How do you view leadership? Is a great team leader someone who is born with natural leadership abilities? Or can these qualities be learned and developed over time? Here at Honest Buck Accounting, we believe people can learn to become effective team leaders. In the following guide, we will explore several leadership qualities you can cultivate within yourself to become a great leader for your childcare business team. Read on to find out more.
Leader Versus Boss: What’s the Difference?
As a boss, it’s your job to tell your childcare team what to do and see that your team members fulfill their individual roles to do it.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to inspire and motivate your childcare team to share your vision, follow your guidance, and reach their individual and collective potential.
As an Early Childhood Education business owner with a team of employees, you will undoubtedly need to fill both of these roles for your employees. However, effective bosses don’t make companies great; effective leaders do.
Remember that leadership is about who you are, what you stand for, and how you communicate these truths to your team through your words and actions.
Sometimes, great leaders are born with natural leadership abilities inherent to their personality. However, more often than not, leaders become great because they constantly work on cultivating the traits of effective leadership in their personal and professional development.
We’ll take a look at a few of these traits of an effective leader next.
An Effective Leader Is Constantly Learning
Have you ever heard the best teachers described as “lifelong learners”? The same is true for the best leaders. An effective leader understands there is always something new to learn and applies himself or herself toward acquiring new knowledge and skills. Whether you learn about different aspects of your Early Childhood Education business, pursue professional development for yourself and your team, explore different management philosophies, or gain additional certifications in your field, you add value to your leadership role with each new learning experience.
Just as an effective leader is constantly learning, he or she inspires his or her team to do the same. Providing mentorship opportunities, career guidance, professional development training, and so on helps a leader to demonstrate genuine interest in the team’s growth. By exemplifying and encouraging a passion for continuing education in its various forms, a leader instills confidence in the people he or she leads.
An Effective Leader Is Open to Feedback
Another quality of an effective leader is being open to feedback from his or her team. It isn’t easy to receive personal or professional feedback in life. We often feel like we are opening ourselves up to criticism or inviting an outpouring of complaints that we wish we didn’t have to hear. But just as an effective leader must give his or her team members feedback on their job performance, so it is helpful to be open to what employees think and feel about their work and workplace.
You can invite team feedback in different ways. Some employers find it helpful to initiate an open-door policy, in which team members know they can approach their leader with questions, comments, and concerns whenever you are available. Other employers find it more effective to schedule regular one-on-one meetings with each of their employees. This gives their team members the reassurance that their questions, comments, and concerns will be addressed at a designated time. You can decide which model works best for your childcare team.
Taking the time to listen to your employees’ feedback builds trust. When your employees feel like they can come to you and have their needs addressed, they realize you care about them as people. As a result, you become a leader your team will want to follow.
An Effective Leader Communicates Well
This next leadership trait goes hand-in-hand with being open to feedback. An effective leader knows how to establish open communication with his or her team. From group communication, including team meetings and workplace enrichment opportunities (lunches, parties, trainings, etc.) to individual communication, including annual performance reviews, regular check-ins, and daily conversations, a great leader makes open communication a number-one priority.
An effective leader understands communication is not just what you say, it’s how you say it. He or she knows when to bring things up and when to leave things unsaid for another time. He or she also works on being approachable, so employees don’t feel intimidated about bringing up issues they want to talk about.
Communication is a two-way street, but as the team leader, the responsibility falls on your shoulders to be the initiator of open lines of communication. Doing so will help you build a strong and unified team.
An Effective Leader is Genuine
Authenticity is another important quality of an effective leader. He or she leads by example, practicing the same integrity, diligence, and honesty he or she expects from the team. Employees are generally pretty capable of picking up on whether their leader is genuine or not. Do your actions and words line up with your values? Your team will take notice.
Think about the people in your life, those you know personally and those you know about, whom you respect the most. What makes them a great individual/leader in your eyes? Chances are, that person has the quality of authenticity. What you see is what you get. That’s someone worth respecting, believing in, and following. That’s an effective leader.
An Effective Leader Faces Problems Head On
Leadership comes with some difficult and sometimes unpleasant responsibilities. One of these duties is to address problems when they arise. As a childcare business owner, you may need to confront a problem with a parent, child, or team member. Addressing issues within your team can be especially challenging. These are the people whom you work with every day. They are an integral part of your company. It can feel easier to try to get along with everyone and turn the other way when problems come up.
However, an effective leader knows that addressing problems with team members is critical. Your willingness to confront issues head on demonstrates your strength as a leader. The employee(s) with whom you need to confront problems will know that you take their job performance seriously. Other team members will notice the way you handle unpleasant situations. By being professional and direct, not only do you practice effective problem-solving, but you also win the respect of your team.
Becoming a great team leader takes time and hard work. If you can remember that some of the best team leaders have had to cultivate leadership qualities within themselves, then you will know you can do it too!
Honest Buck Accounting takes pride in offering full accounting services to Early Childhood Education providers like you. Let us take care of the financial side of your business, so you can focus on what you love most about it. Schedule a call with us to learn more.