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Who is a leader - A strong leader is one who thinks and plans ahead. He is ready with solutions and he understands the pulse of his employees. However, what are the skills which a leader must possess to be able to do his job well?

Read on to know how even YOU can be an effective leader...

Master Your Time: Effective leaders will always be in a position to manage their time well. They would know how to prioritize list of activities / pending tasks. Most important - they would know the different between 'urgent' and 'important'. Remember, not everything that is urgent is important. Also, not everything that is important is urgent.

Ask Questions: Leaders will ask questions that help them assess employees' contribution to the organization and also help employees understand how better they can contribute towards organizational goals. A Leader must ask his / her employees - the task they perform, do they feel their task is linked to the big picture, and is there anything that comes in the way of their performance.

Provide Work-Life Balance: In today's world where working hours are on a rise, an effective leader must ensure that his / her workers are able to maintain a balance between their personal and professional lives. Effective leaders should always lead by example by leaving on time, avoiding meetings during Fridays or end of the business days, not calling employees on their day off. Remember, an effective leader will have effective followers only if they are not burnt out or feel they are over worked.

Manage Employee's Professional growth: An effective leader will always chart out a personal development plan [PDP] along with his / her employee. He would identify the training the employee will need to go through keeping in mind his personal development plan. The employees will feel encouraged and valued.

Let your employees speak: An effective leader has to be a good listener. Have an "open hour" with your employees and let them speak their heart out. You will be surprised to know the number of ideas they have. Always follow and believe in the mantra "Silence is Golden". Your employees will feel they are being heard and they also have a way to express their thoughts.

Facilitate Brainstorming... Generate ideas: Effective leaders will always encourage people to get together in a room and brainstorm on ideas to solve a particular problem. Remember, discussions are always healthy and almost all the times they also help creating solutions which are mutually agreed upon.

Create Talent Pool: Smart leaders will always be ready for any shortage in staff. They will have their talent pool ready in case of any crisis situation. They will ensure that every employee has a trained / trainable back-up.

Be Courageous: As per Peter Drucker, "whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision". An effective leader will always be ready to take difficult / courageous decisions when required.

Be Competent: The art of "tooting your own horn without blowing it" is a delicate balance of demonstrating your "expertise" and "taking credit" in a way that people notice their success. And one of the safest ways to do it is to celebrate and bring attention to team achievements. Praise people for good work, and when you do so, be specific on what exactly you liked. Shaking hands is a gesture that will show them that you are actually happy about their contribution and their success. And thus, you will prove out your competence as a leader.

Be Visionary: What's lying ahead in future is a topic of fascination and has mystic charm. This is a trait of absolute confidence and should be handled with care. It is important to make goals specific, with possible outcomes and benefits, without making promises that you may not be able to keep. A successful leader knows his goals and checks if performance and goals are in symmetry.

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