Newsletter 278 - School Leadership Development - Become a Better Leader - PART 2
10 Ways to Become a Better Leader
By Skye Schooley, Staff August 26, 2019 (Internet)
“The leader as an individual - who wants to be a leader, and what does it take?”
A recent study by the Center for Creative Leadership showed that roughly 38% to more than half of new leaders fail within their first 18 months. Leaders can avoid becoming part of this staggering statistic by incorporating good leadership strategies that motivate their team members to accomplish their goals.
We spoke with CEOs, directors and leadership experts to learn what those leadership strategies are and how you can incorporate them.
1. Engage in honest, open communication.
One of the most important elements of effective leadership is creating an open line of communication with your team members said Sanjay Patoliya (Teclogiq)
Displaying active communication skills and transparency can build trust among your team and improve overall morale.
2. Connect with your team members.
Leading a group of people requires a mutual sense of trust and understanding between the leader and their team members. To achieve this, leaders should learn to connect.
3. Encourage personal and professional growth.
Acting as your team's cheerleader is an important part of being an effective leader. You should be invested in their success and growth.
4. Keep a positive attitude.
As much as leaders wish their team's day-to-day operations could run smoothly all the time, they're bound to run into the occasional obstacle. Whether it's a minor miscommunication or a major error, the way you handle a negative situation says a lot about your leadership skills.
In his research, Mann has found that after individuals point out things they're happy with in a problematic situation, they don't feel so strongly about the problem and are better able to think clearly and solve it. The same is true when a leader needs to improve their strategy. If you or a team member notices a particular course of action you've taken that just isn't working, figure out some things you've done in the past that have worked.
Patoliya added that focusing on solutions, rather than problems, can help your team maintain positive engagement. "A positive environment is more likely to create a more engaged and productive workforce. By displaying enthusiasm and confidence, a good leader will see the impact that they can have in their working environment."
5. Teach employees instead of giving orders.
An effective leader knows how to show others what is required, rather than simply telling them.
As opposed to simply barking orders at team members, Rampton said that good leaders should encourage growth by teaching. "People wouldn't grow if leaders never taught them anything. Leaders need to be teaching so they can grow new leaders to take their place."
6. Set clear employee goals and expectations.
Setting clear goals and employee expectations for your team is key to employee success. When setting these objectives, encourage employee questions and feedback. Including them in the process can increase engagement.
Don't let team member goals go static. Periodically revisit goals to modify or rearrange them as needed. This will let your team members know that you are present and aware of what they are working on.
7. Give direct feedback about performance.
Taso Du Val, CEO and founder of the Toptal freelance talent network, said direct, honest feedback – even if it's criticism – is the best way to guide your team in the right direction. You also need to know exactly where your business is headed so you can give them the right advice.
"Positive recognition will create an environment of productivity," said Shah. "Acknowledging successes by outlining how it impacts the business, rather than with vague pats on the back, is not only encouraging but also helps a person work better in the long run."
8. Ask for feedback on your leadership.
Your team members aren't the only ones who can benefit from honest feedback. A true self-assessment of your leadership can be difficult, so mentors, fellow professionals and even your own staff are invaluable in evaluating your effectiveness. According to St. Marie, talking to friends and peers can give you necessary perspective on your leadership style and approach.
Leadership coaching can also help you discover areas where you need improvement. A professional who helps you develop a plan to achieve your leadership goals can be more motivational than books and seminars alone.
"Coaching allows leaders to make the connection and apply [changes] in a real-life setting," Iorio said. "You need time to integrate, process and reflect, and unless you go through those steps, you won't have sustainable change."
Fazlyev agreed, noting that your team can give you critical insight into what's working, what's not working and what obstructions you must overcome to achieve success.
9. Be open to new ideas.
Good leaders have the emotional intelligence to understand and accept that change is inevitable. Instead of trying to maintain a status quo just for the sake of consistency, embrace change and innovation. Be open to new ideas and alternative ways of thinking. Everyone brings a unique perspective to the table, and that is something to take advantage of, not discourage.
"When you're open to hearing the thoughts of the talent around you is when you truly embrace every possibility and potential," said Shah. "See things through till the end. Understand that there will be errors along the way, but if something doesn't work, try to figure out why and how before scrapping it."
When solving a problem, encourage team members to provide their insights. When employees feel like they can openly bring new ideas to the table, true innovation, engagement and success can prevail.
10. Understand your own motivation.
If a person in a leadership position views their role as "just a job," it's going to show. To be an effective leader, you need the right motivation. Is it the money or the prestige you care about, or do you sincerely want to inspire people to do their best?
St. Marie advised leaders to really ask themselves why they want to lead. "I look at leadership as an honor and a vocation. If, in your heart, you feel leadership is your destiny and how you'll make a difference in this world, then you are certainly starting from the right place."
In addition to what motivates you, Ohlrich said it is important to know what decreases your energy. "Knowing your strengths and weaknesses help you diversify your team and get a well-rounded portfolio of skills. It helps you not hire carbon copies of yourself and surround yourself with others who are not like you."
Your leadership style plays a role in how you interact with employees and should be evaluated as well. There are six different leadership styles, and the best leaders are able to adapt each style to their situations and employees. If you are currently in a leadership role and aren't sure where you stand on some of these qualities, you can take a quick leadership self-assessment quiz from the Leading With Courage Academy to assess your leadership abilities.
Remember that being a good leader takes time. Although some individuals are naturally inclined to have good leadership skills, it is something anyone can learn and improve upon. With hard work, dedication and strategic planning, you can lead your team to success.