5 tips for developing effective leaders

A winning team rarely comes together spontaneously. It takes hard work, discipline, and effective team leadership. More specifically, an effective leader takes responsibility for ensuring that each individual within the team is in a position to be a contributing member, that collaborative team dynamics are supported, and that the overall business unit achieves results.

Effective team leaders are not magically transported to organizations. They are either recruited into organizations or developed through internal leadership programs. Whether it is done through an aggressive recruiting style or organic leadership growth, the key to finding or developing effective leaders is being proactive.

The most productive organizations are typically more proactive than their peers when it comes to identifying and developing effective leaders. Proactive organizations leverage tools and resources to help identify effective leaders. For example, Profiles International uses the following five common leadership or managerial success traits:

1. Communication

A leader with strong communication skills is able to instruct as well as listen. Leaders who can communicate effectively can process information and then relate it back to their teams clearly. Effective managers should be able to understand, decipher, and relate the organization’s vision back to their employees in order to maintain productivity. Conversely, ineffective communicators will miss the point of what they are being told, won’t be able to recognize the impact on their team, or will fail to share the message with their team.

2. Adaptability

The ability to adapt also contributes to a leader’s effectiveness. Leaders who are able to adjust quickly to unexpected circumstances can lead their teams to adapt as well. Adaptability also means that a leader can think creatively and find new solutions to old problems. It can also translate into the leader’s ability to manage stress accordingly without letting it derail his or her team’s success.

3. Relationship-building

Effective leaders should strive to build personal relationships with their teams. Employees are more likely to exceed expectations when they trust their leaders. When leaders establish a relationship with employees, it builds trust and employees feel valued. Valued employees are more willing to get the job done right and apply extra effort when it’s needed. These employees are also more likely to put forth the extra or discretionary effort necessary to get the job done and get it done well.

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4. Developing others

The best leaders know when their employees need more development and can ensure that those developmental opportunities are successful. Developing others involves cultivating employees’ talents and motivating them to channel their talents toward productivity.

5. Developing themselves

Finally, effective leaders are aware of their own personal development. In order to successfully develop and lead others, leaders must seek improvement in themselves. Leaders who are willing to continue to grow and learn and use their natural talents to the best of their ability will be able to encourage the same behavior in employees.

Discover leadership traits in your people

Effective leaders share several key characteristics in common, but they’re not easily identified by simply looking at a résumé or conducting an interview. This is why it’s a good idea to leverage additional screening or profile tools when attempting to find the best leader for your team. Whether they are recruiting externally or internally, organizations need to recognize the traits associated with effective leadership and then recruit or promote potential leaders based on those common traits, which have been proven to support success.

The highest-achieving employees do not always make the most effective leaders, but individuals who naturally exude these five attributes may be a more prudent investment.

Ragan Cheney is vice president, senior HR consultant at Associated Financial Group.

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