While leadership qualities may be something certain individuals seem to be born with, the reality is that leadership is developed over time and through challenges — it isn’t a birthright.
Leadership is a growth strategy that you can develop, but it takes time. However, just because it takes time to become a better leader doesn’t mean you can expect change to happen without effort now. There are actions you can take today and every day hereafter to grow into that leadership role. It doesn’t just happen in a few years. You have to live it and practice it.
Here are five ways you can start being a better leader today.
As the old adage goes, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. People want to be heard and sometimes the best thing you can do is to listen. Listen to your team and to others.
This doesn’t just mean passively hearing what others are saying, but actually taking an intuitive approach to listening. What are people saying and how are they saying it? Pick up on their voice cues and physical signs to see if there’s incongruity in what they’re saying.
If you ask for honest feedback, be open to really listening and encouraging that feedback. You should make it a habit now to practice listening way more than you speak.
Everyone needs encouragement. You need it and your team needs it. As an entrepreneur, you’re putting yourself by default into a leadership role. You should practice supporting your team and fostering their growth by encouraging them to be better. Push them a little but rely on your active listening skills to pick up on when your push is becoming detrimental.
Encourage those directly in your path in all walks of your life, too. Don’t just stop at the office. Encourage strangers, vendors and friends as a practice. You’ll help grow their lives.
All ships rise with the tide. Be the ocean and the tide to use encouragement to push others further.
You won’t be a good leader until you teach others to do what you do. Don’t try to keep people in their roles or place, grow them into yours. There is an egocentric tendency, which is totally natural but at the same time unproductive, that keeps us wanting to hoard our roles and expertise. Don’t be tempted by that ego demon to hold your knowledge close to the chest.
Take the time and effort to develop others. Don’t just develop them to be like you, either. Listen to what they are really looking to do and offer them the time or resources to develop along their own path. Always share what you know and develop others. It works.
This isn’t about great quotes or good books, although those help your development, this is about actually being a source of inspiration to your team through your own consistent actions and attitude. You should be the living, breathing example of the inspiration your team needs. Lift people up through your everyday kindness, compassion, work ethic and encouragement. Be the inspiration for your team.
In an effort to be a “good” leader, many well-intentioned people don’t provide any constructive criticism or feedback for improvement when some well-placed feedback could actually develop someone on the team. You set the bar low by being overly worried about people’s feelings over their development.
It’s not about being cruel or critical, but it is about giving honest feedback for your employees to grow into better people with better skills because you pushed them in the right way and inspired them through your own example. Just remember with this one to key into your active listening skills so you can sense when you’re being helpful.