26 Apr Improve These Skills to Become a Better Leader
What is a leader? Is it someone in a position of authority, simply because of their title? Is it someone who has the respect of their team? Is it someone who gives orders, insight and guidance while trying to help others learn along the way?
A leader is someone who has proven themselves to be trustworthy and insightful, who acts with the best interest of the team in mind and at the center of their actions. They will set an example of professionalism and personal action, showing how to work and act without making a big deal about it or calling attention to what they do.
A leader can be a manager, a team lead, or anyone who steers people in the right direction.
Do you want to be a leader, or improve your leadership skills to make a bigger impact on your team?
Here are a few things to consider.
1. Encourage communication and feedback.
If you’re in a position to determine and implement such things, offer regular office hours where people on your team can come by and talk, openly and honestly and without fear of repercussions. If you can create a space where people feel, and really believe, that they can come to you with concerns, questions or ideas, they will open up and learn to trust you. Trust is so valuable in a work environment; when people trust you, they’ll work harder for you. If people feel like their ideas and concerns alike are being heard and considered, they’ll feel more comfortable and invested in their position and the company. It will also provide insight into the “real” way things work at the office and can help bring to light items that could be possible problems in the future.
2. Be a role model.
Team members take their cues from leadership. They will follow the example you set. If you want them to trust and believe in you, act like someone who deserves that admiration. Show your team how to act when things go sideways or get really stressful. Show them, also, how you take the time to prioritize tasks every day, how you make the most of your time and how you handle challenges and adversity as it arises. If they see you staying calm under pressure, they’ll do the same.
3. Take responsibility.
Sometimes the best ideas don’t work out. Occasionally, a big swing will result in a big miss. Step up and acknowledge the missteps and talk about them. Don’t try to hide it or put it on someone else. Take ownership and responsibility and then talk about what you’ve learned. Every action that doesn’t go as you envisioned is an opportunity to learn, reassess and grow before trying again.
4. Set expectations, for yourself and your team, and measure progress.
At the beginning of a project, establish deadlines and goals. Set up a timeline for when things should be done, breaking the bigger piece of work into smaller milestones. See how things are going along the way and provide updates. If your team is meeting their benchmarks, that’s wonderful! Let them know and they’ll feel encouraged and energized. If they’re falling short, discuss what’s going wrong or holding things back and brainstorm a way to correct these little shortcomings. Taking the time to work together to determine how things stand and what can be improved, as well as what’s working great, can bring your team together and increase investment in the overall success of the group.
5. Give credit and praise where it’s due.
People who feel like their efforts aren’t appreciated will soon stop working as hard. People who feel like their work is taken for granted, or that every good job they do is overlooked when something goes even slightly wrong, won’t stay where they are for long. But just the simple act of calling attention to someone’s good work, a little “thank you” or “good job,” can make a world of difference. If someone feels appreciated and valued, it can make the tough times easier to stomach. If all they hear is criticism, they’ll stop caring, stop putting in the same effort and will start looking for new opportunities. It really doesn’t take much to keep most people happy at work.
A good leader can read her team, see who needs some positive reinforcement, understand who’s looking for a little guidance and know just what to say to get things back on track. If you feel you’ve fallen a little short in this regard, don’t worry — it’s easy to make corrections and get things going in the right direction while earning your team’s trust and respect.
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If you’re looking for other advice on leadership, or are looking to add to your team, contact LeadingEdge. We’ve worked with great companies throughout the country and can help you fill in whatever gaps you might have on your team. Contact LeadingEdge today and let’s get to work!