10 ways to lead

Having good leadership skills are vital if you want to climb the career ladder. We asked you for your top tips on being a good leader, and here are some of the best

1 Lead by example

‘Get your share done and lead by example,’ advises Jeremy Lynton, a Part 3 student from the UK. ‘Then you can tell people to work harder without feeling like a hypocrite.’ No one will want to work hard for you if they see that you’re slacking. Leading by example is vital if you want to be respected. You can’t ask your team to stay late and work on a project if you’re not prepared to do that yourself. Be scrupulous in your work and behaviour, and it’s likely your team will follow in your footsteps.

2 Three is the magic number

Le Thi Hong, a Part 2 student from Vietnam, believes that there are three elements to getting the best out of a team. ‘Effective leaders have to consider the influence of three key factors: the team, the task, and the individual,’ she says. ‘Leaders should motivate and develop each individual within the team in order to encourage them to work well. They should also clearly define tasks to the team as a whole to make it work efficiently.’

3 Use your ears

Being a good listener is another skill which is essential in managing a team. ‘Listen to more than what’s being said,’ says Wale Rabiu, a Part 2 student from Nigeria. ‘Pay attention to what’s not being said and try to spot unspoken expectations. It’s about picking up on what people are thinking, how they are acting, and what they are not necessarily verbalising.’ Try and read between the lines, and really listen when communicating with your team – you may be surprised at what you learn.

4 Scare tactics don’t work

Part 3 student Mohammadali Azaei from the UK says that the ability to motivate is a necessary skill in good leadership. Motivation may decrease over time with any team, and it’s the leader’s job to inspire. ‘Many leaders try to motivate the old-fashioned way through fear, as in a “do what I say or something bad will happen” scenario,’ says Mohammadali. ‘This is not advisable, since it tends to only deliver short-term results and cause less competent work in the long-term, because of the resentment that can result from the fear tactics. Instead, try adding challenges for employees. A fresh challenge always adds excitement and encourages creativity. Challenge your employees with tasks that may be slightly out of their range. This increases motivation.’

5 Keep up

‘Keep abreast of the latest developments in technology and develop strategies to take advantage of these. It’s also important to encourage staff to be up-to-date with the latest technology,’ says ACCA affiliate Halima Abukar from the UK. If staff see that you are aware of what is going on in the business world around you, and especially if you are keeping tabs on any developments which would make their jobs easier, they will be more confident in your leadership skills.

6 Be fair

Karen Webster, a CAT student from the Isle of Man, says: ‘A leader should be fair at all times and not make the mistake of trying too hard to be liked by everyone. It is better to be respected by all, and if you are fair and equitable in dealings with all staff, you will eventually be both admired and respected by all.’ While in a perfect world it would be ideal to enjoy good relationships with all colleagues, as a leader you are there to guide and motivate your team. This means dealing with all your colleagues equally.

7 Make it positive

‘Constructive criticism is useful and necessary in order to learn and improve. But it’s important not to only point out the negative,’ says Emer Guckian, a Part 2 student from the Republic of Ireland. ‘Before listing the things that are wrong, it would help to mention at least one positive point to soften the blow. Ending the conversation with a positive comment before you walk away will also make your colleague feel like there is hope and that you are approachable if they have a problem.’ Even though it’s hard to point out flaws or problems it must be done in order to move forward and correct mistakes. A good leader should never shy away from explaining to staff what has been done incorrectly, but should deal with the problem tactfully and sensitively.

"Being a good listener is essential in managing a team"