Virtually everyone in a management position wants to be a good leader. Chances are that you didn’t get in a position of authority without having at least a few good leadership qualities. Even so, there’s always room for improvement no matter how good you are. If you’re interested in becoming a better leader in 2014, check out these 14 tips to get you there:
1. Determine What Kind of Leader You Are
Just because John Smith, two buildings over, has great success with his management style doesn’t mean his style is the only one that works. Figure out how you like to lead; are you more authoritarian, participative, or delegative? If you prefer to include people in your decisions, then trying to become super authoritative probably isn’t going to work well for you or your employees.
2. Get Organized
It is impossible to be a good leader if you never know where things are and when things are supposed to happen. Organization is a skill, not a gift. That’s good news because even if you think you are the most disorganized person in the world, you can learn how to change it. It might take a little trial and error to find a system that works well for you, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
3. Encourage Those Under Your Management to Get Involved
Very few people appreciate the feeling of being dictated to. Yes, it’s true that you’re the boss and you have the final say. However, employees tend to be much more enthusiastic if they feel they’ve had some small part in what’s happening. Ask your employees for their ideas and suggestions. Your staff and their creativity can be one of your biggest assets if you’ll utilize it.
4. Show Compassion
You don’t have to rule with an iron fist in order to be taken seriously. If an employee messes up, address the situation, but don’t beat him or her up over it. Even major mistakes can be dealt with in a constructive way. Try asking the person why he or she thinks the mistake happened and then try suggesting ways to avoid similar situations in the future.
5. Discipline Expediently and Justly
Of course, if you’re dealing with a case of chronic, or careless, mishaps you’ll need to take more severe action. For instance, if an employee violates company policies or is constantly late to work, discipline might be required. Address serious situations as soon as they happen, and don’t hesitate to dole out appropriate punishments where they are needed.
6. Be What You Expect From Your Employees
You’re the boss so, like it or not, you are your employees’ role model. If you come in an hour late every morning, take two hour lunches, spend inordinate amounts of company time surfing the web or on personal calls, then you can pretty much bet that your employees will see this as perfectly acceptable behavior. Model the kind of hard work and enthusiasm that you want from your staff.
7. Stay Positive
A positive attitude can go so far even in the worst situations. What’s more, optimism is often contagious. If you stay upbeat and cheerful, those around you are also more likely to have the same attitude, which translates into better employees.
8. Recognize and Reward Exceptional Employees
Everyone likes to be told they’re doing a good job. When people constantly meet and exceed expectations, they can begin to feel undervalued or unnoticed if nothing’s ever said. Make a point to praise your employees from time to time when they’re doing well. Don’t make the only time they ever hear from you be when they’ve messed up.
9. Fess Up When You’ve Made a Mistake
We all make mistakes and having the title of manager doesn’t miraculously change that. If you’ve made a mistake that affects your employees, acknowledge it and apologize. The ability to admit when you’re wrong is one of the largest displays of strength you can show your staff.
10. Never Stop Learning
Whether it’s the company’s new computer system, emerging information within your field, or simply new techniques for settling co-worker disputes, the ability and willingness to learn is vital to a leader.
11. Motivate Others
Sometimes people have a bad day, or even a bad week. Sometimes they get stuck in a rut. Learn how to inspire people to become better. Find out what motivates each of your employees and use it.
12. Practice Active, Effective Listening
In order to be a stellar leader, you must be able to understand your employee’s questions, concerns, and grievances. Your staff is looking to you when something’s awry. Learn how to listen effectively so that you can be a true manager and problem solver when the time comes.
13. Recognize Your Weaknesses as Well as Your Strengths
You need to know what you’re not particularly good at just as much as you need to know your strengths. Once you identify your weaknesses, you can work on making them better. If that’s not possible, think of creative ways to work around them.
14. Show Passion for Your Job
If you’re passionate about what you do, those around you will likely become passionate, too. Be enthusiastic, involved and truly proud of what your company does.
By practicing some or all of these techniques, this new year could be the year that you become the leader you always wanted to be. Moreover, your employees are going to love you, which in turn can improve their productivity and efficiency — and that’s good for everyone.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia/rozeek.pk