In April 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the tech industry is at 1.9% unemployment, down from 3% a few years ago. This means there are plenty of openingsfor new workers. This also means you can move up and become a leader in your industry.
You get to decide how to advance in your career. Many tech professionals desire to move into management, and go from pushing pixels to leading a team. But how can you gain the skills to transition from tech worker into an effective manager? As a manager, you will rely on others to do their best work. You’ll consider how your team functions, how they interact with each other, and how to bring them together. To do this effectively, you should invest in leadership skills.
According to Deloitte, 71% of millennials surveyed said they would switch jobs because of a lack of opportunity to develop leadership skills. Here’s a tip: Don’t rely on a company to invest in your skills. Take the initiative to learn on your own or watch a course on how to transition into management from Lynda.com. Whether you are an aspiring or a current manager, you can set yourself apart by developing leadership qualities.
Take a look at successful leaders in top companies. Many of them share the same qualities, including vision, communication, decision making, compassion, and integrity. If you can build these traits, you can truly inspire others to do their best; and that is what makes a great leader.Read below as I go into further detail on how to become an effective leader.
“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
― Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric
The first step to being a strong leader is to have a clear vision. Every decision, action, and communication you make needs to fit within that vision. Take the time to clarify your goals and objectives, as well as the path it takes to get there, as you need to know what direction you want the company to head in.
Spend uninterrupted time every day to think and dream. Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group, and Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, use this method daily to clear their head and look internally to solidify their vision. Without this time, they feel they could get bogged down by daily minutiae. Make sure your ideas align with your business values, objectives, and goals. Jeff Weiner defined a core value proposition before making strategic decisions at LinkedIn. The mission statement ”to connect talent and opportunity at massive scale” contributes toward the company’s ongoing success.
As a leader, you should focus on the future, while having a clear grasp of what’s happening today. Your vision will evolve as technology improves. Be flexible, agile, and open to adapt.
“If you share your dream with like-minded people who share your passion, you could take your dream places you never imagined going.”
— Richard Branson, Former CEO of Virgin Airlines
Visions must be communicated properly. Communication skills are another extremely important quality for successful leaders. You must be able to take your vision, ideas, and strategies and explain them clearly to employees. If everyone is on the same page and working on the same goals, you will achieve greatness.
One job of leaders is to provide feedback to your employees. Feedback should motivate, instruct, and redirect. Be honest with people who are falling behind to make plans to help them overcome the gap. In addition to communicating with employees who are not adequately meeting their goals, you should give accolades to employees when you see them going above and beyond. Strong leaders step back and let other people shine, while supporting those who need help.
In all of your communication, pay attention to how you are being perceived. Make sure that you are communicating your vision clearly, and if you need to, course correct. If you see employees working toward the same goals and objectives, that is a clear sign that your communication style is working.
Richard Branson, the innovative CEO of Virgin Airlines, believes that faster communication contributes to efficient and productive employees. That’s why CloudApp has built a productivity tool that brings you a screen recorder, annotated screenshot tool, GIF creator, and your webcam videos to the cloud in an easy-to-use, enterprise-grade app so you can quickly create and share visual content.
“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”
― Tony Robbins, Leadership Expert
Leaders have to respond to changes in a complex, ever-changing business environment. True leaders are willing to take risks by making quick, decisive choices.
There is no assurance of success when you make a decision for your company. If something goes wrong, leaders will be on the hook to adapt and find creative solutions. But whatever decisions you make, be assertive and clear in how you communicate those decisions, as they reflect your confidence and sense of vision. People will follow those with clear convictions.
As a leader, many people will need you to be a problem solver. The most successful leaders are approachable and charismatic who know when to talk, and when to listen. If there are problems, simply sitting down with employees and asking them about their jobs can give you amazing insights and allow you to be creative in your problem solving.
“I can tell you with absolute conviction that managing compassionately is not just a better way to build a team, it’s a better way to build a company.”
— Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO
Leaders are responsible for many people’s needs. One leadership quality that isn’t always discussed is the ability to lead with your head and your heart: compassion. Compassion is putting yourself in others’ shoes, and then taking action to meet others’ needs.
To create a workplace where employees are motivated, inspired, and excited to be there, compassionate leadership is the way to go. This leads to an innovative and successful environment where everyone works together to create something meaningful.
92% of employees said that would be more likely to stay with their job, if their bosses would show more empathy.
Businesssolver, Empathy e-book
Compassionate leadership means getting to know the people you work with and what their strengths, weaknesses, and dreams are. It means learning your employees’ needs and investing in people. Leaders must be excellent listeners through this process. Take the time to truly listen to people, so you understand all facets of your employees.
Knowing your employees can make it easier to make decisions that positively affect your business. You can set up mentorship and coaching for those who need it, and delegate responsibilities to employees who are ready for it.
Being compassionate also means starting with a positive mindset, where you reframe difficult questions in a positive way. Start from a place where each employee strives to make the company successful. Positivity and optimism are key traits that leaders have that leads to success, and this often comes from having compassion for the people around you.
People want to work for those who are ethical and respect others. Be honest, treat people well, and don’t be afraid to share your values. Stand up for what you believe in. Lead with integrity and your team will follow.
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”
Trust means being consistent over time and if you stick to your vision and make your decisions and plan strategic actions based on that, you will be consistent. That is a great way to build trust, as you have been clear about your beliefs and values, and employees trust you to stay within that.
Integrity also means creating a corporate culture of honesty. Your leadership is what sets the tone for the culture of your company. If you are optimistic and passionate, others will be too. If you do the right thing, even when it’s hard, people will see that and follow it. Each decision and communication should reflect the culture that you have developed.
You should also trust in yourself. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs, including Steve Jobs and Oprah, among others, have spoken about listening to “their guts.” They trust in their experiences and vision, and that has helped them to make the decisions and actions that kept them on the right path. Trusting yourself means you can take quick decisive actions, and lead your company forward to success.
Lastly, you must trust in your employees. If you have done hiring and onboarding process correctly, then you will have chosen people who fit in your company culture. You must give them the autonomy to accomplish things on their own but be there to guide them should they make a mistake. And don’t forget to praise where due, and coach where needed.
All of these qualities build upon each other, and are what makes a strong, successful manager. If you look more into the lives and thoughts of important leaders, you will see they all carry these traits, and credit these traits with their success.
But remember, you are not alone. Surround yourself with the smart people and learn from them. Build your team carefully and nurture their passions. Being a great manager means you no longer think of yourself – you think of the team.