agency environment, with multiple client accounts, each team member has a different level of skills and motivational needs. Recognizing an individual’s strengths and areas of development, as well as their areas of interest and what they want to focus on as part of their career progression means the best leaders adapt their style to ultimately ensure every team member feels motivated and recognized for their contribution.  Get that right and productivity flourishes.

 

Be attentive

Observe, listen and understand. Being attentive goes beyond knowing a person’s skillset. It means knowing the team well enough to recognize when something isn’t right. As we’re all navigating the ‘new normal’ of COVID-19, we all face our own set of personal challenges. The best leaders check in with their team often and provide each team member with a safe space to open up in case they are dealing with personal issues they may need support with.

 

Provide immediate feedback

Being a leader is about coaching and mentoring, and that means being honest with feedback. I’m a huge fan of providing (and receiving) immediate feedback. For example, has someone secured a fantastic opportunity for a client? Give credit where credit is due, and even better, highlight their successes to the wider team. Has an email been sent to a client that could have been worded slightly better?  Don’t wait until the next formal ‘appraisal’ as its likely that email is long forgotten.  The best leaders are always giving constructive feedback in a way that supports their team members to want to strive to be better.

 

Empower your team

I have been guilty of asking too many questions, more so in the early days of my career. For me, it was mainly to get validation of my ideas and ensure that I was on the right track. When I built enough confidence, the number of questions reduced.

My favourite response has always been ‘what do you think?’. This allows the team to feel empowered, share their thoughts and spark a discussion. The least helpful thing a leader can do is provide the whole solution – (a.) because while you may have more experience, you may not have all the answers and a healthy discussion can lead to an even better solution! And (b.) it empowers your team and encourages them to have a solutions-driven approach and think for themselves.

 

Lead by example

A great leader is one that can inspire, motivate and empower his/her team. The best way to inspire is by walking the talk. Everything from taking responsibility for their actions, having their teams’ back and continuously seeking knowledge to expand their own skillset.  Of all the leadership qualities, this is by far the most important.

We’re all on our own career development journey and you don’t need to be a CEO or manager to demonstrate leadership qualities.  These qualities are crucial to everyone working in a collaborative environment.  It all boils down to building a strong, trusting relationship with your team and having a continuous feedback loop to support each other to be the best we can all be.

 

When a leader gets this right, teams flourish – with positivity and productivity.