Do you have the qualities to become a good leader? What are the challenges of leadership? Read for leadership advice!
“I don't know how, you should ask the leader, they’ll have the answer to it!”
“The team lead should’ve known that it was the wrong decision!”
“I don't know how they’re qualified to lead the team!”
Have you ever heard or say any of these to your peers during a group assignment or project before? Or maybe you’ve heard your seniors or older siblings rant to you about their leaders at their workplace?
Well, hey! Here’s a wake up call for you. Leadership is not about being a superhero like Captain America in the Marvel Universe fighting criminals around the globe where any wrong decision made will be fatal to the whole team. Snap out of your imagination bubble and come back to reality! Here in real life, no one’s perfect but anyone can be a leader and even leaders make mistakes. There’s no one-size-fits all manual handbook to be the perfect leader. Everyone has different ways of leading the team and only through experience and fallbacks will you learn and become wiser. In the words of Vince Lombardi, “Leaders are made, they are not born.”
Whether you’re working on a group assignment, or even at work, leadership is more than just telling others what to do. The role comes with great responsibilities and you need to take ownership of it. Do you think you’ve what it takes to be a leader? Here, I’ll share what are the challenges of leadership roles:
As a leader, it’s your duty to take initiative to start as your team members look to you for direction. According to Frese and Fay (2001), taking initiative is defined as, “Work behaviour characterised by its self-starting nature, its proactive approach, and by being persistent in overcoming difficulties that arise in pursuit of a goal.”
Instead of wandering aimlessly about what to do, you need to be proactive by taking the first step whether it’s starting the planning process for your group work or delegating tasks to your members so that each person knows their roles in the team. To do this, you’ll also need to be clear of the direction and objective of your project before you can proceed. So that also means taking the initiative to clarify your project goals with your teachers or lecturers before getting started.
While taking the first step can seem like a daunting thing to do, rest assured that it gets easier as you progress and take on more leadership roles. You’ll also gradually build your confidence and become a self-starter, a trait that is useful especially when you enter the workforce in the future.
One of the challenges of being a team leader is coordinating and getting your team members to work together. If you’re lucky, everyone can get along pretty easily with little to no disagreement. However, conflicts can happen and that’s when your leadership credibility is put to test.
You’ll have to be the middle person to come up with a solution by getting both parties to compromise and come to an agreement. The tough part is probably maintaining a neutral side and being objective and presenting all sides of an argument and letting everyone's voices be heard.
As you step into college and uni life, you’ll definitely be faced with people from all walks of life. It’s inevitable that you’ll meet people you like and people you don’t. And that means sometimes you’ll have to lead people whom you disagree with.
But remember, don’t let your personal disagreement cloud your judgement and always maintain a professional front when working with them. The last thing you want is to appear petty and unprofessional in front of your peers.
As a leader, you may feel the need to appear confident to lead your team. Many have the idea that being in leadership positions means you’ve to know and decide everything on your own. Thus, you may feel like you’re alone when making decisions.
However, feeling lonely as a leader is common, everyone has emotions and there is no right or wrong when it comes to your feelings. Instead of thinking of a solution alone and bearing the decision making pressure alone, be open with your team. Create discussions and give everyone a chance to express their thoughts. Don't be the high and almighty leader who thinks they have all the answers and solutions to every problem. Try asking your team, “What’s your opinion about this?” or “How do you think we can improve this to make it better?”. You’ll never know what brilliant ideas can come about from a brainstorming session with your team.
Besides getting more ideas and being more productive, your team members will feel more engaged working together and this will create a deeper bond to work closely together. Thus, you’ll not feel so lonely making decisions and bearing everything alone as you share the same workload and have more discussion or things to talk about.
There's no doubt that communication skills are crucial in many aspects of life, especially if you’re stepping into the workforce and taking on leadership roles. Hence training yourself from the beginning to express your thoughts and opinions clearly is necessary.
Being a leader, your team members rely on you to relay messages whether it’s from your teachers, lecturers, or even yourself to set the direction of the project. Unclear communication will cause confusion and possibly lead to your team members producing the opposite result.
Sure, it sounds easier said than done. But one of the things you can do if you’ve tough time to express yourself is by writing down what you wish to say and then structuring them (in an organised and orderly manner) so your teammates don’t get lost, before communicating with them.
For more tips, you can find out how to communicate effectively here.
This is one of the things that’s easier said than done. If you’re just getting started on the tropes of leadership, you may feel like you need to take control of all responsibilities or you may think that since you can do it, there’s no need to hand it to others.
But delegating tasks helps to get things done faster and reduce stress on you and your members who may feel like they’re being micro-managed otherwise. Good leadership involves letting go and trusting that your team will be able to manage just fine without your help all the time.
You’ll also give your team opportunities to grow, learn, and work on new skills as well!
So the next time you’ve got a group assignment, show off that leadership quality in you and assign the tasks to your members instead.
I hope I didn’t demotivate you to take up the role of a leader but rather understand that although it may be a challenging role, it’s a deep learning curve for you to step into the working world. Don’t worry if you haven’t mastered any of these skills yet, you’ll surely learn as you take on more leadership roles.
And as a team member, don’t forget to be more understanding and supportive towards your leader instead of complaining about their flaws and imperfections!
Lastly, to all the leaders out there, I salute you for being brave enough to step out of your comfort zone to take the lead. I applaud your perseverance!
Michelle Ling Xin Hui is currently pursuing a Bachelor in Information Technology at Taylor’s University. She is also the president for Taylor’s Leo Club.
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