Leadership Skills, Optometry Practice Leadership, Optical Practice Leadership Training, Optometry Consulting, MIRRO Inc.
How would you describe your leadership abilities? More importantly, how would your team describe your leadership abilities? Leadership is a concept that is easily understood but often becomes more complex during application. Developing leadership skills (yes, I said developing - nobody is born a leader) takes time, effort, commitment, and evaluation. Developing into a leader doesn't happen overnight and in some cases may never happen, but we are here to help you get a head start on developing those skills with eight actionable steps to become an effective leader.
Step #1: Be the Example. They say that the greatest form of flattery is impersonation. If you expect your staff to operate a certain way, YOU need to be the first in line to show them how it’s done. A true leader must be the standard bearer for the way business in conducted. By setting the example yourself, you effectively hold all other parties accountable to your level of commitment and operation.
Step #2: Export your Passion. A leader without passion can't lead! Plain and simple. If you can't generate the excitement needed to rally your team, then your team will fail and consequently, you will fail. The infusion of passion is contagious. Passion can inspire people to do things outside of their comfort zone and skill level. It can be used as a tool to shape behaviors, make changes, and overcome obstacles. Passion breeds passion and before you know it, you will be surround with like-minded people.
Step #3: Communicate at all times. By now, everyone understands great leaders have to be
great communicators. But communication is more than just goals and objectives (which are extremely critical to success). There needs to be a human element to great communication. People need to be reminded of how they "fit" into the process and how their work matters to the practice. Recognizing successes, milestones, and achievements need to be as much a part of the communication process as goals, objectives, and performance discussions. But be precise! Never leave an opportunity for interpretation. Be clear and to the point and everyone will stay on the same page.
Step #4: Entrust and Delegate. You can't do everything yourself, so don't try. Be precise with regards to the task you are handing over. Define what you want clearly, communicate expectations, continuously follow up, and have confidence in your team. If you can't trust your team to handle a few of the tasks that need to be completed, should they be on your team?
Step #5: Keep Organized (Even during times of chaos). One of the biggest pitfalls to leadership is disorganization. How can you lead if you don't know what’s going on or where you’re going? Short answer: you can't! Your team will reflect your habits. Staying organized will help you keep on top of critical tasks, provide the ability to track progresses/regressions, and keep sane.
Step #6: Listen and Learn. There is an old saying "there's a reason you have two ears and one mouth...so you can do twice as much listening as talking." If you are always directing, instructing, or bloviating you are obviously not listening. Listening is a critical function of any leader. To keep people inspired they need to know you are listening to their thoughts and suggestions. By simply asking a few questions, you can keep your team engaged and you can be alerted to any issues before they become series problems.
Step #7: Understand Every Element of the Team. Great leaders have the ability to place people in positions to succeed. This can only be achieved if you understand all of the parts within a team. Great leaders know how their team dynamic is constructed. They understand each person’s role, their skill level, personality, and competencies. They are able to assess where each member fits into the process and how their skills can be elevated and utilized to complete a task.
Step #8: Great Leaders can Follow. A strong leader has the ability to recognize when a team member has the ability to carry the leadership torch for a specific task and is capable of taking a step back and allowing that person to lead. To be a good leader you have to know what is like to follow, otherwise you are known as a dictator. By allowing yourself to take a step back once in a while you are provided with insight into how others within your team view you. When you take a step back you are also helping develop your team. Providing others the opportunity to lead demonstrates your confidence in their skill level and will help them progress into more of a leader within your team. When your team has enough leaders within it, your practice is ready to expand and it can all be done with "home grown talent!"
Leadership development, either for you or your team, is a continuous process and the moment you think you've figured out how to be a great leader the tables will change. So you need to keep developing, learning, and trying new ways to lead your team.
Mike Rolih is the President of MIRRO, Inc. a consulting firm focused on providing eyecare professionals with training, marketing, and human resource solutions. For more information, you can visit MIRRO