Honing your strategic leadership skills is the most effective way to streamline operations between you, your team and building contractors. Why? It’s the difference between working under a manager and working under a leader. No one wants to be micromanaged, we want to feel empowered to fulfil our role to the best of our ability.
Decide whether you’ll be a leader or opt for the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach. While you might already be leading your team towards success, strategic leadership requires constant effort. Here are five things you can do to sharpen your leadership skills:
1. Lead by example
We’ve heard it time and time again, but practising what you preach is the defining characteristic of an excellent leader. Your priority is to earn the respect of your team, but if you’re putting in the bare minimum, it’s unfair to expect your employees to go above and beyond. Approaching your job with anything less than your all and your employees will follow suit. Without someone steering the ship, people are left to their own devices, which can lead to poor decisions and inferior work.
2. Become a master communicator
One of the major differences between a manager and a leader is an aptitude for effective communication. Good communication hinges on being able to understand individuals and it's your responsibility to pinpoint how each member of your team prefers you communicate with them. Your tone, language and general approach need to align with each person.
One of your team members may best respond to a casual, by-the-by deskside chat, while another may feel more comfortable with a one-on-one in a room away from colleagues. Clear and effective communication is key to motivating and empowering people and if you get this right, you’ll cut down on crossed-wires, increase efficiency and have everyone on the same page.
3. Respond rather than react
At some point or another, you or a member of your team will slip up. Mistakes happen – but it’s the way you respond to the situation that matters most. Dealing with a crisis is where your ability to provide strategic leadership comes under scrutiny. Instead of reacting to whatever situation is at hand, take a step back, leave emotion at the door and respond in a proactive, empathetic and pragmatic way. Heaping the blame on the guilty party – whether warranted or not – only serves to upset the rest of the team. Instead, talk through the situation, explore various options for moving forward and identify the reason behind the error.
4. Be a leader (even when you don't feel like one)
Strategic leadership is all about walking the walk. People depend on you regardless of whether your personal life is in a state of flux or not. You owe it to your team to leave your personal matters at the office door. Your team takes their cue from you and are sensitive to what you project, so make sure you’re leading with a positive approach.
Negative attitudes have a knock-on effect, lowering morale across your entire team. There will be times when you’ll need to grin and bear it for their sake.
5. Admit your mistakes (and learn from them)
Everyone drops the ball – it’s part and parcel of being human. But if you want to be known for your strategic leadership, you need to demonstrate resilience and transparency. Having a boss who Is open about the times they’ve made a mistake helps foster a sense of safety. If employees feel they’re able to admit to dropping the ball, they’re less likely to make these oversights in the first place.
When an error or misunderstanding occurs, make sure you discuss what went wrong, how it can be avoided, and what to take away from the situation. By reframing failure as a learning opportunity, you’re empowering your employees to do the same.
One more thing – choose the right suppliers
Another quality of a strategic leader is the ability to seek out like-minded vendors. Being able to discern between a quality, experienced painting contractor and those who provide sub-par services allows you and your team to focus on your daily tasks; cutting down on unnecessary hiccups and delays.