It's the new year, and we're all hoping to stick to our resolutions and improve ourselves. When it comes to leadership, there are methods you can put in place early to ensure success by mid-year, or sooner.
No matter your title or position, you hold some level of persuasion on the team. If you take the initiative to improve your leadership skills, others will take note.
To get started, I got valuable insight from four executives who shared the leadership methods they swear by, and which instigated their fast track to success.
1. Listen first, execute second.
Remember that you were hired because you had unique ideas and a concrete understanding of your industry. No matter where you fall on the totem pole, your voice matters. If you're in the meeting, your boss wants to hear your ideas and solutions.
For that reason, John Wuycheck, the senior Vice President of Franchise Development for Kahala Brands advises leaders practice active listening. "Be a good listener and then help your team's ideas succeed," shared Wuycheck.
His team members have great ideas and passions for the work they do. Wuycheck has found that if he asks them questions about how to solve an issue, the best answers come from them and then, as a team, they work together to execute that idea. "They become part of the process, a better solution comes forward, and now they are vested in the solution," says Wuycheck.
2. Be present.
One thing you must never underestimate is the power of personal connection, says Ashley Morris, the CEO of Capriotti's Sandwich Shop. "Building relationships and trust are essential to being an effective leader. Remember to respect colleagues, clients, and employees by being present. Try putting your phone and laptop away during meetings to allow yourself to do so. Make eye contact and show your team that you actively listen and value their ideas."
3. Open the floor for safe dialogue.
"A large part of our leadership involves colorful conversations; we love to glean unique ideas from our teams and franchisees alike," said Penny Penny Rehling, COO and Amy Freeman, CEO and CO-Founder of The Spice & Tea Exchange.
"We've learned over the years that managing from the top can limit a company's greatest potential, so we invest with time and trust by allowing everyone to have a seat at the table. It fosters an incredible amount of collaboration and builds strong strategic teams throughout The Spice & Tea Exchange."
When leaders invite open dialogue and encourage everyone, no matter their role or rank, to partake in campaigns and projects of all nature, it establishes comfort, which increases productivity.
Moreover, says Rehling, "creativity flows and projects and initiatives move much faster, with greater success. Being a part of something successful is quite empowering and amazingly contagious."
4. Grow others through mentorship.
If you jive well with someone at work, see if they'd be interested in growing a professional relationship. This allows you the opportunity to flex your leadership muscle while also helping to build the next generation of leaders.
"Whether you are beginning your career or it's already established, arguably one of the most important factors to your success will be if you have a quality mentor," notes Shelly Sun, CEO and Founder of BrightStar Care.
Having a supportive and wise leader who can provide his or her employees with unique opportunities can make all the difference in an individual contributor's professional development
"On the reverse side," adds Sun, "don't forget to be a mentor to those who are following in your footsteps. You might hold a wealth of knowledge that others can benefit from -- and who knows, you may learn a thing or two from your mentee along the way as well."