While enjoying a cup of coffee, I was reflecting on the many leaders I have either worked under or met during the past five decades. Which were the leaders I had the most respect for? What specific management or leadership qualities or skills did they possess? A few of these people mentored me during different seasons of my life. Here are ten strategies I collated from my experiences.

  1. Value all colleagues: treat all colleagues equally and fairly; set time aside to affirm them personally and collectively; thank them sincerely when they have gone the extra mile; always use the words, “please”, and “thank you”, preferably alongside their names; an authentic, positive email or message of appreciation and encouragement is always appreciated; celebrate their birthdays and other special occasions.
  2. Be an excellent listener who always respects their colleagues’ opinions, ideas, feelings, and frustrations. Accept that a colleague might have good ideas that will work, or proven experiences to benefit the organization. Keep an open mind and be flexible.
  3. Make sure all roles are clear and that each member of the team knows what others are doing, and promote a spirit of collaboration. 
  4. Have fun! Learn to laugh, especially at yourself. Greet each team member at the beginning of the day with a smile, and say ‘farewell’ at the end of the day (where possible).
  5. Be sensitive and empathetic. It’s a positive experience walking in the shoes of a colleague for a while. Don’t be afraid to apologize if a mistake has been made. Colleagues need to see that their leaders are fallible human beings with integrity.
  6. Be proactive, not reactive. This requires one to be well organized and in touch with team members, their circumstances, feelings – their stories. Remember, there is a solution to every problem or challenge. Never allow conflict situations to simmer, and turn every conflict situation into a positive learning experience whenever you can do so. Listen! Listen! Listen! Discuss! Discuss! Consult! Consult! Be non-judgmental, always striving to be an awesome role model.
  7. Be well organized. This involves prioritizing, planning, and staying on top of one’s administrative load; knowing when colleagues are under pressure and acknowledging this, even protecting them from others; following effective management of time practices. Respond to emails and messages from colleagues promptly, as this shows they are both respected and valued.
  8. Conduct competency reviews on time. This improves performance and personal development. Look to turn the competency review into a positive growth experience for all concerned.
  9. Have an ‘open door’ policy. Always be approachable. If a colleague needs to offload to talk, make that person a priority in your life. Sometimes a colleague might simply want to share what’s on their mind, and is not expecting any advice. At other times they might want some guidance, even reassurance.
  10. Encourage the personal development of colleagues. Promote the idea of attending courses, conferences or workshops and budget for these. Have the humility to accept that some colleagues have significant leadership skills and are keen to develop these further to advance their career.



Blog cover photo by Mini Thian on Unsplash.