what is a leader
July 2, 2016

What is a leader & how do I become one?

By Annette Franz

As we look forward to a summer of sport, our focus also shifts to the topic of leadership and what is a leader?

With the World Cup & Wimbledon to watch, I’m sure there will be plenty of examples of determination. Athletes will demonstrate courage, winning against the odds & some will truly lead their teams.

But what makes someone a true leader, not just in the world of sport but also in business? What is a leader? Often we can learn a great deal from talking to those who have walked that path already.

So, I’m delighted to welcome back Annette Franz, to kick us off on our leadership theme. Here, she shares her leadership tips, coming from participating in a Mashable #BizChats event. Over to Annette to share her experience…

What are some of the key questions that you might have about becoming a leader – or just about leadership, in general?

Two weeks ago, I was honoured to be featured alongside other leadership experts on Mashable’s #BizChats Twitter chat about  leadership and on how to become a strong leader. The conversation was inspiring and fast-moving, as these chats often go.

The questions asked during the chat included… with a few of my thoughts woven in:

Q1. What are some defining traits of a leader?

A leader doesn’t tell her team what to do; instead, she inspires them to use what’s already inside to do great things. She supports and uplifts her team. She’s honest, transparent, has a great attitude, communicates well, is always learning, empowers others, and does the right thing. One thing to remember is that a leader doesn’t necessarily have a team but must have followers.

Q2. What are some common mistakes that new leaders make?

Some common mistakes I’ve seen include:
Believing they must have the answer or all the answers
Talking more, listening less
Thinking you have to do everything; it’s ok to delegate
Not working well with others
Trying to do things themselves, on their own, in isolation

Q3. How can a leader take on more ownership without becoming overwhelmed?

They can delegate and then empower their followers. They’ll still be accountable, but it’s OK to pass on responsibility to the team. Also, leaders don’t have to take on more ownership; they ought to inspire and guide and teach – and give up some ownership.

Q4. What are some useful tips for leaders managing a team for the first time?

A few of the tips I offered up include:
You don’t have to have all the answers
You don’t have to be the sage on the stage; be the guide by your team’s side
Give credit where credit is due; don’t take credit for your team’s work
But when your team fails, you’re the first to fall on the sword
Recognise your employees for a job well done
Take care of your team, really care about them
Think about a leader in your past: To be like them or to not be like them? That is the question.

Q5. What steps should a leader take when dealing with office politics and/or conflicts?

Recognise that there is conflict; discuss what it is and what it means for the team. Understand the opposing positions, and figure out how you’ll work together. Don’t let things get personal, and don’t take things personally. Communicate early and often. And in the end, don’t forget patience and respect.

Q6. How does emotional intelligence play into effective leadership?

When you understand how your emotions affect others, when you have this emotional awareness, you can better control your reactions. It then keeps you from attacking others, allows you to feel empathy, and allows you to resolve conflict more effectively and diplomatically.

Q7. What are some myths about leadership?

A couple of common myths (there are so many more) include:
You have to have a team to be a leader
Managers and leaders are one and the same
Leaders have all the answers
Leaders can’t ask for help

Q8. What final tips do you have into evolving into a leader?

A few of my tips included:
Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, and when you do, be prepared for what you hear
Inspire, don’t tell or yell
You are in charge of your destiny and the type of leader you will become
Think of past leaders and pull lessons from the good ones and swear off traits from the bad ones!

To see the full wrap-up of the chat, check out Mashable’s write-up on it or the Storyify version.

What will you do?

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” John F. Kennedy

Thanks Annette, for those thoughts, on what is a leader, & how to improve in your leadership

Are there any you recognise as important in your role? Any that you’ve learnt the hard way?

Wherever you are on your leadership development journey, I wish you well with making further progress this month.