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10 Boss Skills To Master Before Leading A Team

If you are a newbie manager or simply want to be a great leader, these are super-important

Workin' Girl

I was 21 when I got my first job leading a team. I managed people who were not only much older than I was but were also mostly male. On my first day, I confidently put on my high heels and power suit and unapologetically told myself that I would do a bomb job in my new role.

I wasn't bothered that I was the newbie, that I was the youngest in my department, or even that I was leading a team that didn't look like me. None of that mattered because I felt like I was called to lead for a reason.

I was in for a rude awakening.

During my first few months as a manager, my job title was good, my pay was even better, but I sucked as a boss. There was so much that I should've prepared for prior to taking on such an important role. Over time, I discovered what my leadership weaknesses were and focused on how to become a better leader.

If you're looking to get promoted or you're starting a new job as a manager, here are some things that you should prepare for and skills you should gain before deciding to lead a team.

10 Leadership Skills To Master When Leading A Team

1. Vision

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As a manager, you're often responsible for not only your team, but also for a multitude of projects and tasks. Because of this, it can be pretty easy to get caught up on the work and not on the development and performance of your team.

Good leaders are able to clearly see and act on the vision, manage projects, and can develop their team at the same time.

2. Adaptability

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As a leader, sometimes you'll manage several departments at once that are vastly different from one another. Despite this, you're the boss so their success is still your responsibility. It's important that you know enough about what they do and how their department should operate so that you can know how to manage your expectations and be able to answer questions and help when needed.

3. Project Management

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Being a manager, you'll be expected to clearly communicate and execute projects from start to finish. During this period, in order to successfully execute a project, you have to be able to successfully prioritize, organize the tasks, and inspire your team members simultaneously.

4. Delegation

When you're the boss, it's easy to look at every project as your "baby" and become obsessed with it. Instead of letting your obsession turn you into a control freak, you have to tap into the power of delegation. Keep in mind, delegation does not mean pawning off all of your work to your team. Instead, it means understanding the role that each team member has, the deadline of the work, the nature of the project, and strategically assigning portions of the task to each member based on those elements.

Once you start delegating though, the work doesn't stop. You have to remember to also trust and verify the work.

5. Organizational

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Being organized comes naturally for some people but seems impossible for others. Nonetheless, when you're responsible for people and projects, it's critical that you keep your space at least neat enough so that you can clearly find what you and your team need. Also, being organized in your space helps you become organized in other aspects of your work life including managing your team and project timelines.

6. Versatility

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Shit happens and things change in business. Sometimes, these changes are very unexpected and it disrupts you and your team's normal way of work. As the leader, you have to be able to be adaptable and be comfortable with change. On the same note, you have to be able to know how to properly prepare and communicate these changes to your team.

7. Prioritization

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As a boss, you'll often be given several assignments that might have conflicting due dates, or you may discover that you actually don't have enough team members to efficiently execute. Being able to prioritize with limited team members, stretched resources, and conflicting deadlines will help you become a better leader. It will also help you learn to reasonably set expectations and prevent employee burnout.

8. Emotional Intelligence

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A large part in successfully leading a team is having emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is defined as "the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically." Having emotional intelligence will help you understand and motivate your employees, especially at times when they need it the most.

9. Confidence

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In your line of work, you will be tested every second, and sometimes you'll feel like you're failing. Having a high level of confidence will help you get past the hard times when employees are underperforming, revenue is down, and projects are giving you a difficult time. Maintain your confidence, and understand how to instill a high level of confidence in the people you lead.

10.  Boldness

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As a manager, you may find yourself between the thin line of wanting people to like you versus just wanting to become a good leader. Sometimes you have to have hard conversations and make the tough decisions that people won't like. However, you have to be courageous enough to lead and follow through with directives, even when doing things they don't like makes you uncomfortable. You have to be bold enough to remain focused and to also not be intimidated to tell your team members what you need from them.

Now that you've checked out the skills you need to prepare for a role in leadership, what are your thoughts? Are there any skills that you struggle with the most right now? Tweet us and let us know!

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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