There are a lot of really good leaders out there in the world, but there are relatively few who are truly great. Great leaders are hard to find, but the good news is that any leader can become better and more effective by adopting some simple habits and then putting them to use every day.
I am a huge fan of Jim Collins and his book Good to Great. In my own experience, I have found that doing certain things consistently and well can elevate the results and outcomes that any leader experiences with his or her people and in his or her organization. Give these 10 leadership habits a try, and become the great leader that you're meant to be.
1. Create a culture that is open, trusting, and fun
Be sure to do what you say you are going to do, and to be honest and open with everyone. Encourage your people to make suggestions, to try new approaches to old problems, and to take risks. If someone makes a mistake, encourage your people to learn from it rather than punishing the person.
2. Take the time to meet with and listen to people
Don't put a limit on these meetings--engage your people as much as they want or need.
3. Personally thank employees for doing a good job
Catch people doing things right, and thank them for their good work. Thank them often, in a timely way, and sincerely--one on one, in writing, or both.
4. Teach employees how your company makes and loses money
Ensure that the members of your team know how what they do at work makes money for the company, and how they have an effect on how the company loses money. Encourage your people to do more of the former and less of the latter.
5. Involve your people in decisions
When you involve your people in decisions that have a direct effect on them or their workplace, you will gain their commitment to the resulting solutions.
6. Provide employees with a sense of ownership in their work
When your people feel like owners, they will act like owners. Ownership can be symbolic and simple (for example, giving employees business cards), or it can be very real by providing employees with opportunities to earn rewards of company stock or stock options.
7. Provide members of your team with feedback
Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Make feedback on the performance of your employees specific and frequent, and then support them in improving it.
8. Reward and promote high performers
Be sure you know who your high performers are, and then reward them for their high performance.
9. Train and encourage those who need help
Every organization has employees who aren't performing as well as their peers. Provide them with additional training, coaching, and attention until they are able to bring their performance up to standard--or above.
10. Celebrate successes
Take time to celebrate the success of your business, your work unit, and the individuals within it. Be fresh and innovative with your ideas, and make it fun and inspiring.