5 Tips to Become a Great Leader
There’s an old saying “great leaders are born, not made.” This is a myth that mystifies the whole idea of leadership. Leadership is about learning, and everyone can learn to be a leader. The key is to keep at it. A good leader is always learning, always on top of the latest information and the pulse of their industry.
Let’s look at some of the most powerful things you can do to be a great leader:
1. Help Others Grow
The most important part of being a good leader is empowering your subordinates to grow and develop skills that will allow your organization to compete on the next level. Assessing your people’s individual strengths and weaknesses and helping them reach their full potential is an invaluable skill. Sometimes that requires knowing how hard to lean, and exactly when to step back.
Encouraging employees to have confidence in their own abilities will create an environment that allows them to take more initiative, reducing your workload. Giving your workers the tools to spread their wings can make the entire company more efficient, giving everyone in the company the latitude to get more done.
Being able to take criticism is the only way that anyone will ever grow and improve. You can’t possibly know everything, and you’re going to need input from others to be an effective leader. Your employees are closer to the ground as it were, and are in a far better position to let you know what works and what doesn’t. Being approachable is the key. Your employees need to know you care about their feedback and will take action based on their suggestions.
It is equally important to listen with your eyes as well. Sometimes things will become problems long before anyone voices it, and you can’t afford to wait that long. Developing a keen emotional IQ to be able to read body language, hear subtext, and other subtleties that signal the start of issues is paramount in being able to deal with and lead people. Managers with high EI report happier, more productive employees.
3. Fear not the Epic Fail
Fear of failure is crippling. It holds people back from taking the risks needed to achieve success. This can be fatal for any business, as competitors that embrace their ambition will be able make strides that leave them in the dust. Making missteps are inevitable in any business, as is learning from those mistakes. You need to make the decisions faster than the competition and that requires a lot of research and quite a bit of insight. Knowing when to make your move and when to stand your ground takes time to perfect, and is the cornerstone of business.
4. Be self-assessing, not self-critical
Self-evaluation is an invaluable tool to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Seeing where you fall short can help you find ways to bridge those gaps in your ability. Honest assessment is all a part of delegation. It’s not a failing, just a chance to restructure. Finding people who can complement your skills and working to understand and play to their strengths while mitigating their weaknesses is all a part of being a leader.
Ask yourself, what do you excel at? Where are your pitfalls? Who is good at doing the things you can’t? Think of how to structure your teams in the most effective way to clear your goal.
5. Encourage Teamwork
No leader stands on their own. By definition, a leader needs a team of people working with them to achieve goals. Fostering teamwork is an excellent way to do this. A good team dynamic will make work go smoother and be less stressful.
Another important element of this is the work/life balance. When forming teams, you must make sure they are adequately staffed. Giving workers too heavy a workload can undermine team efforts as overworked staff make more mistakes, have a lower quality of work, have difficult relationships with coworkers, and are more likely to quit. This of course can cause schisms in your teams. Employees need a good work/life balance to be effective.
Remember that becoming an effective leader will take time, focus and a lot of missteps along the way. It won’t happen overnight, and will require a commitment to improving your skills and honing your natural talent. You don’t have to be the head of a company to take advantage of these tips, as initiative and cooperation are sought after traits in any employee.