Being a leader can be lonely. It can also be stressful and frustrating. Coming up in the ranks, you’ve probably witnessed poor leadership. Bosses that constantly complain or yell at staffers drag their team down rather than lifting them up. Managers who “delegate” the unpleasant tasks while retaining all the glory are no prize either.
Look around. Does your team seem disinterested? Are their results not what you’d like? Well ask yourself, when was the last time one of them criticized an idea you suggested? How long has it been since you had a non-work related conversation with one of them?
All of these can indicate that you’re not connecting with your team –– let alone inspiring them. That’s too bad. Ineffective leaders can drag down a company’s performance. In one study, the stock prices of companies viewed as well-led grew 900% over a decade’s time. The ones seen as poorly led? They grew a mere 74%.
Even worse for you, poor leaders have a limited lifespan. As many as half of all new leaders fail within 18 months of getting the position –– often because they were devoted to old habits which didn’t work in their new environment. If you want to turn things around, here’s how to be more effective as a leader.
Practice What You Preach
Think about the great explorers. They didn’t dispatch teams into uncharted territory while kicking back at base camp. They led. Many died in the process. Chances are your company entered its own uncharted territory last year. The COVID-19 pandemic altered the way business is conducted –– perhaps irrevocably. Maybe you’re dealing with new corporate directives or changes in how your department operates. Although making the shift is challenging, remember the staff is looking to see how you handle it. If you are upbeat and positive, you’ll ease the transition. Don’t just tell them what to do, show them. Leaders have to lead by example. If your staffers see you embrace change, they will be more likely to do so as well.
You can also lead by demonstrating effective work habits. Stop multitasking. Keep an organized list. And take regular breaks. Showing staffers how to be overworked and miserable isn’t that great of a lesson. You should also not only have a clear vision for the company’s direction but be able to communicate it as well
Leaders listen. It seems counterintuitive. That may be because for some reason many of us think of military commanders or even dictators when we think about leadership. You’re not Patton. If you’re wondering how to be more effective as a leader, it helps to know something about the team you’re leading. That means listening. There’s a reason our mouths easily close while our ears remain open. The best way to gain new information is by letting others speak.
Become an active listener. Make eye contact. Don’t interrupt or be quick to impose your opinion. Be curious, not judgmental. Ask questions that paraphrase what the speaker has said. Don’t spend the conversation thinking of what you want to say. Don’t dismiss their concerns or their suggestions either. Think about it. Right now, a few of your staffers have thought of ways to solve a problem you’re struggling with. One of them could have the perfect solution. You’ll never know if you don’t listen.
Besides, getting to know your staffers can prepare you for non-work issues. Although you don’t want to be intrusive, be open to hearing about their lives away from the office. If they’re dealing with a family concern, for example, you may be able to help with a more flexible schedule. Sometimes talented staffers quit for reasons that have less to do with the job than the hours or other pain points. Communicating may help you retain staffers who might otherwise leave.
Lead Others Into Leading
There’s a reason assistants to winning coaches go on to lead Super Bowl champs and second-in-commands become CEOS. Identifying potential leaders and effectively mentoring them may not be in your job description but it’s an important component of your career. How do you think your bosses will feel if you consistently deliver well-trained managers? How helpful will it be down the road if someone you mentored becomes a leader at your supplier or even runs a company where you want to work?
Effective leadership doesn’t just benefit businesses and staffers. It benefits the leaders themselves who are able to safely delegate duties and reduce their own stress. Start leading today!
Ready to discover your career purpose? Click HERE for a FREE course to discover your most authentic career!