1. Communication Style
Oral and written messages must be clear and specific. Employees generally want to do good work and align their priorities with what they perceive the leader wants. The more effectively a leader communicates his or her priorities, the more effort team members will contribute to accomplish them. Effective leaders provide clear and frequent communication regarding business priorities and convey information respectfully.
This factor can be a make-or-break trait. Is the leader consistent with their direction, how they treat people, their expectations and their approach to holding people accountable? Do they say what they mean and mean what they say? Do their actions match their words?
Team members closely monitor leader behavior and direction for consistency. Leader consistency enhances influence, because team members know what to expect and how to respond, and they understand the leader’s perspective. Alternatively, volatile behavior, inappropriate communications or lack of follow-through on assignments quickly inhibits a leader’s ability to influence. For example, if a leader meets with her team and tells them that finishing reports on time is important, and they see her turn in reports late, how seriously are they going to take her request? Let’s say another leader tells his staff that he has an “open-door” policy, but when they come to his office, he is short-fused and tells them they should not interrupt him. How likely are employees to come back and ask for assistance when they need it?
Does the leader care about their team members as people, and do they convey their appreciation and interest in their success? Team members work harder and demonstrate a higher level of commitment to their leader when they feel that he or she cares about them and is interested in their success. Showing that they care about someone as a person and demonstrating that they are invested in their success strengthens the relationship and increases influence and commitment.
Feedback is most effective when it is recent and frequent. Additionally, leaders should ask staff members what their personal goals are and then help them create a plan to achieve them. If someone is facing adversity, their leader should keep an open mind. It is possible to be compassionate and still hold individuals accountable.