Becoming a better leader happens over time, and takes deliberate practice to improve at. Being, "born with it," will only take you so far. Great leaders are continual learners and practitioners. In fact, top CEOs have reported reading four to five books per month. Learning is synonymous with great leadership.
Learning what not to do, and what to drop from your routine is just as important as acquiring new skills. Acknowledging what negative habits you have and working to get rid of them is important. Here are some things that might be worth subtracting in order to add to your life and business.
Your company is your baby. So it's only natural for entrepreneurs to want to be involved in every aspect of their business.
However, this holds companies back. By micro-managing every aspect of the business you as a leader are spending time working in the business and not on the business. Micromanagement suffocates employees, halting their creativity, accountability and overall purpose.
2. Dominating conversations
Entrepreneurs who come into meetings and do all of the talking are not leading effectively. It's in your best interest not to dominate the conversation, but to acquire as much information from everyone else at the meeting as possible.
Fellow Inc. columnist, Simon Sinek, says leaders should speak last at meetings for two reasons: First, it gives everyone the feeling they have been heard and contributed to the discussion, and second, you get the ability to gather as much information as possible before giving your opinion. Learn to listen and you will learn to lead.
3. Letting your ego get in the way
Checking your ego is one the toughest and most useful things you can do as a leader. You need to realize and reaffirm that you don't know it all, your decisions are not always the best, and yes, someone can do parts of your job better than you.
Are you defensive when receiving criticism? That's ego.
Do you feel like you know better than others around every facet of your business? That's ego.
Do you feel smarter than your coworkers? That's ego.
Dropping your ego sounds easy, but ego shines through actions/decisions in the moment. Whenever you're confronted or feel your ego creeping up, take a few seconds before posturing response or taking a course of action. Consider how others are being affected, their egos and how what you're doing/saying is going to help your business goals.
4. Making decisions in a silo
Making decisions alone, without considering other opinions or ideas is not only a bad strategy but also a sign of poor leadership.
When there are big decisions to be made, it's in your best interest as a leader to hear other's ideas and bounce your ideas off of them to find the best course of action.
This doesn't mean turning your company into a democracy on every decision. There is a difference between being transparent, open to new ideas and being a democracy.
When everyone has been heard, and you've gotten as much information as possible you can make an informed decision.
5. Passing the buck
As a leader, it's your job to give away all of the credit for success to your team and take ultimate responsibility for the company's failures. You need to be accountable for everything to do with your company and your people.
It's easy to pass the buck, and that's something weak people do. If you take responsibility for mishaps within your company you will earn the respect of your team members and become a better leader.
Remember, you don't choose to be a leader, people choose whether or not to follow you.