Effective leadership is a skill that can benefit us all from time to time. While teachers, parents and managers will obviously require effective leadership on a daily basis – the rest of us will also be unlikely to go through life without ever taking up the mantle of ‘leader’. But once you are in command, regardless of whether you wanted the position, how can you make sure to make the most of it? Bellow are some tips that can help you with effective leadership – to both get the most out of your subordinates and to ensure they want you to remain as your leader.
Wear red – You wouldn’t think it was crucial to effective leadership, but for a slight psychological edge wearing red can be useful. Colours all have different affects on us unconsciously and red is the colour that invokes a sense of leadership – think of Red Ranger.
Make yourself larger – The more imposing your figure the more likely others are to take your instructions seriously. Again this works unconsciously but it a) prevents others from wanting to get on your bad side and b) makes you seem more powerful and therefore in more of a position to preach. It’s a personal pet hate when you go to a graduation and all the ambassadors, chancellors and honorary old guys walk around the hall with sticks. Often they can barely stand up straight or are so overweight they’re out of breath after a lap of the hall. It’s obvious that these guys have achieved and hoarded power in the university because they didn’t have any in their real lives – if they want respect they need to put some effort into their physical condition.
Speak clearly – Oration is one of the most important skills for effective leadership – and as Obama (and Hitler…) proved the ability to deliver a good speech can win you thousands of followers. Work on your own speaking skills then to be a good leader and practice speaking more slowly and deeper – this way your instructions will also carry more weight…
Pay attention to your presentation – If you want people to respect you then you first need to respect yourself and making yourself look the part will play a big role in effective leadership for many reasons. Firstly, if you look the part and have an element of style then your subordinates will think that you’re successful in life and they’ll want to emulate that. Now that you have something to offer them and seem to know how to achieve a high status it will be in their best interests to listen to you.
At the same time dressing like a leader will affect both your and their psychology and result in a self fulfilling prophecy. You’ll feel more confident in a suit and so will walk taller and speak more firmly. At the same time they will get the impression you’re successful and knowledgeable and be more likely to obey you. Similarly they’ll see that you take your job seriously and care about what you’re doing – which will make them more likely to feel the same. Finally if you take time and effort in your appearance it will show that you respect yourself and expect to be shown a fair amount of respect by others. Think about your own interactions – around most people you use at least some form of impression management whereas with others it suddenly drops and you feel no need to make an effort. Those people are the ones with no self respect.
Use ‘transformismo’ – Transformismo is an effective leadership technique used by Stalin in Russia that shows great psychological insight and can be useful for anyone today. The basic concept is that if you have a political enemy – or someone spreading criticism among your ranks, then rather than attack them – thereby angering them further and giving credibility to their arguments, you should instead put them in a position of power. This way you keep them close to you (keep your friends close…), give them a distraction that will take their attention away from your faults, show them the difficulty of your responsibilities, and most likely win them back in the process. If nothing else they won’t want to bad mouth you further in case they lose their prestigious new position, and actually opponents can sometimes be exactly what we need to see a new perspective on a scenario.
Divide the nay-sayers – At the same time you should not allow more than one critic to speak to each other or they’ll enforce each others doubts – make sure if you have disillusioned members of your team that you keep them separate and pair them off with your more loyal followers in the hope that the good word will spread. Effective leadership is about tactics.
Explain your reasoning – By explaining your reasoning you are showing your subordinates a certain amount of respect and will give them confidence that you know what you’re doing. Effective leadership requires you to know what your plan is and why at all times and if they suspect you don’t you’ll quickly lose followers.
Listen – Listening to your subordinates will again make them feel respected, make you seem less tyrannical, and will make it seem that you have their best interests in mind. Furthermore you might just learn something and it’s a great way to spot trouble before it occurs.
Avoid hypocrisy – If you demonstrate hypocrisy – saying one thing and doing another – then that’s one of the surest ways to lose followers. Lead by example at all times.
Hire stooges – Planting allies within the ranks to spread the good word about you or your plans subtly can be a great way to get your message across in a way that seems objective (which will make it better received).
Believe in your orders – If you don’t believe in what you’re doing then neither will your followers and you can’t expect them to care about something you don’t. If your heart isn’t in it then you shouldn’t be in a leadership position.
Remain calm – Effective leadership requires you to stay calm at all times. This will reassure the troops that you have everything under control and are emotionally stable enough to make the best decisions.