As we look to the last month of the year and into the new year, it's always a good idea to start thinking about your leadership skills. Are there ways you can improve? Is there an area where you need more training? Can you pat yourself on the back a little and say you've excelled at building relationships with your employees?
I've looked back a few times now and realized how I could have done things a bit differently in my previous career as a corporate manager. Here are a few more ideas.
1. Use power words
Power words can help you lead more effectively. They demonstrate a decisive attitude and quick thinking. Don't just tell your team to finish a project--ask them to have some fervency and vigor. Avoid saying you need something now--add a few syllables and say immediately. Add some vibrancy to your verbiage.
2. Only use business gadgets during work hours
Does being a leader mean you have to work constantly? Not really. In fact, if you can lead effectively in an eight-hour span, it means you have figured out how to do the job. Commanding people to do things at 9PM at night shows everyone you are disorganized.
3. Dress like everyone else
I've been impressed with a few founders I've met on business trips who look exactly they are one of the team. It helps tremendously. Wearing a suit denotes power and authority--it also separates you from the masses. Wear a suit or a sharp outfit to the investor meeting. Otherwise, it's best to try and fit in and let you knowledge and wisdom speak for itself.
4. Buy the finer coffee
Wait, isn't coffee just a practical necessity in the office or (depending on how much you need caffeine) a luxury? In a startup, getting the cheap stuff at Costco sends a message to employees that you don't really care about their tastes. Plus, it doesn't cost that much more to spring for the finer roasts and build up morale.
5. Hit the soup kitchen
I've noticed how the best leaders in business have one eye trained on the goals of the company--and another on the trials of society at large. Good leadership sometimes can mean stooping to help the lowly. Volunteer at a soup kitchen and bring along a couple of employees. They will see that you are human, that you care about the needs of others, and that you are not all about work. Oh, and the people you are serving will also benefit.
6. Smile even during the stressful times
Life is short. Try smiling more at work even when you are stressed out. It's one sign of a good leader that you can not just handle the pressure and cope, but you can actually rise above it and stay positive. Everyone notices when your attitude stays consistent.
7. Be true to yourself
One final parting thought in my series of leadership tips. (Well, until I start another series.) Anyone can pretend to be in charge, stomp around and chew out low performing employees. That's not too difficult. Faking authority and knowledge is a good way to convince people you should not be leading them. Be yourself. Admit failures. Show them you are human. Your employees will be ready to follow.