Even the most successful leaders will agree that being an effective, well-respected and inspiring company leader does not always come easy. Whether you’ve just started running your own business, are taking on employees for the first time, or have been running a company for some time, and are wondering where you’re going wrong. It could be that your leadership skills just aren’t up to scratch.
The good news is that there are several actionable steps that you can take to start improving your leadership strategy, starting today. Becoming a better leader isn’t something that is going to happen overnight, but if you’re willing to put the work in and determine what inspires your team. If you can stick to that, you will begin to quickly see a lot of positive changes. Check out this list of actionable, simple and positive tips that will help you get down to running your business like a boss.
When it comes to being a better leader, you need to show rather than simply tell. It’s difficult to foster much respect or admiration for a manager who hides away in their office all day and isn’t willing to take on any of the tasks that they have employees carry out. Even worse, a manager who lives by the motto of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ is not going to command any respect. If you want employees to be punctual, then you should ensure that you are never late - in fact, be early! if you want your employees to appear professional at all times, make sure that you are a shining example of how this is done. A good leader knows how to set the tone that they want, and employees will follow it.
Many people don’t realize that there is actually a lot of differences between a leader and a boss. Although both are ‘in charge’ of a company or team, a boss tends to simply be somebody who tells others what to do, whilst a good leader is always comfortable when it comes to sharing the spotlight with his or her team, and will always give others credit where it is due. If you tend to take all the credit for the successes of the team that you run, it’s time to rethink your mindset - a good leader knows that it’s the team that has got them to where they are, and isn’t afraid to share these feelings.
Effective and clear communication is not only crucial in the office, but also in pretty much every aspect of life. A good leader will go above and beyond to make sure that they are heard and understood, but do so in a way that is empathetic and kind. And, a good leader knows that simply being heard is not enough - they are concerned with listening to others and take active steps to improve their listening skills, too. After all, communication is never a one-way street and a good leader knows that embracing and making the most of this will propel their company forward.
Another character trait that tends to be common amongst good and effective leaders is that they are very self-aware. And, even the most caring and kindest of leaders will have limits and boundaries. When you have set firm boundaries that you stick to as a leader, you will command respect from your team, compared to somebody who is not firm or consistent with boundaries at all. Knowing what you will and will not tolerate will save everybody on your team a lot of confusion and frustration, and will make your life easier at work too - being inconsistent only usually leads to misunderstandings that could have been easily avoided. Put your communication skills into practice when it comes to setting clear boundaries with your team. And, respect the limits and boundaries of others.
Great leaders are humble and they know that there is no way that they are ever going to know everything, no matter how knowledgeable they become. In fact, a quality that makes many good leaders so well-respected is that they are always hungry to learn more, and they are not afraid to admit when they don’t know something. They are happy to let anybody teach them something new and actively seek out new ways to learn things, whether it’s by attending networking events or taking a course in something totally new – IT for example.
Meetings might not be the most interesting part of anybody’s job but as the saying goes, time is money, after all. As an effective leader, one of your priorities is undoubtedly limiting time wasting and tangents during staff meetings, keeping things to the point and getting as much as possible out of a short amount of time. Sit down with your team and come up with strategies to make meetings more productive for everybody.
Micromanaging is not a quality to be found in a good leader. Know that micromanagement is only going to frustrate good employees and leave them looking for somewhere else to work, in a worst-case scenario. Of course, there are always going to be times where you will need to give an employee or team member some instructions or talk them through things, but aside from when necessary, an effective leader understands the importance of being able to trust their team. After all, you hired them because you believed them to be a good fit for the job - so they don’t need checking up on every hour. When you let team members get on with it and trust them to deliver, you may be surprised at how much better the results you get actually are.
Working with a mentor - ideally, a strong, effective leader who you respect and look up to - can be a great way to improve your own leadership skills. As you can learn by the example that they set, and the conversations that you are able to have with them. Ask searching questions of your mentor and encourage conversations that allow you to really think about and figure out what you need to do personally in order to improve your own leadership abilities.
No good leader was born exactly that way - even the best natural leaders have had to learn by trial and error or their own past mistakes in order to truly figure out what they needed to do to get to where they are today. Bear in mind that you are only human - mistakes are going to be made. Rather than seeing them as a setback, engage your positive leadership mindset and see them as an opportunity for future growth and improvement instead. Consider every mistake that you make as a chance to determine how you could make different, improved choices in the future.
When it comes to being an effective leader, it really is all about your mindset. Getting in the leadership mindset involves being humble, and improving your communication skills. Additionally, figuring out how you can do things better in the future, while setting the best example to your team.