A leader’s specific roles are determined through the four basic leadership responsibilities of directing, coaching, supporting and delegating. Specific responsibilities will fall into one of these four categories. In leadership practice, one must master skills in all areas in order to effectively lead others under their direction.
Effective leadership is not happenstance; it follows specific rules revolving around these four basic areas of responsibility. Leadership skills can be learned and developed, even if an individual does not have a natural tendency toward leadership.
More importantly, once learned and applied, these rules make a leader more effective and productive as he or she learns to work, direct and guide others toward the mutual accomplishment of goals and objectives.
Developing strengths in each of the four leadership roles allows a leader to read specific situations accurately and know what communication style is best applied.
Directing refers to how to keep work tasks and activities on the right track. A leader’s direction is what makes or breaks problem solving as well as determines the effectiveness of an approach to an assignment or task, the maintaining of momentum until its completion, and whether it is done by deadline.
There are several ways to generate good direction techniques. These include:
Explain things completely and include the ‘why’s’
Leaders learn early on that the best way to gain support and trust from their employees is to explain all things in their entirety. Once people understand why something is important or necessary, they generally rally to the call of that which needs to be done or addressed.
Leaders understand the power of their presence at all times. Nothing deflates the workforce’s motivation and desire to achieve more than to be left on their own with no visible means of support or direction.
Objectively consider opposing points of view
Leaders consider situations, problems and solutions from various viewpoints, as the input from as many individuals as possible expands their capabilities to effectively frame their direction.
Coaching refers to when a leader knows where he or she wants to go and remains in control of the task but needs to lead others in developing a mutual support network.
Coaching instills the desire to achieve and builds a dialogue bridge between the leader and those under his or her charge. This motivates employees and positively changes attitudes toward the work assignment.
To do this effectively a leader must make an effort to:
Incorporate the word ‘we’ into all conversations
Effective leaders eliminate the word “I” because it denotes a singular rather than cooperative effort. The very meaning of the term “coaching” implies a team effort.
Listen for objections and areas of misunderstanding
Effective leaders who coach well develop the skill of eliminating objections by developing an effective dialogue and creating clear and concise responses.
Offer explanations addressing the ‘why’s, what’s and how’s’ of the problem or task at hand
Good coaching depends upon complete understanding. Motivation and confidence comes from understanding the expectations a leader has of those involved in a given task, assignment or problem solving situation.
Managers cannot be effective leaders unless they actively hone their supporting skills. People look warmly on leaders who actively work to support them emotionally as well as physically.
When leaders actively work to support the people under their charge they:
Acknowledge individual efforts with comments of praise and positive support
Leaders are not afraid to say “thank you,” or “you’re doing a great job,” or whatever it takes to instill confidence in an individual.
Disclose their own feelings openly and honestly
Leaders are not afraid to reveal their “inner self.” Trust and loyalty are built on disclosing inward feelings, concerns and desires.
Readily and honestly opening up builds encouragement and perseverance on both sides.
Never hesitate to ask, ‘What’s wrong?’
Leaders allow themselves to get into the thick of a situation or task, and are quick to share the decision making responsibility, but know when to relinquish control in order to gain extra participation and involvement.
Leaders know and understand their people. They know their strengths and weaknesses as well as what motivates and frustrates them. Effective delegating relies on the ability to select the proper person for the specific task or role.
Leaders develop good delegation skills by:
Briefing the delegate
Leaders leave nothing to chance when they delegate. When delegating, it is vital to explain exactly what expectations the leader has of the delegated individual.
Having confidence in the person they select
Leaders do not select individuals for an assignment according to their job descriptions or the salaries they command, they look for people with the skills, abilities, perseverance and motivation to get the job done and done well.
Not abdicating responsibility, but allowing individuals to decide a best course of action for themselves
Leaders monitor and weigh these individual decisions, but never advance their own leadership position for a particular course of action unless they assess it to be the best one.
Excerpt: Leadership Roles & Responsibilities: Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011)