Some people are natural-born leaders. Others embrace the journey that comes with the responsibility of leading a team. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you are on, you must first ask yourself these 5 questions to prepare for your leadership role.
1. How can I create an open innovation environment?
Two words: innovation mindset. Innovation mindset is the mentality of an individual’s ability and willingness to innovate. As a leader, adopting this mindset will not only help your team flourish but will foster a creative environment where everyone feels valued and appreciated. According to Accenture, there are six elements of an innovation mindset:
- Purpose: Alignment around and support for the purpose of the organization.
- Autonomy: Being shown a clear mandate for change—and being trusted to follow through.
- Resources: Having the tools, time and incentives necessary to innovate.
- Inspiration: Tapping into inspiration from beyond the organization.
- Collaboration: Working with other departments or in fluid, cross-function teams.
- Experimentation: Experimenting with new ideas quickly without fear of failure.
Treat each element as a stepping stone as you embark on your leadership journey.
2. How can I model the behavior I’m looking for in my team?
Leadership is not just about directing people logistically. You need to be a role model, advisor, and friend to your team. As a leader, emotional intelligence is critical for understanding your team’s feelings, being able to properly communicate, and inspire those around you. Emotional intelligence is a key trait in successful leaders. It’s the ability to observe your feelings and those of others in order to use that information to guide your thinking and behavior.
3. How do I inspire my team to look to the future?
It would be difficult for you to motivate your team without feeling motivated yourself. Start with you. If you’re able to find a way to be inspired, use those skills toward building a strong foundation with your team. While it’s important to focus on the present tasks-at-hand, facilitated conversations with your team will help propel the company forward. Have quarterly or annual check-ins to gauge how your team forecasts the future. Treat those check-ins as a casual talk rather than a formal meeting. Establishing a trusting relationship between you and your team members can create a better environment for you to inspire and encourage them.
4. Where are my shortcomings? How can I overcome them?
There are times where we are our own worst critic. Although identifying your shortcomings can make you more self-aware, what comes next is up to you. For example, if you struggle with micromanaging your team, give them some space and let them know you trust their abilities. If you find yourself to be more close-minded, welcome all ideas and take them into consideration before you make any executive decisions. Your weaknesses don’t define you – view them as opportunities to evolve and grow as a leader.
5. How can I clearly communicate our company’s process?
Not everyone has innate, superior communication skills. If you’re not one of those people, don’t fret – being a strong communicator is something you can learn from practice. This helpful article offers tips for leaders who struggle with getting their message across. Making sure your team asks clarifying questions can also eliminate any discrepancies or misunderstandings. It doesn’t matter if you are an aspiring TED talk speaker or prefer to keep things short and sweet, as long as your team is on the same page, you can bet things will run smoothly.
Being a leader is no small task. These questions are meant to guide you through your leadership experience and foster an environment that will help your company succeed.