7 essential practices to becoming a better leader

Self-Evaluate and Regulate Your Leadership Skills

What do Mary Barra, Warren Buffett, and Tim Cook have in common?

Along with Oprah Winfrey, Jay Z, and Arianna Huffington, they’ve made the list more than once as some of the world’s most successful and influential corporate leaders.

Yet, being an efficient, effective, mobilizing, and inspiring leader is not given to all. A leader does much more than simply delegating tasks and keeping a watchful eye on team members and their workload. 

Here are seven essential practices great leaders share to help you assess and perfect your leadership skills.

1. They Lead by Example

It’s just as true in the corporate world as it is in our personal lives. How can we expect others to give their all when failing to rise to the challenge ourselves? Great leaders are passionate about showing up for work and do as expected to do.”

To encourage positive results, great leaders focus on strengths, rather than dwell on weaknesses, and are determined to improve problem areas. A team that lacks a strong and confident leader can easily crumble.

Great leaders expect of others the same sense of loyalty as they showcase daily through their actions and, therefore, become true examples to follow.

2. They Work Hand in Hand with Their Team

While leadership roles require delegation and team supervision, great leaders know to work with team members rather than above them.

Treating employees as equals builds a stronger bond, therefore helping to reinforce company morale. Working hand in hand with employees helps leaders acquire resourceful input and knowledge in regard to their team members’ strengths and weaknesses.

This leads to better delegating tasks to appropriate resources, which in turn improves team performance and efficiency. By working alongside their employees, managers are able to further customize their management approach on a one-on-one basis, and are consequently able to become better leaders.

3. They Advocate for Their Team

Great leaders are accountable for their team’s work and measure their own success by the performance of their weakest link.

It’s their job to keep their team members motivated and focused on objectives in order to encourage passion, collaboration, and results. Instead of circling out or firing their weakest link, they work with them and their teammates to improve their work and strengthen the overall results.

This might entail lateral shifts, organizational changes, or specific teamwork projects to better suit the strengths of all talents involved.

4. They Give Feedback

Great leaders know to give credit where it’s owed and express gratitude to employees when deserved.

Building a healthy culture of ongoing feedback is the key to moving away from outdated performance review settings and to helping teammates develop their skill set. Well-constructed employee feedback reinforces good practices and acknowledges an employee’s contributions to the organization while highlighting areas where improvement could be beneficial to all.

Constructive feedback given in impromptu moments, rather than simply during formal performance reviews, should be specific and thoughtful. Here are a few examples:

  • Something I particularly appreciate about you is your ability to solve problems in a proactive manner.”
  •  I think you did a great job at the client presentation today. I find your communication skills were most effective at getting our message across.”
  •  In future, I would love to see you be more diligent in anticipating plausible comments when presenting to clients, so they can rest assured we’ve looked at the problem from every angle.” 

 5. They Have Strong Human Relation Skills

The corporate world is one focused on business performance, corporate profitability, and market growth. It’s also a world run by human beings with human hearts filled with hopes, desires, and aspirations.

Therefore, a leader’s emotional intelligence is a key factor in relation to their leadership strength. Great leaders know they’re dealing with human beings and therefore treat team members as such. They are caring, approachable, respectful, empathetic, and authentic.

This creates a healthy work environment in which open communication is encouraged, strong ties are made, and synergy is created. The end result? Business performance, corporate profitability, and market growth!

6. They Are Clear Communicators

It is simply not possible to become a great leader without being a great communicator.

As a manager, how would you rate your communication skills? Here are 10 principles great leaders follow when communicating with others.

  •  Never speak with a forked tongue: Trust is crucial and a leader’s reputation is based on character and integrity. Foul talk is simply never worth the risk.
  • Get personal. Think dialogue, not monologue.
  •  Be specific. Make your words count and avoid ambiguity.
  •  Focus on the leave-behinds, not the take-aways. Focusing on the other party’s wants, needs, and desires will lead to a better understanding as opposed to simply focusing on your own agenda.
  •  Have an open mind. Open dialogues with those who confront you challenge you and make you grow.
  •  LISTEN! Know when to dial it up and when to dial it down or simply dial it off.
  •  Replace ego with empathy. Speak with candour and transparency.
  •  Read between the lines. Keep your eyes and ears open and you’ll be amazed at how your level of organizational awareness is raised.
  •  When speaking, know what you’re talking about. Don’t fall prey to being a smooth talker who leaves others with the impression of form over substance.
  •  Speak to groups as individuals. Establishing credibility, trust, and rapport are the key to successful group interactions.

7. They Mentor Promising Leaders

Great leaders recognize talents amongst their team members, coach future leaders, and propel them towards new challenges.

They feel pride in the deserving successes of their mentees and never hold them back from reaching new heights, due to envy, selfishness, or spite.  


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