Five Pillars of Successful Leadership

Many IT professionals have a deep understanding of communications technology, from voice, text, video and web to the latest applications and collaboration tools. But it takes more than technical knowledge to take the next step in your career, as we discussed at a “Pillars of Successful Leadership” session at Avaya ENGAGE 2020 in Phoenix.  

For instance, you need to be able to translate technology solutions into business terms that your senior leadership team will understand. You should also develop your “people skills” in order to engage and motivate other members of your team, get funding for your projects efficiently, and achieve your personal and professional goals.  And if you aspire to be a leader at any level in your organization, mastering these five pillars will put you well on your way to success.

Pillar 1: People Are Important

Effective leaders know that people are important. By connecting with other people and building relationships, they can multiply their impact on an organization.  For example, they listen carefully to others, and share their personal experiences when appropriate. They provide clear direction and desired outcomes when making assignments.  And they know that expressing appreciation for a job well done is one of the best ways to make people feel special.

Pillar 2: Equity not Equality

It’s important for you to understand the differences between these two concepts.  Everyone you meet is an individual with a unique personality and set of skills. They are not equally interchangeable parts on a corporate assembly line.

But as a leader you need to think about equity – giving each individual the support, training and working environment they need to succeed.  A new parent, for instance, might welcome a flexible working schedule that includes more time at home.  But avoid making decisions based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other factors that have no bearing on an individual’s ability to do the job at hand.

Pillar 3: Managing Up

Before you can become a leader, you must learn to be a follower. That means stepping outside yourself and looking at workplace situations from a different perspective. In her best-seller, Managing Up, author Mary Abbajay says, “Leadership in the 21st century is much more about influence than authority, so learning to appreciate and adapt to people with different perspectives, priorities, and personalities is a key skill to develop. Learn how to look beyond your own needs and perspectives and consider the needs and perspectives of others. If nothing else, by managing up you will learn what kind of manager you want to be and what kind of manager you don’t want to be.”

Pillar 4: Managing Difficult Situations

As a leader, you can expect to be faced with difficult situations.  After all, the easy decisions are probably being made at lower levels in the organization.  So, think about how you would respond to an urgent problem that has no easy answers.  For example, would you flip a coin, do a quick analysis, or get input from other managers? Take the time to consider what strategy you would adopt when everything goes wrong,

Pillar 5: Time Management

It’s almost impossible to be an effective leader without developing your time management skills.  In a fast-paced world where every moment counts, you need to be able to set goals, create implementation plans and meet the deadlines.  There are many tools to help you with these processes, once you make a commitment to use your time wisely.

So, if you want to become a leader, you should start taking charge of your workplace experience. That may mean learning new skills, adopting a new attitude, or even moving to a new company. So put in the extra effort and be willing to move out of your comfort zone.  The rewards in terms of satisfying career can be tremendous!

Jayne Hogle is the Senior Manager of UC Communications at the American Heart Association.