Many business people being that like many others are born leaders. Others think an individual that leadership is something that you learn and perfect with time. Regardless of how you may feel you obtained your leadership skills, there are always ways to become better at what you do. This top ten list of suggestions may inspire you to reevaluate your current leadership skills and address any issues you find need improvement.
1. Get a reality check
Finding out what others think of our leadership style can be real eye-opener, and is often the most powerful driver for change. Using a 360 survey where you receive feedback from your staff, peers and manager, gives you some concrete information on a sometimes intangible subject. Use an existing tool (and there are some highly regarded ones out there) or else simply let your staff know that you are seeking feedback from them in order to improve your style.
A word of caution though, your staff may not feel safe in giving feedback if they believe you are going to use it against them, or become defensive about what they say. It’s up to you to create a safe environment so they feel comfortable in being open and honest with you.
2. Be a Positive Role Models
As a leader, your actions set the tone for what others see as appropriate or lack there of. Show only actions that you want your team to mirror and follow. You may establish rules of conduct or have expectations for how employees should behave at work and what will not be tolerated (don’t forget the consequences). Be as clear as possible of your expectations and leave room for feedback. The best way to encourage these specific actions is to show them off yourself.
3. Don’t think of employees as things that need to be controlled or managed
Instead, give them the latitude to take actions and make decisions. Trust is a vital component of leadership. If you can’t trust people to do their jobs well, then you either have the wrong people in the jobs, or you have the right people but you haven’t trained them sufficiently. Let them do what they are there to do, without leaning over their shoulders all the time, or demanding to know how they spend each minute of their time.
4. Listen, listen, listen
If there are unhappy or disgruntled people in your business, you can guarantee that at some stage they’ve tried to tell you what the problem is. It’s likely you weren’t listening (or didn’t want to listen), or perhaps your initial reaction made the person think twice about bringing the problem to you. Truly listening is one of the greatest skills to develop, regardless of your role. Good listeners are genuinely interested, convey empathy, and want to find out what’s behind the conversation. Great leaders are great listeners -without exception.
5. Stop providing solutions
Managers often achieve their positions after being technical specialists, and so will have an opinion or view on how to “fix” situations or problems. They believe that it’s faster to tell someone what to do, or do it themselves, than give their employees an opportunity to figure it out. By always providing the answers, managers take away opportunity for their employees to learn and come up with alternative (and potentially better) ways of doing things.
6. Always be constructive
Language and communication skills set great leaders apart from mediocre ones. Don’t patronise or be critical of others – take complete responsibility for how you are heard. If you catch yourself about to make negative remarks, take a breath and rephrase your words to get your message across without the emotional attachment. Great leaders always find a way to say things calmly and constructively.
7. Judge your success by the success of your team
The true success of a leader can be measured by the success of the people that work for them. As a manager of others, your prime responsibility is to ensure the success and development of your team. If they are successful, you will automatically be successful. Focus on building their skills and removing obstacles in their way. If you can achieve this, you will see the results in the productivity, motivation and satisfaction of your employees. This in turn filters through to bottom-line results.
8. Have a Clear Vision
Who are you? What are your values? What purpose do you serve in life and at work? How do you want to influence others? How do you want to contribute to yourself, your family, friends, colleagues, and the world? If you are able to answer these questions honestly, you will be able to construct a clear vision of yourself and your world. Then, start living your life as the leader who makes any dream a reality.
In order to continue being an excelling leader, you must continue to improve yourself in every way possible. Our world is constantly changing and evolving, therefore you too must evolve and grow and follow the trend. The person who thinks they are an expert, is not really an expert unless they are up-to-date on all industry-related trends. Never stop learning. Be receptive to everyone’s perceptions and information from around the world and beyond.
10. Let people get to know the real you
Being open about yourself helps to break down the barriers that hierarchy puts in place. When your employees know the person behind the façade, that’s when you start to build the foundations of good leadership – trust and respect.
About Alex Noudelman
Alex Noudelman is a digital marketing expert at iRISEmedia. He received his Honors B.A. from York University and a Masters in Adolescent Education from D’Youville College.