Think about all the managers in your business. In fact, think about all the managers you’ve worked with in your life. How many of them were true leaders? How many of them inspired greatness from their team? How many of them got things achieved without bullying or threatening or screaming? The weird thing is, people aren’t always promoted to leadership positions because of their leadership skills – more often than not they’re promoted because they’ve got the technical knowledge and experience for the job.
If you’re looking to be promoted to a leadership role, or you’re already in one but want to do a better job at it, check out these five things you can do to become a more effective leader.
Be human and show you care
People work harder for people they like. You can get a lot achieved with the whole we’re-in-it-together mentality. It’s why Tony Hsieh of Zappos shoes makes his employees hang out after work – he knows that when you like and respect your colleagues, you’ll go the extra mile and do more to help them. A company is far stronger when it works as a team rather than in silos. Do your team like or respect you? Have you given them reasons to want to work hard for you, to help you achieve your goals? Some managers seem to forget that real people are still the driving force behind their success; real people who leave the office and have their own lives. Don’t be a benevloent dictator. Be human. Ask them how their weekend was, enquire about their family, find out what they are passionate about. You don’t have to become their best friend, but showing that you’re interested in and care about those you work with goes a long way to creating a cohesive and functional team.
Don’t hold back on giving credit where credit’s due
There’s not much more annoying than a boss lapping up praise for a job you did. And the opposite is also true: not much can beat the feeling of having your boss recognise your hard work and fist-pump moments. Forget money, status, a Mercedes Benz – most of us humans have pretty a simple desire: to be recognised for the work we do. It’s addictive and can drive people to achieve like nothing else. When someone in your company achieves success, celebrate it and give them the boost that comes from achieving. You don’t need to take an ad out in the national newspaper (though that would probably be very motivating!) – you can share the good news at a team meeting, in the company newsletter or even just recognise that person privately with a ‘congratulations, you were awesome’. If an employee feels valued for what part they play in a company’s success, there’s no stopping them and celebrating the achievements of one employee has a domino effect throughout the workplace.
Know that you don’t have to be the smartest
The smartest thing you can as a leader is show humility and be honest about what you do or don’t know. No one expects you to know everything just because you are a manager, but if you try to pretend that you do, you’ll lose followers before you know it – no one likes working for a pretender. Surround yourself by people who are good at what they do and who are guns in areas you aren’t. There’s moments where you may be challenged or intimidated by an employee’s talents and output but remember you were the smartest of them all by hiring them.
Remember that you have two ears, one mouth
So listen twice as much as you talk. As the Dalai Lama so wisely said, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know; when you listen you may learn something new.” There’s no such ailment as listening too much – you’ll notice the best leaders listen and get all the information before they press on with making a decision. Listening is an action of respect and in doing so your employees will feel that their opinions and suggestions matter. It’s empowering to be properly heard.
Help your team members achieve
As a leader, improving your team is as important as hiring the best of the best. It shows you’re willing to invest in them, to progress them through the company, and to help them do a better job. Take the time to find out how your employees want to improve and where they see themselves. Ask them if there’s anything that could help them do their job better or if there’s a related course that they’d be interested in doing. Continue to grow your employees and you’ll continue to grow your business’ success.
The best leadership tip I’ve learnt? Treat your team the way you’d like to be treated by those who lead you. Simple. Smart. Works for everyone. So why don’t more leaders do it?!