All successful businesses owe their success to great leadership. If figures such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had not been such phenomenal leaders, Apple and Microsoft would never have conquered the world.
While not every business can become a behemoth, an effective leader can turn around the fortunes of any enterprise. Unfortunately, becoming a good leader isn’t as easy as we would like it to be.
But it isn’t out of reach though. The following are tips to help you become a great leader.
1. Keep Learning
Effective leaders must be lifelong learners. Continuous education helps leaders keep pace with industry trends and new developments. You also get to see things from a different perspective.
While the traditional way of learning has mostly revolved around attending a physical class, you can listen to podcasts, attend webinars or even take up an online course today without leaving the comfort of your home or office.
2. Encourage Career Development
People want to gain knowledge and build skills that will help them be successful in their careers. And it makes them feel treasured if the company they work for is willing to invest in their development.
You cannot become a successful leader if you have a high staff turnover rate, and there is no better way of building employee loyalty than investing in them. As such, if the finances allow, set aside a budget for employee development. This might include sponsoring them for short courses, organizing training or sponsoring them to attend conferences or industry events.
3. Improve Your Communication Skills
Healthy communication is a leading predictor of business success. Business leaders must motivate, inspire, and instruct their employees. To accomplish this, they must be effective communicators. A few simple ways to improve your communication skills include:
- Practice emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is being in tune with other peoples’ feelings and emotions. A study by Talent Smart found that emotional intelligence is responsible for 58% of success in any job.
- Pay attention to nonverbal communication
Studies place the importance of nonverbal communication equal to or higher than that of verbal communication.
- Become a good listener
Good business leaders should genuinely listen to the concerns of their subordinates
Good communication ensures that instructions and expectations are well understood. It also ensures that you get feedback and valuable insights from your employees.
4. Encourage Feedback
Creating a culture of honest feedback is essential for leaders that want to understand their employees better and learn how things are on the ground. Here are a few ways to encourage employee feedback:
- Survey your employees
Surveys can help you to send a message to all staff that you are listening to, identify areas where you want to make changes, and get employee complaints.
- Assign feedback coaches
The key to getting sincere feedback from employees might be to allow employees to choose who they give feedback to. Instead of having your employees give feedback to you, encourage them to choose from a list of designated feedback coaches.
- Conduct exit interviews
Interviews with departing employees can yield a lot of information. Departing employees are more likely to open up than other employees.
- Ask for ideas
Solicit for new ideas during meetings. Do not openly disapprove any idea no matter how impractical it sounds as this may cause people to hold back.
5. Let Your Employees Know How They are Faring
The best way to guide your team in the right direction is to give direct feedback. This way, employees can know what you honestly think about them and their work, which could help them improve. Feedback should include honest performance reviews and recognition of employee accomplishments.
6. Lead From the Front
Leadership is more than just giving instructions to people. Good leaders work with their teams instead of lording it over them.
To be a good manager, you need to make yourself accessible to your employees whenever possible. Having an open-door policy is great, but it is not enough. If possible, be personally involved with the projects the people directly under you are running.
7. Be More Decisive
Indecisive leaders are often ineffective. Too much effort on consensus building can often have a negative effect. Leaders can become more decisive by having a problem-solving protocol. Such a protocol provides a framework to react to new issues.
8. Set Clear Goals
Every employee should be able to articulate how the work they do supports the success of the organization.
To enable this, you should set clear goals and expectations for your team. Include employees in the process of setting these objectives. This will not only increase engagement but ensures you don’t put them under unnecessary pressure by setting unrealistic goals or targets.
Leadership can be the difference between the success and failure of an enterprise. While some people are naturally good at leading others, business leadership is largely learnt. The good thing is that anyone can learn and be good at it.