To become a good leader, one must first be a great follower. Yet it’s not unusual to find employees at various levels of hierarchy across many organisations who struggle to develop the qualities of an effective follower. Still, employers seek such qualities in potential candidates for the management or other leadership roles. Sometimes, an employee might be fortunate enough to receive guidance from a mentor within the workplace, but what can you do in the absence of such mentorship? Here are some ways you can improve and become a more effective employee and future leader.
Strive for continued learning
Whenever employees encounter challenges at work, you’re likely to hear some mention of lacking the right tools for a given job. Of course, a large part of this is the employer’s responsibility; a welding workshop needs to find pipe rotators for sale and train welders in their use to safely maneuver large vessels.
But besides mastering the necessary hardware and operational know-how, every employee can become more effective by learning various soft skills. Often, things such as good communications or time management are just as critical to performance as the basics, yet not every organisation will dedicate the resources for training people in these aspects. Be self-reliant when it comes to continued learning. Identify these essential soft skills in your job and find opportunities to learn and practice at work.
Be a problem-solver
Many people can be hesitant about voicing concerns or venturing to suggest improvements with the higher-ups at work. Yet good management knows that listening to employee feedback is vital to the success of the collective. On the other hand, raising a complaint without providing any input towards a solution is also unproductive and can create a negative impression of any employee.
One key to being more effective, even as a follower, is finding the right balance of identifying potential issues and knowing the actions that can help solve the problem. Be a problem-solver at work, but don’t overstep. Take immediate and necessary actions within your role, and engage your leaders to give insights on how a situation can be improved for everyone.
One of the most sought-after qualities of a great employee is ownership, and this is something that will only grow in importance as you take on a more advanced role in leadership. Taking ownership, in essence, means thinking like the company’s owner or founder. You embrace the values of your organisation, put team success first and demonstrate initiative. While leaders must ensure that their people feel empowered to make a difference, any employee can also take steps to display ownership of their role. Don’t be afraid to speak up about what matters to you and the sort of tasks that most align with your passion. This gives competent managers the information they can use to maximise your level of motivation and performance and puts you in a position to do work that you want instead of going through the motions.
Many factors that influence individual performance and success in the workplace may be out of your control, but these means towards self-improvement are within everyone’s grasp. Take the initiative and train yourself with the right skills and attitude to be a great employee and future leader.