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7 Tasks Every Leader Must Master

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Leading and managing people is a learned skill. If you’re looking to become a better leader and build a high-performing organization, master these seven tasks below:

1. Assess and monitor team climate

Climate concerns the shared beliefs and perceptions of groups regarding the attitudes that characterize the group. Within an organization, climate is a bottom-up concept and the responsibility of front-line leaders. The climate can change quickly, depending on the actions of frontline leaders.

The climate is different from the culture. The culture of an organization is defined by the shared assumptions, values ​​and beliefs that govern how people behave in the organization. Culture is a top-down concept and the responsibility of senior leaders. An organization’s culture can only evolve slowly over time.

Morale is critical in both climate and culture. Team morale determines their confidence, will and discipline to succeed, especially in the face of challenges and adversity.

If front-line leaders aren’t doing their job, it’s possible to have a bad team climate in a great organizational culture. Of course, the opposite can also be true. It is certainly possible to have a positive team climate in a not-so-good culture.

Related: Benefits of a Positive Work Environment

2. Win and build trust

When leaders gain the trust of their people, it helps to create a favorable climate. People are naturally skeptical of their leaders. It takes time for leaders to gain trust.

When people trust their leaders, they are more willing to accept the influence of those leaders. Leaders who extend trust are more likely to be trustworthy.

Leaders gain trust when they are willing to be authentic and vulnerable. Authenticity is about being transparent and not pretending to be someone you’re not. Authenticity means showing up as yourself and being willing to connect with others as you are. Authentic leaders appreciate the diversity of ideas and experiences of their people, and they can have an open and honest dialogue with them. Vulnerability is susceptibility to new experiences, thoughts, changes, and uncertainties. Leaders must accept risk by venting their imperfections, admitting their faults, and discussing the unknowns with their team.

Being authentic makes a person vulnerable. Being vulnerable is a strength that requires courage.

3. Treat people with respect and ensure a respectful workplace

Respect is the admiration between people for their ideas and what they think is important. People who feel respected at work are more engaged and productive. Respect is in the eye of the beholder.

Leaders treat people with respect by encouraging them to “open up” and valuing their opinions. Leaders who effectively use active listening in their communication value respect as an essential part of collaboration. Active listening is listening carefully to someone without preemptively judging and without asking intelligent questions to gain the best possible understanding.

Leaders treat people with respect by embracing diversity and being inclusive. Diversity is about recognizing and respecting individual differences and similarities as well as the unique contribution each employee can make. Being inclusive ensures that people have equal opportunities for involvement and empowerment. Inclusiveness highlights unique perspectives and ideas to bring into the workplace to build the culture of the organization.

Treating people with respect means treating them fairly and consistently. Leaders show respect by recognizing people for their hard work.

Related: 5 Ways to Be a Leader Your Employees Will Respect

4. Uphold accountability and fairness

A workplace without accountability is unruly and chaotic. When applying accountability, leaders must be firm, fair, and consistent.

Leaders must be clear about their acceptable standards of conduct, performance and learning in the workplace. Leaders owe it to those who do things right to hold non-performers accountable. Of course, leaders must also hold themselves accountable to established standards. Leaders model accountability by showing their people “what the law looks like”.

Holding people accountable doesn’t always mean punishment. In most cases, enforcing accountability means correcting behaviors. This means making sure people learn from their mistakes and live up to established standards.

Encourage people to have fun at work

We spend more time at work than with our families. Jobs shouldn’t be miserable and fun doesn’t always have to be a party.

Having fun helps people relax and take a mental break from their challenges. People often use humor as a personal coping mechanism against stress, and laughter can help relieve anxiety and fear. Having fun opens dialogue and strengthens cohesion within the team.

Having a sense of humor in the face of common challenges allows you to bond with others facing the same challenges. Humor, especially from leaders, is a powerful tool.

Related: 5 Strategies to Create a Fun and Productive Work Culture

6. Show great character

A leader’s character will make or destroy his reputation. People won’t give 100% of their efforts to leaders who lack character. A leader’s character is built by gaining the trust and respect of his team. When leaders demonstrate the following traits to their teams, it makes people more resilient:

  • Moral Courage: Acting for moral reasons, despite the risk

  • Honesty: Show authentic principles, intentions and actions

  • Humility: Having a modest opinion or assessment of one’s own importance

  • Empathy: The vicarious experience of another’s feelings, thoughts, or attitudes

Demonstrating moral courage and honesty inspires trust. Showing humility and empathy shows respect.

7. Manage and share expectations

Expectations are assumptions, beliefs, and ideas for actions and outcomes. Managing expectations mentally prepares people for the obstacles and challenges of coping with stress. Plans rarely go as planned, so leaders need to understand the associated risks and be with the team in the face of challenges.

Leaders should ask themselves and their teams the following types of questions:

  • What is the worst case scenario we can expect?

  • How do we prepare and adapt to this?

  • What else could go wrong?

  • What is our plan B?

Managing expectations of what the team may face keeps them informed, focused on their goal, and creates a more cohesive and resilient organization.