Tejas Mehta, Senior VP, IIFL, discusses the nuances that make a leader truly stand out.
“Being a leader isn’t about a title, designation or position you hold. In fact, leaders exist in various levels of any organisation,” says Tejas Mehta, Senior VP, IIFL. “And it’s not about supervising people. Some leaders actually behave like managers, while some managers have leadership qualities. Leadership is about influence, trust, accountability, and commitment.” While the two do have a lot in common, Tejas gives us some insight into how to become a good leader at work.
1. Actually listen
“Good leaders understand the value of actively listening and speaking less. Make time to regularly talk to your team. Listen to their experiences, concerns, feedback; give everyone a chance to speak and share their views. This will help you understand the ground reality, find out possible solutions, improvements, etc, and, most importantly, build a strong connect with them. By actively listening you send the signal that you value this interaction and are invested in them.”
2. Drive solutions
“Anyone can point out a problem or criticise. But it’s a leader who will dig down and work towards solving the problem. A leader is a solutions facilitator. It’s important to give your team the freedom to figure things themselves, else they will always be dependent on you and will not create ideas of their own. So provide guidance and push them to think so as to extract the best out of each. But remember that too much pushing can make you seem like a dictator. So be emotionally intelligent as well as authentic and reasonable.”
3. People follow leaders and work for managers
“A leader is someone people trust and follow, a person who has the ability to influence his/her team and work towards a common vision. Influence doesn’t come from a position; it’s based on relationships and trust that you develop with team members. Without trust you cannot lead. It’s what sets apart leaders from managers. Managers control, leaders influence.”
4. Have a clear vision
“A strong, clear vision can be a great motivating factor. It’s a way to inspire your team, help them that they are a part of something larger than themselves. The vision can push them to accomplish more and keep going when facing obstacles. Develop strategies to work towards the vision and communicate this clearly to your team. In this way you’re translating the vision into actionable information that your team can take forward.”
5. Leaders are catalysts
“Good leaders are change makers; they create opportunities through innovation. Leaders are the ones who take the first step forward, striking the match that ignites the action. This means taking a personal interest, finding out what is the change that needs to occur. What action can you take to help people and the company advance in the right direction?”
6. Efficiency v/s effectiveness
“Good leaders have long-term vision and look beyond the mundane towards the larger picture. This includes creating a strategic plan to take your team and company in the direction dictated by its needs. Managers on the other hand are focussed on monitoring and running the day to day. It’s matter of effectiveness versus efficiency. With managers doing things right, but leaders doing the right things.”
7. Encourage dissent
“Without dissent you’re creating a ‘yes sir’ culture, which is not good for any organisation. Be approachable and welcome criticism and feedback. Use these insights to find new solutions and improve results. Ask yourself if you want to be surrounded with the ‘most capable’ people or with a team who always agrees with you. Remember a command-and-control strategy won’t get you very far.”