Guest blog by Martin Haworth
Business Coach and Management Trainer
Whether you lead a major corporation of thousands, you lead a small sales team in a store, or you’re a business owner, you are a leader in the eyes of your people.
Indeed, it’s a strong organizational argument these days that everyone in a team should exhibit leadership skills, so appreciating good leadership skills through a team can add significant value — to everyone. Here are five key ways you can better your leadership skills. Because, after all, as a leader, your people will follow your way, so you need to lead by example.
1. Include others. The best leaders appreciate that alone, they are not going to be able to maximize the value of their enterprise — they need others. One person’s ability to make all the right decisions, to have all the best ideas, or to be the only bright spark on the team, is simply crazy.
Good, effective and smart leadership is all about bringing the right team members together, hearing what they say, appreciating their value, and, above all, being inclusive of anyone and everyone who has the courage to input their thinking.
2. Build relationships. Relationship-building by the best leaders, however elevated they are, sets them apart from the nearly-men in the leadership world. Ask any employee anywhere about the best leaders they’ve worked for, and they will always speak glowingly about the individual.
That comes from relationships the leader created with their people, by taking time to value people whenever the opportunity arose, by putting people first.
3. Embrace uncomfortable companions. As soon as leaders know that their teams feel comfortable with them, they need to be accepting of what might not be very comfortable.
By appreciating the value of feeling uncomfortable when challenged, the best leaders ponder, make personal changes, and improve their performance. Whilst feeling uncomfortable is a great step forward, actively seeking and being accepting of feedback is of even greater value.
Asking yourself, “What went well?,” and then, “What could I have done to be even better?,” is a great first step. Sharing with a colleague or two and then asking them to do the same job for you is the next added value.
And to top off receiving feedback? Don’t argue with it. Don’t make excuses. Accept it with good grace — thank those giving it, and encourage them to help you in the best way they can. Make some changes.
4. Focus on strengths. Traditional performance guidance would imply that individuals need to improve performance in those areas where they are not doing so well. Yet, this is possibly the most unproductive way to use people. It’s far more effective and profitable to encourage individuals to leverage what they are good at and create coping strategies for those areas of work they are less effective in.
By leading others to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses, team members will deliver more and be more motivated, as well.
5. Be humble. The best leaders get a lot closer to their teams by being as similar to them as it’s possible to be, without crossing the line that exists between them in the roles they hold. So, by being a leader who exhibits some humility towards those they lead, you will gain much more respect from them, and they will respect you more, too.
Leaders can’t rest when they reach the top or own their own businesses. They, above all, need to be proactive in reviewing and refining their skills every step of the way.
Check back tomorrow for five more ways to hone your leadership skills.
Martin Haworth is a UK-based ICF accredited coach and management trainer. He works worldwide with clients face-to-face, as well as by phone. You can find out more about him and his work at http://www.CoachTrainLearn.com.