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The Best Tips on How To Be a Better Leader

how to be a better leader

Photo Credit: Mix Tape/Shutterstock

Being a good leader is about far more than just having a leadership position in a company. It's about guiding a team of diverse people toward collective and individual growth in terms of business outcomes as well as personal development.

Good leadership is also about doing the work side by side with the rest of the team, which, in turn, motivates the team to be happier and more productive. If all of this sounds impossible to achieve, here's the good news: You can learn to become a great leader over time.

No, I'm not saying I have cracked the code, but I have realized all everyone needs is a willingness to keep growing and a genuine desire to be the best possible guide for the team. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

Get to Know Your Employees and What They Want

Your team consists of a variety of people, each of whom has their strengths, areas of improvement, wants, and expectations.

To lead them effectively, it is important to understand what makes each of them tick, which can only happen when you invest time with your team and have conversations with them. Better yet, ask them directly about the kind of leadership style they respond well to.

Would they like daily check-ins from you, or would they prefer a more hands-off approach? Then, do your best to oblige. Place the ball in their court. This helps them be more productive and also boosts goodwill. Plus, it makes your job easier.

Try to Be Forthcoming With Your Team

One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is neglecting to have open conversations with their team. It’s important to be honest with them about what's happening, even if it isn't necessarily positive news. If there's a restructuring in the works or if a new collaboration opportunity is coming up, your team will benefit from knowing soon after you do. Don't keep them in the dark unless it's imperative for you.

Listen to Your Team's Suggestions

This may sound like a no-brainer, but listening to what your team has to say is vital to good leadership.Make sure they know they can present their suggestions at any time, whether during a team meeting or afterward in a one-on-one session with you.

Whether they desire longer breaks during the festive season or to use a specific tool, be sure to follow up on the suggestions you like. This will show that you take your team's ideas seriously and will encourage them to continue sharing their thoughts with you.

Compliment Your Team Whenever You Have the Chance

Compliments and words of praise are necessary forms of employee motivation, often even more than monetary rewards. Be quick to praise your team members—individually and collectively — for a job well done, whether that's a big project coming through or consistently showing up every day to complete something critical.

Praise doesn't have to be only in the context of project work. If you notice someone filling in for a sick colleague or reporting early every day or keeping their workspace incredibly tidy, point it out and say a few appreciative words. Your team will value you for it.

It's Okay to Be Friends With the People You Work With

Ditch the myth that bosses need to be bosses all the time. A healthy camaraderie will foster stronger feelings of loyalty toward you, which means the team will want to keep putting in their best work.

If your team lives in the same city as you, have post-work drinks and dinners where you mingle together as a group. Find interests you have in common with your team members and engage them in conversation. You can even organize weekend outings where you all go bowling or hiking together.

If you and your team work remotely, host informal catchups on Zoom or Skype during break hours. You don't always have to talk about work when you meet them online. Make your favorite beverage, or share a fun hobby and ask others to do the same. It's a great way to bond with your team and get to know them better.

Lead by Example

Perhaps the most essential part of being a good leader is demonstrating the behaviors you want to see in the rest of your team. Do you have a 9 a.m. clock-in time? Be online by 8:55 a.m.

Do you need the team to work weekends on a critical project? Pick up some of their workload and order meals for everyone, if possible. Do you want to discuss a project that didn't go as well as expected? Be the first to point out your errors and how you plan to do better next time.

When your team looks at you, they should see a role model, not a dictator. Hold yourself to the high standards you expect from your team, and you'll see them reach those and beyond under your influence.

With everything the entire world has gone through, the least we can do is be more empathetic toward each other. Becoming the best leader you can be begins with empathy.

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