Leadership is identified as one of Matter’s top soft skills that is linked to performance and career success. Contrary to popular belief, soft skills like leadership can also be learned and developed just like any hard skills. Matter helps professionals tease out blindspots and areas for growth in skills like leadership through regular peer-to-peer feedback.

What Is Leadership

Definition of Leadership: Leads, motivates, and inspires your team and/or company.

Everyone experiences leadership differently. John C. Maxwell sums up this up very well: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Effective leadership boosts business productivity because it motivates and empowers individuals on a team to take ownership and feel confident in their work. Great leaders embrace a growth mindset, which encourages transparency, honesty, and feedback. Leaders model the way by normalizing failures as opportunities to grow.

Great Leaders You May Know

Susan Wojcicki: As the CEO of Youtube, Wojcicki understood the critical role that feedback and motivation played in leading the world’s largest video sharing platform. In an interview, she credited her ability to listen and receive feedback as her strongest assets of becoming a good leader, adding that “As you get more senior, your job is to hear what’s not working so you can make it better.” Under her leadership, YouTube grew to over 1.5 billion users.

Joel Gascoigne: The CEO and cofounder of Buffer wanted to build a different kind of company that prioritizes transparency and the happiness of his team. Gascoigne encourages other companies to be transparent in how they operate and compensate their employees. To model the way, he openly shares Buffer’s revenue, salaries, fundraising, and company roadmap to the public.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The U.S. Supreme Court Justice is known for her unwavering commitment to gender equality and women’s rights. Ginsburg understands that leaders must decisive and thoughtful, but also collaborative. Despite being on the polar opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, Ginsburg was a close friend of the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

Why Leadership Is Important

  • Better Decision Making: Great leaders are able to identify the signal from the noise. They consider context, differing perspectives, and their environment to make informed decisions. When they make the wrong decisions, they admit and learn from them.
  • Innovation: Companies innovate more when their leaders model the way by embracing an openness to receiving and giving constructive feedback. They are resilient and know how to spread optimism in the face of uncertainty.
  • Team Retention: People are happier at their job when they feel motivated, inspired, and heard. Unsurprisingly, 75% of people leave their job because of their manager. Good leaders know how to recognize others and boost morale.

What Leadership Isn’t About

  • Power: It’s not about the title or the corner office. Great leaders lead through influence and respect from their peers.
  • Control: Great leaders lead from behind and enable others to act. They are collaborative and open to feedback.
  • Doing Everything Your Way: Good managers understand that success is about people. Their ability to delegate and share responsibilities is vital to the productivity and performance of their team and business.

Abilities That Lead To The Mastery of Leadership

Acting Confidently: Leaders who are confident are viewed by their peers as more effective and more likely to foster creative thinking. Demonstrate confidence on the outside, even when you don’t feel it on the inside. We are all afraid on occasion, that is part of being human.

Collaborating with others: Countless studies have demonstrated that when companies embrace their collaborative instincts, they reap dividends in innovation, performance, and employee retention. Collaboration requires a leader who asks people their opinions and spends time on team formation.

Being decisive: Even indecision is a decision. Leaders need to make tough decisions in a timely manner. Making tough decisions won’t make you popular immediately, but in the long run, your team will appreciate the lack of confusion that comes from a leader who doesn’t keep people in limbo.

Delegating tasks: One of the most difficult transitions for leaders to make is the shift from doing to leading. Delegation helps to boost team morale, increase productivity, and promotes enthusiasm, innovation, and cooperation, all of which are vital to a company’s bottom line.

Inspiring others: Inspired employees are more than twice as productive as employees who are simply satisfied. The ability to inspire is what employees want most in their leaders, and what separates the best leaders from everyone else.

Keeping your promises: What’s your Say:Do ratio? The ”Say:Do Ratio” is the modern, measurable version of “keep your promises.” It is the ratio of the number of things said by a person to the number of things that they have actually done. Ideally, your ratio is 1:1. Doing what you say you’ll do fosters integrity and trust, which are crucial for high performing teams.

Recognizing others’ accomplishments: A leader makes other people feel important and appreciated. Use powerful, positive language that is specific to the accomplishments of the person with whom you’re interacting. Sincere recognition makes people feel important and encourages people to continue doing more great work in the future.

Setting well-defined goals: Well-defined goals help people understand what is expected. Measurable goals provide milestones to track progress as well as to motivate employees towards goal success. There are several goal setting frameworks like OKR (Objectives and Key Results) and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely).

Showing honesty and integrity: Leaders can only inspire and motivate followers if they have gained their trust and respect. To do this, they have to show honesty and integrity. Someone who never veers from inner values, no matter what outside pressures, stresses, or temptations are on offer is a leader to be respected and trusted.

Spreading optimism: Great leaders know things will get better because they will make them better. Studies have shown that people who are optimistic are more likely to work hard to achieve their goals (and encourage others to do the same).

Explore Roles That Benefit From Leadership

Who can benefit from practicing leadership? Matter is helping professionals at all levels get actionable feedback to improve their leadership.

  • CEOs who are looking to become better leaders and cultivate company culture
  • Designers who want to grow their professional and soft skills
  • Freelancers who work without a traditional team and want feedback
  • Project Managers looking to improve their cross-functional collaboration skills
  • Software Engineers who aspire to become a tech lead or manager

Explore Complementary Skills to Leadership

Leadership shouldn’t be practiced in a vacuum. Improve your leadership by exploring and developing these complementary skills.

  • Candor: Communicates in a truthful and in a straightforward manner
  • Communication: Clearly conveys information to others (written or verbal)
  • Inclusiveness: Creates an environment that values individual and group differences
  • Resilience: Recovers quickly from difficulties or setbacks
  • Responsiveness: Provides follow-up to peers’ requests for information or assistance without delay

Learn. Improve. Grow.

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