Is a leader born or made? For us, the answer is clear: it is developed. A good leader is a person willing to learn and grow constantly. Leadership skills change as the mentality and many cultural aspects of an entire society evolve. And in this sense, the new generations are looking for figures who inspire them to be better and who support them in their own personal and, above all, professional development.
Do you think you meet the requirements to be the leader that today’s teams demand? Find it out by answering some questions.
How do you know if you are a good leader? Start by answering the following questions:
- Are you an example for the rest?
- Do you promote the professional development of your team?
- Are you the captain of a team or a pirate ship?
- Do you solve problems or do you create them?
- Have you become the leader you wanted to be five years ago?
- Are you on the path to being the leader you intend to be?
How to know if you are a good leader by assessing your role in the team
As we have seen in previous articles, we know that there are several types of leadership; however, a quality that all must share is consistency. Set limits, appreciate certain behaviors, encourage the team to give their best according to what is expected of them and treat everyone the same way in the same type of situations: be consistent.
Favoritism is a problem when it comes to leadership, since the team expects the leader to implement and defend the values that will govern everyone equally, including himself. It’s a prerequisite for gaining the trust of the team.
That brings us to the second point: honesty. We must keep our word, not make empty promises or promises that are impossible to keep —nor try to cover up what we don’t agree with. A good leader does what he says he’s going to do and admits when he’s made a mistake. Teams are more committed if they perceive that their superiors are honest and have integrity.
Question: How do you think you influence your team?
- A: I try to be as open and transparent as possible so that I am perceived as a trustworthy figure.
- B: I try to interfere as little as possible with how they feel at work or about me as a leader.
Key: To be an example to others, the main thing is to be authentic. Research shows that, if a leader shows himself as he is with his team, and maintains a consistent and honest image, great results are achieved.
“If a leader shows himself as he is with his team, and maintains a consistent and honest image, great results are achieved”.
To begin with, the group’s identification with the leadership figure increases (i.e., we become an inspiration) and, therefore, commitment to the company increases. In addition, trust towards the person who shows authenticity grows and more positive relationships between colleagues are generated.
Do you promote the professional development of your team?
The ability to motivate employees is an indispensable ingredient when it comes to maintaining commitment to the company and ensuring talent retention. If we don’t do this, they become demotivated. And demotivation leads people to look for other goals, in other places, with other leaders to work with.
Furthermore, according to studies by the University of Warwick and the Wall Street Journal together with the Opener Institute for People, when professionals are motivated and satisfied with their job, they are 12% more productive and 31% more efficient.
That’s why recognizing a job well done is a very important point. Praising someone for a good performance improves their self-esteem and encourages their colleagues to trust them when working together.
Question: Do you often praise your team for a job well done?
- A: Yes, of course. I’m just talking to my team to comment on the good results they achieve.
- B: No, I’m afraid they’ll relax.
Key: In this case, neither is correct! While it is necessary for a leader to celebrate results or positive attitudes to keep his team motivated, he must also dare to verbalize and discern with the person concerned about the mistakes that are made. Omitting the bad things is detrimental to anyone’s professional development because we don’t change our way of doing things. The conclusion is that you have to praise in public and correct in private.
Are you the captain of a team or of a pirate ship?
We’ve seen it in dozens of sports movies: the success of a team lies in the team spirit. And who makes a group of individuals function as a single group striving for a common goal? The leader, the captain. That’s the key player, the one who delivers the motivational speech, who encourages them to excel and to stay together rowing in the same direction.
It works the same way in business. Building relationships that lead to a committed and cohesive team is the leader’s responsibility. Good working relationships increase employee engagement and, according to Gallup, companies with a high level of employee engagement have a 37% reduction in absenteeism and a 21% increase in productivity.
“Companies with a high level of employee engagement reduce absenteeism by 37% and increase productivity by 21%”.
But no matter how good the atmosphere in an office or how good the relationship between colleagues, conflicts can always arise. And they can occur between colleagues, with suppliers or with customers. In any case, answering the question of how to know if I am a good leader involves being able to identify and resolve, or at least mitigate, the problem before it has serious consequences. No one is interested in mutiny because we are not captains of a pirate ship.
