Thomas Ahern of Connecticut is a leader in the realm of professional development. In the modern workplace, leadership skills stand as the cornerstone of success. In the following article, Thomas Ahern offers expert perspectives on developing crucial leadership skills within the workplace, while exploring its transformative power.
Although many use the two terms interchangeably, management and leadership differ in several fundamental ways that those wishing to climb the ladder must understand. Progressing from manager to leader means shifting focus from day-to-day operations to long-term success.
Thomas Ahern of Connecticut says that this affects every aspect of the job. Leaders must understand a wide variety of stakeholders in order to successfully communicate their vision to those with varying interests in seeing the company succeed. Leaders must furthermore continue to grow and cultivate that vision over time, learning in the process how to embrace challenges and influence their colleagues to do the same.
In short, while managers are homing in on the trees they must water to ensure the success of daily tasks and short-term projects, top leaders have to prevent and extinguish fires across the entire forest at once. This requires the development of several qualities, beginning with how they address their staff.
Thomas Ahern on Communication: Leading with Emotional Intelligence
While managers face no end of constant delegation, entrepreneurs and C-level leadership risk jeopardizing the future success of an entire enterprise if they delegate vital responsibilities to the wrong person for the job. Skillful delegation can mean life or death to several key company concerns, such as:
- Operational scaling
- Long-term job creation
- Overall revenues
- Employees’ personal growth.
Thomas Ahern of Connecticut says that because so much rests on their ability to lead across multiple teams (and potentially even multiple departments) at once, leaders require a deep understanding of human nature. In the best-run companies, emotional intelligence directly correlates with a manager’s likelihood to make leadership. This is because leaders must frequently communicate consistent visions to stakeholders with vastly conflicting backgrounds, motivations, and levels of corporate literacy.
Take, for instance, the issue of transparency. Naturally, most stakeholders prefer to trust that leadership is maintaining open and honest communications. When problems arise, however, various stakeholders may react to concerning news in different ways. Some may be better off with slightly less information, while others might demand more. Leaders must assess each case correctly if they wish to keep faith in the company’s vision alive.
Vision: Why Leadership Requires a Growth Mindset
Thomas Ahern of Connecticut notes that one unavoidable roadblock many leaders will face when trying to maintain consistency in the visions they’re communicating is that markets are constantly in flux, in other words, most businesses cannot afford to stagnate. This means that most leaders will occasionally need to inspire a growth mindset among employees and investors, a task easier stated than accomplished.
Fortunately, leaders will already come face to face with this mindset before making leadership in the first place. Before they can start winning the confidence of others, budding leaders to shift their own attitudes in seven fundamental ways:
- Learning how various departments approach problem solving.
- Knowing when to integrate solutions from multiple teams.
- Modeling future strategies based on past and present market patterns.
- Identifying how a change in one department affects other departments in turn.
- Accepting that not every problem requires a solution.
- Understanding the need for diplomacy among stakeholders with conflicting interests.
- Learning to bear the weight of ongoing skepticism that accompanies a center-stage position.
Thomas Ahern of Connecticut explains that few (if any) leaders can master all seven of these with anything approaching perfection. Continuous success demands continuous learning, much of which will arise from failure. With the right mindset, however, a leader can see their vision for the company begin to take shape. More importantly, they’ll begin to see that vision shared by others.
Influence: Why Managers Delegate While Leaders Inspire
When it comes to interactions with employees and stakeholders, managers tend to lean toward the quantitative side of things while leaders tend more toward the qualitative. For example, while both roles involve their fair share of delegation, managers delegating tasks within a single, relatively streamlined department can assign certain tasks to most anyone on their team. Leaders must appoint roles based on more complex combinations of skill sets.
Thomas Ahern of Connecticut says that this, however, is when leaders are given their greatest chances to influence others. A leader might win some people over to their vision by developing a strong growth mindset and effectively communicating it with intelligence, but these qualities alone will not always convince stakeholders that they’ve backed the right horse. Leading by example is important, but it’s not everything.
True influence arises not from showing others that a certain example can be set, but rather by inviting or challenging others to set that same example themselves. Thomas Ahern says that when a fit leader delegates the right person to the right task, that individual is given a chance to see themselves in a successful light. Any leader can craft a vision on their own, but only by inspiring others can they truly watch it manifest.
Thomas Ahern of Connecticut notes that the skills required to make the leap from manager to leader are strongly interwoven. Successful leaders must know how to develop a vision that works for the company, communicate it with others, and keep their employees inspired enough to see that vision carried out. Most managers are capable of developing these skills. Only those most passionate about continuing to develop them, however, will truly succeed in the world of leadership.