5 Ways to Become a Better Leader Today
As a leader, you have the opportunity to directly and positively influence the success of not just your organization, but also the people who work for you. One of the hallmarks of successful leaders is that they are genuinely concerned about their people's personal growth and success. Think carefully about changes you can make in these five areas, and you'll see fast results in how your employees respond to your leadership:
1. Accept the Challenge
Outstanding leaders embrace the challenge of leadership. They understand it is a way of life, not a box to check off on the way to the top, and they sincerely want to work with people and help their organizations succeed. This may sound simple enough, but it is not always so easy. To work with people, you must constantly put into practice superior interpersonal and social skills--your job is to motivate, support and remove obstacles so employees can do their jobs.
2. Skip Fixes That Don't Stick
Effective leaders do not rely on gimmicks or quick fixes to overcome challenges to their organizations--they consider themselves life-long learners, and they constantly put into practice methods intended to facilitate productivity. They are always looking for ways to help employees improve their productivity and ability to get results. Instead of relying on tips and tricks, be a life-long learner. The key is to keep learning and evolving. Expose yourself to new ideas and discover what works for you as a leader by putting these ideas into practice.
3. Partner With Your Employees
Successful leaders continually cultivate partnerships with their employees, working alongside their people to simultaneously meet objectives and help the employees grow. Build a successful partnership with your employees with good two-way communication and a sound understanding of goals. When possible, offer employees more responsibility in the partnership. Communicate with your employees, provide them with the support they need for success and work with them to make great things happen.
4. Establish Two-Way Trust
Build and maintain open and honest communication with your employees. Encourage employees to communicate constructively among themselves and with management. This promotes two-way trust and an environment in which people feel empowered to speak out when challenged or frustrated. Without the fear of reprimand, employees can celebrate as a group when things are going well and feel confident to seek out solutions when challenged.
5. Be Open to New Ideas
Once trust is firmly established, it's likely that your employees will communicate ideas for improvement. It's a natural outcome of a productive environment: When people feel valued and trusted, they create and innovate. Take the time to listen to them, as someone may discover a solution to a long-standing issue or challenge a long-standing assumption. Today's business environment often requires entrepreneurs and executives to do more with less. Tighter budgets, fewer employees and demands for quick returns on investments are challenges to most organizations. Use technology and tools creatively and efficiently, but don't overlook the potential of one of your greatest assets: your employees. Be open to their ideas and implement them when it makes sense.
You can be a better leader--starting today. What are you waiting for?
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While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest Inc.com columns, and visit him anytime at petereconomy.com.