A few months back, I asked a group of leaders for a show of hands on who had experienced either oversupervision or undersupervision. Almost every hand went up. But then I asked how many had themselves oversupervised or undersupervised their direct reports. Only one or two hands shyly peeked out from the crowd.
So what’s going on? Well, leaders can sometimes be unaware of what they should and should not be doing. And this lack of awareness separates good leaders from great leaders. Great leaders know that leading is a never-ending journey that can be filled with treacherous obstacles.
So what do you need to know to become a great leader?
1. People are unpredictable
Your direct report may not necessarily react the same way each and every time to you. And you yourself may also change from day to day. So always using the same style of leadership may not always yield the best results. Instead, great leaders tailor their approach to each task, situation, and individual to effectively meet the direct report’s needs. So find out how your direct report is doing and what’s going on in his/her life, and then use that knowledge to better inform how you lead him/her.
2. It takes skill
It’s easy to fall into a routine. That’s why we have habits. But as people are unpredictable, you must also be flexible in your style of leadership to be able to match in each unique situation. The best way to do this is to have a learning-oriented mindset, by being on the lookout for new approaches, practicing other styles of leadership to be more flexible, and keeping up-to-date on what’s going on with your direct reports, your organization, and beyond. A great leader will always say, “I have so much left to learn in being a leader!”
3. It takes time
Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t able to immediately improve your effectiveness as a leader. Remember, it’s a life-long journey. As with anything, leadership takes time and patience to perfect. And this means you should constantly be trying to improve and grow as an individual. There’s no finish line, but instead a continuous evolution of who you are as a leader, being able to serve your direct reports more and more effectively with each passing day.
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