You’ve been moving up the ladder at work and now you’ve found yourself in a leadership role. You’re beyond excited, but also nervous. A lot goes into leading a team, so how can you be the best leader possible? There are simple ways to be a better leader at work that you can begin practicing as soon as possible if you want to truly excel at the task. You might assume leading a team of employees is simply about assigning tasks and expecting those tasks will get completed, but as we’ll see in this article, there’s a lot more that goes into it.
As many of us know to be true, just because you’re good at the career you are working in doesn't necessarily mean you’ll be great at managing others. Management is a skill all its own, and beyond being able to divvy out work, there are many aspects of leading that can have you seen as a strong leader versus a weak one. Leading successfully comes down to things ranging from how you treat your employees to how you personally handle problems and issues that present themselves throughout the day. When you consider it, there are so many poor leaders out there — so let’s help prevent you from being one of them. Stop and think about this: Are you willing to go that extra step to polish your leadership skills? Then, let’s get to it. Here are 13 simple ways to be a better leader at work.
1. Be An Example To Those Around You
If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “lead by example,” this is exactly what I'm talking about here. According to Entrepreneur, instead of simply telling your employees what you’d like them to do and how you’d like them to act on the job, it’s important to also show them by performing in such ways on your own, too. So, for instance, the outlet noted an example that if you want your employees to be at work on time, show them you take this seriously by showing up on time every day as well.
2. Admit When You Aren’t Sure
No matter who we are, how long we’ve been in a certain career, or how much education we have under our belt, there’s just no way we’ll know everything at every given moment. It’s OK to admit when you aren’t sure about something, especially if you want to be a great leader. Of course, you want your employees to see you know a lot and are qualified to be where you are, but you don’t have to hide from mistakes you’ve made or questions you simply don’t know the answers to. According to Inc., this will be helpful as it’ll show your employees that you — too — are human, and that you’re capable of correcting mistakes and finding answers for your team, as needed.
3. Get A Mentor
CIO.com spoke to Bryan Kirschner, director of Apigee Institute, who spoke about ways to become a better leader and noted, “On context, you want to understand what it means to be an executive in your company-say by seeking out a mentor.” This mentor can help you even further brush up your management skills and can serve as a person to bounce ideas and problems off of to grow your knowledge and skill set tremendously.
4. Avoid Micromanaging
If you’ve ever had a leader who — no matter how much you prove yourself — doesn’t allow you to complete tasks without checking in every moment (or, possibly even taking the work back themselves), you know the frustrations of micromanaging. Now, think about the way you manage those below you. Are you doing this very same thing to them? If so, knock it off. According to Forbes, an easy way to amp up your leadership skills is by nixing the micromanaging habit and getting out of your employees’ way. Give them ownership over the work and trust that they’ll meet the goals and objectives handed to them without you there with them every step of the way. The employees will appreciate the freedom, and will likely produce excellent work knowing you have that trust in them.
5. Clearly Outline Goals & Expectations
As you slowly learn to let go of any micromanaging habits you might have, realize that a huge part of being able to give that necessary trust to your employees is making sure they clearly understand the goals and expectations involved. In a separate Forbes article, the outlet discussed some of the top qualities of a great leader and noted being candid about objectives as one of them. Use your best communication skills to explain to your team what you want done and how you want it completed. It’s often sometimes helpful to have goals and objectives written out so that your employees can refer to them along the way.
6. Be As Passionate As Possible
If you’re acting passé about your job, chances are your employees will begin acting the same way. Why should they be passionate about their role at the company if you’re not passionate about yours? CareeRealism.com suggested to be a better leader you should strive to be as passionate in your job as could be, and be certain to exude that passion around your team. Even when obstacles arise, try to stay positive and motivated, and you might just find your team reacts in the same way.
7. Take Risks
Huffington Post spoke to Jared Costanzo, president and founder of the Student Voice Project, on advice for leaders. Costanzo said, “Be ambitious and do not be afraid to take risks.” Taking risks can help you ultimately understand your own strengths and weaknesses, and can be another means of leading by example, as well.
8. Establish Trust
How can you show your employees that you trust them? As we already discussed, neglecting to micromanage them is a great first step. Additionally, Insperity.com’s expert blog suggested being certain to put yourself out there for them in the broader scheme — so to show you’ll protect them should anything happen. Another tip? Involve them in some decision-making processes to show them their opinion is valued.
9. Hire Those With Potential
During the hiring process, it’s of course vital to bring people on board that you know will be more than capable of performing the necessary responsibilities. However, Inc. suggested not overlooking candidates who have potential simply because they’re lacking in a particular skill. For instance, spend time during the interview trying to get a sense of how responsible they are or how willing they are to take risks, etc. This will help you to build a better team and, therefore, help excel you as a leader.
10. Be Accessible
Part of being a leader is being there to lead. You must be accessible to your team, according to Fast Company. Try to be available to your employees when they need you, and give them the appropriate amount of time to help them navigate issues or projects. By helping them accomplish goals, you’ll show them that 1) you truly care and 2) you’re a strong leader.
11. Be Aware Of Your Team’s Strengths & Weaknesses
If you are knowledgeable on the strengths and weaknesses of your team, you’ll be excellent as dividing up work, and therefore having a super-successful team. Try to perfect your ability to examine everyone’s skillset and assign people to work that you know they’ll accomplish in the greatest way possible, according to Huffington Post.
12. Give Them Credit Where Credit Is Due
How awesome does it feel when a supervisor acknowledges your hard work? Your employees feel the same way about when you acknowledge theirs — so be certain to do so. Jim Newman of CF Geographics LLC, told CarolRoth.com, “Make sure the powers that be know your team members by name and never pass up an opportunity to sing their praises. When your team knows that you're looking out for them, then they'll move heaven and earth to make you successful.”
13. Lead With Confidence
Last, but not least, is confidence. We know how vital confidence is in other aspects of life, but it’s important to be confident in your role as a leader, too. Of course there will be times when you’re nervous about a project and scared you’ll fail, but try to remain as confident as you can especially in front of your team, according to Forbes. When things do go wrong, acknowledge them but lead your team out of the problem by letting them know that, collectively, you’ll resolve it and move onward and upward.
Being a leader at work isn’t all big offices and interns to do coffee runs for you. There’s a whole lot more to it — and by using some of the tips we discussed here — you might find you’re working your way to being the best leader you can be.
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