reading with a highlighter in hand
PHOTO: Jazmin Quaynor

Your leadership team is one of the most important assets your company has. Leaders motivate, train, drive change and make the important decisions you can’t make.

In its Project Oxygen study, Google identified eight top qualities needed to be a successful team lead. Surprisingly, technical skills came in last place. This demonstrates a huge disconnect between the way we promote leaders and the qualities actually needed to lead a team effectively. While it’s important that managers have the needed technical level to guide employees, soft skills such as coaching and communication are absolutely essential.

Here is a list of the seven leadership qualities Google identified and recommended reading to help your new managers develop each one:

1. Is a Good Coach

The first step to becoming a great coach is to open yourself up to growth. Often what deters us most from growing is our inability to take on constructive criticism or tasks which we’re uncertain we’ll succeed in.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck helps us overcome these barriers by teaching us to think with a growth, rather than fixed mindset. It’s only when we learn how to distinguish between growth and fixed mindset responses that we can help ourselves and others reach their full potential.

Read: "Mindset" by Carol Dweck

2. Empowers the Team, Does Not Micromanage

The main difference between a boss and a leader is that bosses direct action, while leaders inspire action. For far too long we have been using compensation and monetary rewards to motivate our people. In "Drive," Daniel Pink explains that this is all wrong. The way to truly motivate your people is by supporting them in achieving autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Read: "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel Pink

Related Article: 2 Characteristics of Effective Leaders: Authenticity and Integrity

3. Expresses Interest in Well-Being

The most influential leaders are not those whose focus and drive lay solely in increasing numbers and reaching objectives. Showing concern for your team members’ well-being will demonstrate they’re not just a worker to you but a valuable member of your team. Having a strong relationship with your employees will open up communication flows, enabling you to pick up on and address things like office conflicts or burnout before they happen.

For this reason, developing emotional intelligence has become a trend in leadership training in recent years. Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves’ influential book outlines a four-step program you can take to develop your EQ including developing your self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

Read: "Emotional Intelligence 2.0" by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

4. Is Productive and Results Oriented

Managers have a million and one responsibilities to juggle, from leading their team, advocating for their team across the organization and simply getting their own work done. The ability to strategize, organize, execute and delegate is therefore extremely valuable. In "Getting Things Done," David Allen lays out a very simple method for organizing your often hectic list of work responsibilities.

Read: "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity" by David Allen

Related Article: Customer-Centric? Employee-Centric? How About a People-Centric Culture

5. Is a Good Communicator: Listens and Shares Results Effectively

Good communication skills are a must have to become a leader your people will want to follow. The ability to give and receive feedback effectively is a major part of this. Leaders need to be able to communicate when there’s room for improvement and provide recognition when it’s due. However, one of the biggest hurdles to giving feedback effectively is first gaining trust.

We’ve all heard of Dale Carnegie’s classic book How to Win Friends and influence People. Written over 80 years ago its principles for gaining influence and communicating your way through potential conflict will always be relevant. A new version has now incorporated these principles into the specific challenges of communicating in our digital world.

Read: "How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age" by Dale Carnegie

6. Helps With Career Development

Gallup found that people who use their strengths at work are six times more likely to be engaged, 8 percent more productive and 15 percent less likely to quit. Learning new skills is important, but learning how to identify and leverage strengths in the workplace is the main differentiator between high performing teams. The problem is, not everyone knows what their strengths are. Based on a 25 year study, Marcus Buckingham’s book helps readers to identify even hidden strengths which can be translated into effective workplace tools.

Read: "Now, Discover Your Strengths" by Marcus Buckingham

7. Has a Clear Vision and Strategy

A team is made up of individuals who each have their own unique talents. As a leader you need to guide these individuals to work together towards a shared vision. In 2009 Simon Sinek published his widely read book, "Start With Why," as well as delivered the third most widely viewed TEDTalk in the history of TED. The premise was “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” To gain a loyal and dedicated team you need to develop a clear and unifying purpose behind what your team is doing. For example, a barista at a coffee shop isn’t just selling coffee, they’re helping people get energized and ready to tackle their daily challenges.

As a follow up, Sinek published "Find Your Why," which elaborates on how to put this into practice. How do you know you’re working on the right why? Can you have multiple whys? Don’t just create a vision and strategy and expect your team to follow. Before that, you need to be able to understand for yourself what your why is and why it’s important.

Read: "Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for you and Your Team" by Simon Sinek

Inspiration Awaits

Today’s managers are faced with many new challenges, from providing continuous coaching to managing remote workers. These seven reads are a great starting point to dispel outdated management practices and provide new managers with the tools they need to become effective leaders.