5 Traits of Great Leaders
As FGIA’s executive director, I have a lot of responsibilities, but limited time. After more than 20 years of experience in the industry, the last several of which have been in executive roles, I have learned a lot about leadership. With the online FGIA Leadership Development Program currently open for enrollment, I’ve been thinking about leadership lately and have settled on five traits that I’ve observed in great leaders and that I believe can go a long way to making sure your team is content and feels validated, and that your organization stays on course.
Delegate: Trust employees to do their work and do it well. When leaders delegate tasks to their team members, they allow themselves the time and space needed to focus on the higher-level needs and the strategic plans of an organization. Plus, trusting employees to perform their roles builds confidence and creates a sense of ownership and investment which can positively influence the outcome. FGIA’s staff “tree” clearly defines areas of responsibility for each role to keep the operations organized and to designate tasks to the best expert on the team.
Play the long game: Strategic planning is an important way to make sure you know where you want to lead your team and your organization. Although 2020 threw almost everyone’s plans a major curveball, it’s time to move away from triage and back to setting long-term strategies. FGIA takes time each year to review its goals and plans to reach and fulfill both. But recognize that sometimes goals and plans change – don’t be afraid to evolve your mission when necessary. The plans we had in place pre-pandemic need a full re-assessment to determine if and how they fit into our post-pandemic world. So, take time to plan and assess progress to make sure the team hasn’t veered off path and to confirm the path is still the right direction.
Invest in your team: FGIA is proud to have a seasoned team, boasting an average of 9 years of service across our staff. In addition to offering an excellent benefits package, FGIA ensures a content team by investing in their success through flexible work schedules, regular staff appreciation celebrations like Summer Staff Week and our holiday parties, and ongoing training. To further your team’s expertise, consider a bulk order of FenestrationMasters®, which covers the majority of the AAMA library of technical documents for product and material performance. For professionals newer to the industry or with a less technical role, FenestrationAssociate® certification may be a more appropriate option.
Build trust: In addition to day-to-day communication, transparency is key. Make sure your team knows what is going on and keep them in the loop – even when the news you bring is less than stellar. Your employees will respect you for it. When the pandemic began, FGIA began holding periodic staff meetings to explain the factors being considered in office operations decisions, including how employee health, safety and home-life adaptations factored into those decisions, as well as to relay the financial health of the organization and any potential impacts on the team and our operations. The open and truthful sharing of such details instilled confidence and allayed uncertainty. Silence can fester and prey on people’s worst fears, so do what you can to keep the lines of communication open.
Ask for feedback: Along those lines, it is important to receive information as well and to make sure employees and customers feel comfortable coming to you with suggestions for improvements. We send out member surveys to ask those who make our organization work how we can better serve them. The pandemic was a key moment for this and survey results helped FGIA adapt quickly and effectively to meeting our membership’s needs.
For more information on great leadership traits and to learn how to be a great leader every day, consider taking part in FGIA’s Leadership Development Program; enrollment is open until March 31. Learn more at FGIAonline.org/BeAGreatLeader.