Hearing the word leader or leadership can be scary for some yet exciting for others. Some people have planned to take on leadership roles, yet others were thrown into it unexpectedly.
I believe that everyone has been a leader at some point in their life whether they chose to or not.
Leadership roles are most commonly related to job opportunities. However, leadership occurs in volunteer projects, church, friendships, and in family dynamics. Even if you do not consider yourself a leader, if you reflect on the various roles you have in life, I am certain that you will find that you function as a leader in some facet.
As you contemplate how to become more effective in the roles you lead in, here are a few tips to help you along the way.
Be a Good Listener
Nothing is more frustrating than having a conversation with someone, but it seems like they are not listening to you. Perception is reality so be mindful of your body language when having a conversation.
Are you engaging with that person or are you looking at your computer or phone? Are you giving eye contact? Is your body in an open position with arms to your side or closed with your arms folded? Agreeing to have a discussion but not allowing yourself to be present can turn that conversation into a negative experience, leaving that person frustrated and with loss of engagement in their tasked duties.
As you become more aware and improve on your body language you must also pay attention to that person’s body language and tone of words used.
Does that person seem timid or confident? Does the tone and inflection of the words match the words being said? Think about all the ways that saying, “I love the idea” can come across. It can be said with enthusiasm that is confident or with doubt or even with sarcasm.
Being attentive to nonverbal skills can help to grow your relationship with that person by establishing a foundation of two-way open communication.
Just as you pay attention to body language and tone in a conversation, you also must be observant in what is going on around you.
Being a leader often causes you to be separated from others especially in an office setting. You may have an office while others do not or now may work on a different floor. Make a point to interact with others regularly. Have interactions that are not to just address what you need but to also inquire what they need.
In these interactions, make note of who is talking to who. Who is sitting alone? Who never stops working? What is the mood of the room? Do people seem upbeat? Do people seem down? Does a sense of fear seem to come over the room when you enter?
Making such observations can help you improve morale if needed before a significant event occurs. This also helps you avoid having interactions only when you have to “fix” an issue. You don’t want people to have a sense of dread and expectation of bad news when they see you. Be present and aware of what is going on around you.
As you listen and have open communication while observing what others around you are doing, you gain invaluable information that helps you to assign roles. As a leader, you will always have the next project that needs to get done. Sometimes, this happens before the current project has been completed.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of those around you can help to delegate duties to others who can help you instead of creating more work. It also helps to affirm with those around you that you see and value their gifts and talents.
People who feel needed and wanted often go above and beyond the call of duty when they feel valued.
Being observant can also help you avoid putting someone in a position to complete a task that they can’t handle. For example, you may have discovered in your interactions that the person who sits alone mostly does so because he or she works most effectively that way and is distracted when around too many people. This would not be a person you would want to put on a project that required a large group of people to complete together. You would want to appoint that person to something they can do within the project but independently.
On the other hand, during your interactions you may have discovered that the person working independently felt like others did not like him or her. You would then have an opportunity to improve interwork relationships before a major incident occurred while also bringing that person who, at their last job, excelled in large group projects.
It may be debatable if a leader needs to be considerate, but it is my opinion that they should be. Being considerate means being respectful, thoughtful, caring, sympathetic, and attentive.
The interactions that helped you glean the underlying reason for the person who sits alone likely had these characteristics. At minimum, you had to consider how the person felt and gave thought into what would be the best solution for managing the new project. However, if you choose to work alone and exhaust yourself by not delegating duties then being considerate may not be needed.
Being considerate can create a positive work environment and help boost others into being their best self thus performing their best work.
Being considerate helps you to understand what’s going on with those around you. You function as a part of the team instead of as a dictator. Being a part of the team demonstrates your willingness to serve.
You understand that the project or duties being performed are not just about you but for the cause. The completion of tasks is for the greater good. You are willing to step in when the team needs you. Because you listen, you are attentive when someone is not confident in their ability, and you build their confidence with open two-way communication.
Because you observe, you interact with others on a regular basis, you are able to see when more help is needed and be proactive in supporting your team. Because you delegate, you help to strengthen the team by acknowledging their value. Because you are considerate, the team desires to be their best self and put forth their best to get the job done.
You do not have to a special degree or feel like you are a leader to be a good leader. Everyone serves in a leadership role in some area of their life whether it is as a mom, a wife, a friend, a volunteer, an employee, or an entrepreneur. Be a good listener, be observant, delegate, be considerate, and serve. Putting these 5 tips into action will help you and those around you do amazing things!
Crystal A. Maxwell, MD, MBA, FAAFP is a board-certified family medicine physician with over ten years of experience. She is the Founder & CEO of LIGHT Family Wellness. She is also a wellness coach, author, speaker, wife, and mom. Her website is www.lightfamilywellness.com, and she can be followed on Instagram and Facebook @lightfamilywellness.
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