Conflict management is undoubtedly one of the most important leadership skills. And here comes into play the ability to empathize with others and to make them understand each other. That’s why skills like negotiation are highly valued when it comes to leadership. Good negotiations will help find the best long-term solution by making the most of two opposing stances.
In this regard, another essential requirement is to be a good communicator. Conveying information effectively – knowing what to say and how to say it – leads to less conflict, better negotiation outcomes and fosters strong relationship building within the organization.
Question: Are you the person your employees go to when they have a problem?
- A: Only when it concerns me directly, I don’t want to butt in where I’m not wanted.
- B: Of course. They know they can count on me to listen, understand and try to help them solve the problem at hand.
Key: There is no doubt. The correct answer is B. The recommendation for being a good leader is to build trust among team members. Even when a negotiation is not acceptable to one of the parties, if the parties involved trust the negotiator, it will be easier for them to accept the outcome, whether it is in their favour or not.
How to know if I am a good leader when it comes to problem management
A leader makes decisions all the time. To be an effective leader, they must be sensible, rational and sound. Making an unpopular but necessary decision is probably one of the most difficult tasks as a manager….
Therefore, skills such as critical thinking will be indispensable to successfully lead an organization. Critical thinkers try to make intelligent choices and are highly analytical. Before making a decision, they research, examine as objectively as possible and take into account different outcomes. There is no room for improvisation or chance.
Question: How do you manage problems?
- A: I follow a process of analysis to find out what the best solution might be and then evaluate the results.
- B: I try to make a decision as quickly and efficiently as possible to prevent the problem from getting worse.
Key: John C. Maxwell can help us a lot on how to know if I am a good leader. In his book Develop the Leader in You (1996) he lays out the process to follow in order to solve issues. The steps are as follows: identify the problem, set priorities (go step by step), define the problem, choose the people who will help in the process, list all possible causes and all possible solutions, implement the best solution and evaluate it, and establish principles or policies to prevent problems from reoccurring.
Have you become the leader you wanted to be five years ago?
It’s time for self-assessment. We all have more or less in mind the qualities we’d like a great leader to have.
Many of them we’ve mentioned above, but there are still others that are really important to analyze.
Let’s talk, for example, about time management. Before reaching positions of greater responsibility, we all think that we will not make the mistakes that our superiors make. One of them is related to time and work-life balance. Sometimes, when obligations grow, the work-life balance becomes complicated.
A leader without the right time management skills can easily become overwhelmed and eventually burn out. Learning to organize and prioritize tasks is a must. And not only with your own, but also with your team’s tasks to be as efficient as possible.
This is also the point where knowing how to delegate comes into play. And no, it doesn’t mean offloading work to take away stress. Effective delegation refers to developing the skills of those people who have the potential to become future leaders.
Question: Can you handle all the responsibilities that come with being a leader?
- A: No, being able to take on all the obligations of this type of position is utopian. You have to be realistic and manage only what you can.
- B: Yes, I have a great team to lean on and help me figure out how to be a good leader.
Key: And again, the correct option is B. Being a leader on a team is not about concentrating power, it’s about knowing how to relinquish power. Team leaders are responsible for assigning tasks to the team. Better results can be achieved if the members of a work group function as cogs in the same machine. Together they can achieve individual and collective goals.
“Being a leader in a team is not about concentrating power, it’s about knowing how to give up power”.
Are you on the path to being the leader you intend to be?
A good leader tries to know himself, seeks to determine what his potential is and recognizes what points he needs to develop further. That’s why two of the greatest obstacles that a person can encounter in leading are complacency or arrogance. A leader must accept that there are things he or she has yet to learn. And it’s part of their job to further develop their leadership skills for their own benefit, as well as for the benefit of their team and their organization.
Innovation and creativity are the best guides for growth. To do this, it will be wise to find time in the agenda to sit and think without interruptions. This will help to organize your thoughts and set new goals: “Where do I want to go? Who do I want to become?”
Just as leaders help their team to develop, the team also helps the leader to grow. Therefore, another of the key features of a good manager is to listen to each of the ideas of his colleagues, try to identify which ones have potential and work together to take them forward.
Question: Are you on the path to being the leader you intend to be?
The answer to this question you will find out over time. For now, remember that to answer how to know if I am a good leader, the ability to learn is the starting point that helps us prepare for the challenges of the future.