The higher you climb within the ranks of your company, the more responsibility you have. The more responsibility you have, the more important it is to delegate tasks. If you want to increase the likelihood that the tasks you delegate will be completed effectively, you’ve got to hire strong employees. Even more important, though, you’ve got to be an effective leader. Here are six tips to improve your leadership skills.
1. Delegate but also participate
In the words of renowned military aviator E.M. Kelly, “The difference between a boss and a leader is that a boss says, ‘Go!’ and a leader says, ‘Let’s go!’” If you want to command respect and earn loyalty, get in the trenches with your team on occasion. Demonstrate that you’re not just the head of the team, you are also a contributing member of the team. When you do as you instruct, you’ll also be combating the us vs. them mentality that causes strife in the workplace.
2. Never let them see you sweat
Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. The true test of a captain is how he performs when the seas are raging. Effective leaders stay even-tempered and positive even under the most chaotic circumstances. Remain calm, cool, and collected when everyone else is panicking so you’ll serve as a strong, calming influence.
3. Remember that not all opposing viewpoints come from people who oppose you.
One of the most valuable lessons an effective leader can master is the art of respecting and learning from employee pushback. Every organization is comprised of individuals with different attitudes, perspectives, and personalities. When you truly listen to feedback, especially feedback that’s critical, you’ll have an opportunity to improve your organization for your employees, which translates into a better experience for your customers. Listening to and trying to understand different points of view makes you a stronger leader and is an excellent opportunity to strengthen your company.
4. Remember the two little words that make a big difference.
“Thank you.” Saying thank you takes just a few seconds. Coming from the boss, those little words can have a huge impact. Saying thank you to those who are doing a good job or who have gone the extra mile shows that you’re not insulated from the rest of your team and oblivious of what’s going on. It shows that you notice, you appreciate, and you give credit where credit is due. That’s a huge motivator and morale booster!
5. Wear your passion on your sleeve.
If you’re the leader and you’re not passionate about your company’s mission, products, or services, you can’t expect your employees to be. A leader’s attitude is contagious. Are you cranky, negative, and stressed out? Or are you upbeat, excited, optimistic, and inspirational? When you are enthusiastic (authentically enthusiastic) about where you’re trying to lead your team, they will be excited to follow!
6. Cultivate a company culture that encourages and rewards creativity.
If you want your employees to be more invested in their jobs, encourage them to think outside the box and share their ideas. When you keep the workplace fresh by trying things a different way or experimenting with new processes or procedures, you’re keeping your team engaged and giving them opportunities to shine on an individual level. You know how great it feels to be in the spotlight. Look for opportunities to share that feeling with your employees.
While it may sometimes feel lonely at the top, you and your employees are on the same team. Continuing to look for ways to improve your leadership skills is probably the single most effective way you can become a better leader.