Leadership to-do list

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Listen, read between the lines, communicate, understand your style, and don’t forget to set the tone, solve the crisis, and do the right thing.

There is a difference between being a manager versus being a leader. Managers manage the process and ensure that budgets and systems are followed so that the operation of the business flows smoothly. Managers are the people who dot the I’s and cross the T’s.

Leaders, on the other hand, rise above the fray and set the tone for the organization. They listen twice as much as they talk. And, in a crisis, they are always looked to for solutions and guidance.

Leaders have followers and managers have employees.

The great Peter Drucker, considered by many to be the father of modern management, said that “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Here are four steps that can help to solidify your position as a strong leader.

  1. Great leaders are listeners. One of the best descriptions of Winston Churchill was that he was probably as good a listener as he was a speaker. It was documented during the war that even with everything going on around him, Churchill probably spent more time taking meetings and listening to people in his cabinet, and ordinary citizens, rather than speaking. This could be one reason why Churchill was so convincing both for the public and the U.K. government.
  2. Great leaders read between the lines. Sometimes the unspoken word is just as loud as the spoken word. Body language, facial expressions, voice and tone, and micro-expressions all play into this process. A good leader can process this information and respond appropriately.
  3. Great leaders are good communicators. It’s not just the ability to get up in front of a crowd of people and say great things in a clear and eloquent nature. A great leader has to communicate clearly and effectively to one person just as well as they do to a group of people. Former President Bill Clinton, love him or hate him, had that ability. He could speak to large audiences and zero in on one person in the room and make them feel like he was speaking directly to them.
  4. Great leaders understand their leadership style. There are many leadership styles out there, and we would quickly run out of room in this article trying to list them all. But it’s important for leaders to understand their personality and leadership style because it will play into how they interact with the people they work with.

Here are eight identifiable leadership styles and the pros and cons of each:

  1. Autocratic. Benefits those that require close supervision. Not good for creatives.
  2. Task-oriented. Put strong structures in place. Tends to be autocratic.
  3. Transformational. Inspiring. Less detailed.
  4. Charismatic. Communicates well with strong emotional ties. Too much reliance on the leader.
  5. Bureaucratic. By the book. Usually not good for flexibility, creativity, or innovation.
  6. Democratic. Everyone has a voice. Can be difficult to make a decision.
  7. Servant leader. Lead from behind. This type of leader doesn’t mix well with other leadership styles.
  8. Laissez-faire. Works well in the highly creative environment. No real leadership or supervision efforts.

See if any of them apply to you.

Listen, you don’t have to be Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, or Richard Branson to be a great leader, but you should consider working on these four steps to ensure that the foundation of your leadership capabilities is solid.

We recently rolled out a new training program on Leadership Skills for AEC Professionals where we go into great depth on these topics and more. If you have any questions, you can contact me anytime.

Randy Wilburn is director of recruiting strategy at Zweig Group. Contact him at rwilburn@zweiggroup.com.

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