Through the years I’ve been asked quite a few times about the methods through which I establish my credibility as a leader especially since more often than not I’m privileged to work with individuals whom I consider smarter than myself and even geniuses. To this my reply always begins with “EGO”. I personally think that the days of the absolute authoritarian are well behind us and such individuals definitely don’t have a place in the modern tech corporation.
The first skill and the most important in your quest of establishing credibility as a leader should always be active listening. This was probably one of the hardest to perfect since it takes much practice and a complete presence in that moment. To me, active listening is being able to look into the eyes of the individual that is speaking and making sure that they understand through your posture, your facial mimics and your words that you are completely focused on the conversation. I make a point of asking questions if at all I am not sure about a particular point and also to give myself time to process the information that I’ve just received.
I feel that we can all continue to learn. Great leaders are not infallible, they’re regular human beings with strengths and weaknesses however most great leaders have accepted the never-ending quest to better oneself. Mentioning in conversations your failures as well as your successes works miracles in bring the team closer to you; they learn from your experiences and you become relatable on a personal level. It further demonstrates your ability as a leader to understand the shortcomings or errors and it greatly helps to dissipate fear while at the same time encouraging an open communication environment.
Being able to apply the first two skills in every situation brings me to my third fundamental skill, which is often hard to find in the tech industry, consistency. Being consistent in most actions does not equate to being robotic or boring. It should be interpreted as being logical and rational. To better demonstrate the skill, here’s an example. Let’s assume that the company has just lost a big account because of a late delivery. It is very logical for the leader to be frustrated by this outcome and it is very possible that the team is just as frustrated. I find this is a great opportunity for a meaningful discussion during which I start by quickly expressing the emotional part (frustration, hurt, disappointment, etc.) and then move on to the rational and logical steps of preventing reoccurrence. By acting in this matter every time there is a setback makes the team more cohesive and cements the leaders credibility.
It may seem simple to develop these skills, with which many are born however, to some of us it’s a daily quest. Share your insight and experiences – I would be interested to hear how you address this in your business.