One size does not fit all when it comes to defining leaders. Some effective leaders are charismatic and passionate in their role, while others lead from within their team rather than directing from above.
Leaders must understand the people they have to work with, says Ed Lee, senior vice president, sales, at Franklin Templeton Investments Corp. in Toronto. "In the fast-paced, ever changing financial services industry," Lee says, "leaders need to look beyond the noise and be the catalyst for their team, regardless of challenges in the way."
Leaders have many deep-rooted character traits and qualities, which they leverage to lead their team to success, Lee says. "They occasionally need to take stock through introspection to ensure they are on the right course."
Here are six questions to help you determine whether you are an effective leader:
1. Are you an active member of your team?
A good leader is an active team member who shares their expertise and helps other members deal with challenges in their efforts to achieve their goals.
The more you help your team members, the better their chances of meeting their objectives, which, ultimately, are part of your overall goals.
2. Do you encourage team participation?
You should provide each team member with the opportunity to be successful, Lee says. Some team members will need help occasionally, he says: "No one fires on all cylinders all the time."
Part of the nature of teamwork is that some members may not always be at the top of their game. In such instances, you must support those members and enable others to pick up the slack.
3. Are you willing to share leadership?
A good leader encourages team members to take leadership roles on certain projects. For example, if you believe a team member can comfortably handle certain client issues or take charge of meetings "let them run with it" without your involvement, Lee advises.
4. Are you a good communicator?
A key element of leadership is the ability to express your vision to your team.
"Be direct and forthright with your team members," Lee says. "People prefer a straightforward approach to communication."
Whether it is good news or bad news, everyone should have access to the same information at the same time.
And you must have a positive attitude: "The quickest way to bring a team down is for the leader to have a negative outlook."
5. Do you acknowledge success?
Effective leaders celebrate when desired outcomes are achieved, Lee says.
You must be fair in providing accolades when they are earned, and discipline when it is required. And you should avoid showing favouritism toward any team members.
While recognition can come in many forms, such as monetary bonuses, Lee says, you must consider the frequency of recognition so as to not reduce its impact.
6. Do you seek and provide feedback?
Feedback — both formal and informal — is imperative, says Lee. Solicit team members' opinions, he says. "They are more likely to respect someone who considers their point of view."
At the same time, you must provide honest feedback to each team member as well as the team as a whole.
See also: How to lead and effective team
See also: Improve your leadership skills