“Leaders aren’t born; they’re made. And they’re made just like anything else: through hard work.” So says the old maxim by American football coach Vince Lombardi. Leaders in business roles are no exception.
Every team needs an organized and authoritative source to oversee the overall success of the group. Without an experienced figure to lead the charge, projects and collaboration are prone to falling into disarray, delay, and eventual abandonment. A good leader keeps the entire team pushing in the same direction towards a common goal while maintaining the company’s best interests.
But today’s business leader looks different than yesterday’s. With much of the workforce working remotely now, companies are expecting more autonomy when it comes to employee management. Now with more freedom, workers don’t need an office manager hovering over their every action—nor do they appreciate it. A report from 2018 suggests that management in the modern era is better defined as a coaching position, building up and encouraging employees without taking away their senses of responsibility and accountability. The pandemic has only continued to reinforce this idea.
All in all, leadership roles are not for the weak. But as Mr. Lombardi points out, leadership is an acquired skill, sharpened and honed by discipline and effort. Wondering how to be a good leader for your business in 2022? Here are 4 tips to consider.
1. Understand Your Leadership Style
Everyone is inclined to take on leadership opportunities with different approaches. Whether you are an active listener to your team’s input or silently take care of behind-the-scenes processes so your team can focus on their tasks, each leadership style carries pros and cons to its execution.
If you’re serious about becoming the best leader you can be for your business, consider taking an updated leadership style quiz to discover your leadership practices. A Democratic Leader, for example, naturally relies on group input when making big decisions but reserves the right to reach a final verdict themselves. A Laissez-Faire (or delegative) leader, on the other hand, provides minimal direction to allow for the most freedom within the team. However, these leadership styles aren’t without their drawbacks: Democratic leadership can be ineffective when group roles are unclear or snappy work needs to be done, and Laissez-Faire leaders often don’t teach team members who are less experienced at their work.
Remember that a leader is still a human being with plenty of flaws to improve upon. Learning and understanding your shortcomings will allow you to grow into a stronger and more effective role model for your team.
2. Encourage Professional Growth
No one likes a dead-end career, so why create one for someone else? Employees who feel like they are stuck and have learned everything there is to their position have difficulty remaining motivated and effective at their job. Especially amongst younger workers, people prefer to view their work as a journey continually taking them to a new, more exciting destination up ahead. When they meet a brick wall instead, they start considering other opportunities. That’s probably why 87% of millennials hold career growth as one of the most important factors of a job.
As a business leader, it is your job to foster a work environment that is consistently promoting the professional development of every team member. If an employee is interested in trying a new role, allow them the flexibility they need. If someone feels unchallenged by their work, assign new responsibilities accompanied with better rewards. If a team member is struggling with a certain task, listen to their troubles and allow for additional training time. Good business leadership is all about being adaptable to the needs of your team, and encouraging them to always improve will not only result in a happier, more motivated crew; it will also create a productive team bonded together by a common goal.
Uninspired employees are ineffective employees. As a leader, you are the primary source of inspiration to keep the team evolving into a better professional force every single day. Make sure to embody the goals of your company by caring for the diligent people behind them!
3. Stay Involved and Connected
Involvement is one of the biggest inspiring factors amongst good leaders. After all, who sounds like a more compelling role model to follow: the person barking orders behind a desk, or the person working alongside the team on the ground floor? The former is a boss. The latter is a leader.
Transparency is the key to demonstrating your engagement to your team. When employees see their boss tackling the same hurdles they experience, they develop trust. And when that same boss is honest about the business and remains approachable during business hours, employees develop loyalty. Loyal team members feel like they are on the same page as their leader in terms of the project at hand, and thus are more comfortable receiving and carrying out orders.
The underlying foundations of employee trust, however, are the deep relationships with the staff. As a leader, take the time to learn about your team members individually and use work experiences to grow comradery amongst the group. When difficult deadlines approach or the staff takes on heavy workloads, employees are more likely to stick together and look to you for advice when they can count on the positive work culture you’ve sown. That’s why company events—such as potlucks, parties, and contests—are particularly powerful for the morale of the staff. Don’t undervalue the potency of strong boss-employee relationships.
Need more evidence of the benefits deep employee relationships can garner? According to a long-term study by Forbes, revenue across 20 firms saw nearly a 7X increase under performance-enhanced work cultures. The potential is staggering, to say the least.
4. Seek Advice from Other Leaders
Leadership can sometimes feel like a juggling act; if one element slips, there’s a good chance the rest will follow. Between team management and all the responsibilities that come with forging a business, the strain can feel overwhelming at times.
Thankfully, you never need to go alone. If you’re confronted with a situation that is puzzling or entirely unfamiliar and don’t know how to approach it, reach out to other business leaders who have experience. Iron sharpens iron—good leaders learn from other good leaders.
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