Out in the world today, there are many books or guides on how to be a great leader and maximize proficiency from your employees. I have attempted to read a few in my days as a billing manager at a physician’s practice. They all tried to mold a leader that seemed unapproachable and of higher stature than everyone else. Some focused on leadership styles and others on how to give feedback. Leadership takes tact and honesty. There is no perfect leader but there are right environments for some different types of leaders. In a leadership role one, must assess that environment and see if they are up to the task to be the leader. Leading a retirement community and leading a fortune 500 company are completely different environments and require different leadership styles.
I completely agree with the article “The Indispensable Traits of a Collaborative Leader”, self-awareness and awareness about others is a key role in being a leader. Employees look up to the leaders for direction and guidance and being aware of their varying personalities works in the favor of the leader. One example is in the case of giving constructive feedback to the employee. Some employees don’t like to beat around the bush, they just want to hear direct feedback, whether good or bad, and then have a discussion. Whereas others need to hear positive affirmations first and then be given negative feedback. As a leader one is given the task of building confidence and guiding everyone to be an efficient worker. Shifting strategy based on the individual is beneficial.
Giving feedback in professional situations can be tough if you don’t know the person you are giving the feedback to. However, it is something that must be done in order to improve performance. Again, from personal experience most people do not know what happens to something after they have completed a certain task on an assignment. It goes somewhere else and out of sight, out of mind. If they knew that one small oversight had a domino effect on other projects, they may be less likely to make the error. One strategy is to help them see more of the big picture and show them they are part of the whole team, rather than just an individual. People want to be valued and respected which should be remembered when giving feedback.
Mentorship is a special type of leadership. Mentors can be formal or informal. People have had mentors their whole lives, whether or not they realize it. Whether it was being in a new school and having someone show you around, a co-worker that jumped in to show you the ropes, or an older family member who gave advice right when you needed it. I remember when new people moved to an Air Base, the military would provide a sponsor to show the family around. In college and in professional life mentors are everywhere. Some may not have the official title and some turn more into friendships. A mentor is invaluable and allows you to get a more experienced person’s perspective of something, be it school or career. Mentors are able to provide feedback and guide your growth in a new field of work. While this is often less formal than a supervisor giving feedback, the principles of leadership still apply to a mentor and it helps if mentors gets to know their mentees personalities. For a mentorship to work, both parties must be honest and upfront with each other and respect each other’s time. Also, once you become experienced, remember how helpful a mentor can be, so you can turn around and be a mentor too.