Leadership is a complex and multifaceted skill that requires a range of qualities and abilities. Many people want to lead but only a few are fit to lead. Even fewer lead excellently. In business, the leader is in charge of keeping everything working smoothly. The leader ensures resources are being spent effectively. They always give attention to employee concerns and promptly address them.
When the business suffers a setback or conflict strikes within the company, it is the leaders who direct the recovery process and mediate between belligerent parties. If you’re a business owner, then you’re a business leader whether you like it or not. And you’d want to be a good leader if you want your enterprise to survive and thrive.
Here are the steps you can take to lead better.
1. Think of “We” instead of “I”
You are a leader, not a dictator. Instead of thinking of yourself as separate from the rest of your team, you need to start thinking as a part of it. Someone who plays a critical role. As a leader, your function in a team is to guide everyone and do everything alongside them. The decisions you make aren’t decisions you make for yourself, but decisions you make for the entire team.
When you need to act, you don’t say “I will do this.” Instead, you say “We will do this.” By adopting this mindset, you start considering the concerns and welfare of everyone in your organization. You encourage them to share their thoughts and even if they don’t, you still think of how your decisions affect them. In business, this means decision-making is no longer solely focused on the company’s bottom line.
Prioritizing revenue might seem the best practice, but it is not sustainable and it will hurt your business down the road. In summary, when you think of “We” instead of “I”, you become more aware of how your decisions and actions affect the entire company. It puts you in a better position to build a stronger organizational culture and become a better leader as a whole.
2. Listen attentively to others
A good leader is a good listener. You can’t take into consideration your people if you fail to listen to their concerns. If you want to become a better listener, you need to start doing the following:
- Show interest and concern: Talking to your employees is one thing, showing interest and concern in what they’re saying is another. If you want to encourage your team members to voice out their opinions, make sure they see your interest in what they’re saying.
- Give your undivided attention: When someone is voicing out their concerns or providing suggestions, drop whatever you’re doing and give them all your attention.
- Reiterate and clarify: If an employee reaches out to you with a problem or inquiry, repeat to them how you understood what they said. This allows them to clarify any misunderstanding at the get-go.
- Rein in emotions: Most of the time, your employees will only open up to you when an issue has already made them emotional. It is your job as a leader to address their concern with a level-headed mind. Do not encourage hearsay and loaded language in conversations.
Following these practices empowers upward communication and improves manager engagement.
3. Encourage inclusivity
Another important job of a leader is to make sure no one in their team is being left behind. Inclusivity should start from your recruitment team. Make sure your company is not discriminating against minorities or any marginalized groups when recruiting talent. Many leaders make the mistake of believing that saying “we are all equal here” is enough to make everyone included.
Real inclusivity means providing equal opportunities for everyone despite their disabilities, ethnicity, or past criminal record. For instance, many ex-convicts believe that they have grown and learned while in prison. Many people who have spent time in jail have truly reformed themselves while inside. To make them feel included, make sure you show recognition of their efforts to make themselves better instead of exhibiting distrust.
4. Lead by example
Practice what you preach. If you want your team to start doing things the way you want or take on a particular attitude at work, you need to do it first. Do you want your employees to be punctual? Then never be late for work. Do you want them to be honest about their mistakes? Then admit your own mistakes. As a leader, you are a beacon for your people. They look up to you and will tend to imitate how you think and act. Therefore, you must be a good example. Doing this can simply mean showing your team how it’s done. For instance, a leader of the IT team should always show proper cable management, regardless if they’re working on their own machine or not.
5. Protect your organization
You are not only a beacon, you are also a shield. When things go wrong for your business, you should be at the front lines instead of at the back. More importantly, you should always be making sure that things don’t go wrong. To be a good leader, you must always be on the lookout for things that may threaten your organization. And you always need to be ready to defend against them. In a business, this can mean investing in cybersecurity and securing your employee and organization’s data.
There’s a reason being a leader comes with prestige – it is not easy to be one. You need to be good at a lot of things and you must be masterful in guidance. Start thinking as a member of a team instead of as an individual; listen closely to what your people say; make sure everyone feels included; be a good example; and be the first to protect your organization.