At the heart of leadership is the ability to influence, motivate, and inspire othersthrough direct or indirect ways to achieve organizational goals. Leadership competencies for managers seeking to develop their teams include ensuring that the lines of communication stay open between themselves and their employees.
As companies face complex challenges in an ever-evolving marketplace, clear and effective communication has become more essential than ever. It’s not enough to have the latest product innovation. Organizations must first ensure that their greatest assets, their employees, are happy and driven to accomplish their goals. One of the worst fears is losing talented employees to competitors for any reason, but especially when it’s a basic internal issue of poor communication.
An extensive study of nearly 25,000 managers in 100 organizations spanning over thirty different industries revealed the top ten leadership competencies (in order of importance):
Leading employees: Defined as delegating to employees effectively, broadening employee opportunities, acting with fairness toward direct reports, and hiring talented people for the team.
Building relationships: Defined as knowing how to build and maintain working relationships with coworkers and being able to handle problems without alienating people.
Risk-taking: Defined as seizing new opportunities, generating new ideas, and introducing and creating change in the face of opposition.
Change management: A leadership competency defined as using effective strategies to facilitate organizational change initiatives and overcoming resistance to change.
Influence: Defined as being good at inspiring and promoting a vision, and being able to persuade and motivate others.
Communicating information: Defined as effectively communicating organization goals and being able to inspire through presentation of information (being articulate, being a good speaker, and having good writing skills).
Brings out the best in people: Defined as displaying a talent with employees that is evident in his or her ability to pull people together into highly effective teams.
Making decisions: A leadership competency defined as being action-oriented, decisive, and following through.
Listening: Defined as being a willing and patient listener and being open to feedback.
Flexibility: Defined as seriously evaluating other ideas, sharing responsibility, collaborating with others, accepting criticism well, and not assuming a single best way.
All of these leadership competencies can be summarized by the effective use of one constant characteristic: communication. To ensure good communication, managers need to not only encourage their employees to speak freely; they must insist it! The best managers clarify and verify. They make sure what they say is truly heard, what they hear is truly said, and how both individual and team concerns can be used to achieve the greater goal.
Managers must be as progressive and proactive as the organizations they serve by:
Paying close attention to both verbal and non-verbal communication. They must be willing to hear honest feedback and be in tune with the not-so-subtle, non-verbal communication of expressions, distance, and body language.
Sharing their knowledge and empowering employees to tackle challenges and resolve their own conflicts.
Having group training sessions and one-on-one coaching sessions. These are highly effective leadership competencies for developing a more intelligent team, increasing team unity, and improving individual self-esteem.
Demanding responsibility and accountability. Confidence in employees breeds better productivity, and regular performance reviews always improve communication.
Talented employees perform for their companies when managers genuinely invest the time in their development. And with competition higher than ever, productivity and accountability are critical in every organization.
By John Hester