Top Tips for Being a Successful Leader in 2020
Lee Biggins, CEO and founder of Resume Library lists his top tips for being a successful leader.
Being a successful leader isn’t easy. It requires you to stay focused on strategic business goals and steer your team accordingly. However, when combined with challenging team dynamics and constantly shifting priorities, successful leadership can feel like an impossible task.
As we approach 2020, being a successful leader won’t get any easier. With an election on the horizon and key economic policies subject to change; it will take strong leadership to keep your business afloat. With this in mind, here are some top tips to improve your leadership skills in the new year.
Communication is Key
When it comes to being a successful leader, nothing is more important than good communication. A business can’t move forward without a vision and set goals; and a team can’t deliver on those ambitions if they aren’t properly communicated. As a leader, you must ensure you can do this quickly and effectively.
The first step is ensuring your employees know how these long-term business goals affect them. Start by clearly laying out how their day-to-day efforts move the business towards these objectives; and why it’s important that they keep these in mind when planning any upcoming projects. This will enable your team to understand the bigger picture and be passionate about the work they’re doing.
However, a successful leader should also be able to communicate instructions clearly and efficiently. When passing on a task, be sure to cover the following:
A detailed explanation for what is required
A clear deadline for when the job needs to be completed
Any supporting documents that may be needed to carry out the task; or directions for finding them
Giving this information when delegating work enables your employees to do the task correctly – on the first try. Ultimately, this will improve productivity as staff can complete projects quickly and efficiently.
Don’t Forget to Delegate
A must-have for any successful leader is the ability to delegate. As a manager, your time will be taken up by forward planning and managing your team. This will mean you are responsible prioritising projects and allocating tasks accordingly.
While it might be tempting to take on the lion’s share of the work; it isn’t a productive way to operate. Rather than doing it all yourself, split a project up task by task. A successful leader will take the time to identify which tasks would be better suited to certain team members; considering any skills, interests and experience. This will free up time and enable you to keep tabs on the progress of the project; while supporting your team in developing their skills.
However, be careful not to micromanage. If you find yourself trying to excessively control or monitor your team, it is important you try to take a step back. Micromanaging can be detrimental to morale and can seriously reduce productivity. Be sure to check in on the progress of a task and offer assistance or support where needed; without being overly controlling or needlessly negative.
Trust is important in any relationship – including between a manager and their team. The first step to building trust is being transparent with your employees. Be honest about your mistakes; upfront about your expectations; and give clear feedback, both when giving praise and offering constructive criticism. This will allow employees to see things from your perspective and understand your decisions.
In addition, a successful leader will insist that team members respect each other and will encourage supportive behavior. Lead by example and make time to listen to their ideas, recognize their opinions and be respectful of their time. This will encourage a positive working environment and help employees to feel comfortable under your leadership.
Transparency and respect will result in a strong level of trust in any team. It means employees can see that you’re a fair boss, open to new ideas and that you understand everyone makes mistakes. This improves productivity and stimulates creativity, collaboration and innovation – the hallmarks of successful leadership.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Finally, it’s important to remember that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to leadership and management; every individual will have different needs. Some will respond to a more involved management style, while others might prefer a hands-off approach.
Either way, being a successful leader means you’ll be able to adjust accordingly and provide a supportive environment for development and learning.
Take the time to listen to your employees and figure out what they need to succeed. Whether it’s a firm hand, or the freedom to manage their own time – listening is key. Managing team members effectively helps to strengthen trust and makes employees feel valued; setting you apart as a successful leader.
Being a Successful Leader in 2020
Being a successful leader takes hard work and commitment but is worth the effort. Creating a team where trust, creativity and respect are paramount is the key to successful leadership and to a successful business.
It will improve your quality of work, create a safe space to be innovative; and give your business the edge over any competitors.
No matter how you look at it, being a successful leader will pay dividends in the long run and set you up for a brilliant year in business.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.