Five Principles In Becoming An Effective Leader

leadership Jan 30, 2024

In today's changing society, leadership requires adaptability and the willingness to grow professionally to remain relevant and effective. By effective, I mean directing, motivating, and enabling others to accomplish the desired mission or goals of the organization. The following five principles in becoming an effective leader are essential for those who want to improve their influence and impact as leaders within today's fast-paced business environment

1. Develop professional competence 

Effective leadership requires life-long learning. For leaders to remain effective in an ever-changing world, pursuing self-improvement has to be a way of life. This self-improvement process means the leader has to invest in their personal and professional growth. The investment includes reading widely, Keeping current and up-to-date, and engaging in self-care, which means taking care of one's mental, emotional, and physical states on an ongoing basis.

2. Define and clarify the mission.

A mission statement defines what an organization is and why it exists. The leader should be clear on the organization's "why" and communicate it to their team. So, What's your mission or the specific task(s) that you would like your team or group to accomplish? Once you have decided on the mission, your next step is to make it tangible through goal setting, with the appropriate strategies identified for achieving them. Additionally, create clarity by asking, "Where do I want to go (Goal), and how do I plan to get there (Strategy)?"

3. Develop and empower others

A visionary leader will always seek to develop others around them. Hence, if you are going to be an effective leader, you have to empower others and be mindful that in doing so, they will make mistakes. Give them responsibility or tasks to perform without micromanaging. However, be clear on their job description and teach them by example how to deal with failure and handle challenges when they arise. In addition, develop a mentoring culture - a developmental partnership through which one person shares knowledge, skills, information, and perspective to foster someone else's personal and professional growth.

4. Value your subordinates

As a leader, you must value your direct reports. In some leadership circles, leaders say that their customers come first. An effective leader's team comes first because they know if their team feels satisfied and fulfilled, their customers will also be happy. Hence, treat subordinates fairly. Respond to their concerns and represent their interest. Be interested in their well-being, keep your word and promises, and never lie to those you lead. If you do, it will diminish your integrity and sabotage your ability to lead effectively.

5. Uphold professional norms.

Maintaining order and discipline is critical to upholding professional standards in any organization. This reality is because upholding company norms helps to heighten morale (esprit de corps) - the capacity of people to maintain belief in an institution or a goal or even in oneself and others. Why is morality so important? It is essential because when morale is low, turnover is usually high. Also, a high turnover creates low performance and negatively impacts a company's bottom line.

A final thought

In "The Art of War," one of the top leadership books of all time, its author Sun Tzu once said, "The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do, many calculations lead to victory and few calculations to defeat; how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose" (The Art Of War by Sun Tzu, Edited by James Clavel, p.11). 

Therefore, to be an effective leader, you must be intentional about the mission, your personal growth, and that of your team members. You will certainly be like the general who wins because he made many calculations in his temple before engaging in battle.