The Do’s and Don’ts of Being a Great Leader
Good leadership is an essential component of any successful business. According to SBA, all businesses will experience critical moments in which the actions of leaders and managers make the difference between success and failure.
If you’re a newly appointed manager or someone looking to sharpen your leadership skills, we provide helpful tips that can help you grow and develop into a successful leader.
The Do’s of Leadership
As with most business practices, leadership is a learned art. While you should never assume you have acquired all the skills needed to be an effective leader, some universal concepts can help you navigate even the trickiest of situations. Here are some helpful tips for you to start in the right direction.
Be an Example
Leadership is all about setting an example through your actions and behaviors. This doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect, but you must be consistent in showing integrity, dependability, good judgment, and respect for others. For example, you can’t ask your members to be punctual if you are consistently late for work.
As a leader, you will be creating standards to which others will be held. Ensure that your personal conduct is above reproach. Be on time, be prepared for meetings and projects, and give it your all. Your efforts will earn your team’s respect and they will be more willing to follow your lead.
Leadership can sometimes seem like a daunting challenge, but it all boils down to knowing the appropriate way to behave and communicate with your team members. Remember that communication is vital to good productivity and must be clear, concise, and understandable. If you’re a good communicator, you’ll be able to lead others by example — rather than barking orders like a drill sergeant.
Good leaders know how to ask questions, listen carefully, and give feedback so they can get what they need from others to do their jobs well. No matter how excellent your business model is, if you don’t communicate effectively with your employees, it won’t work.
Take Thoughtful Risks
Leaders make things happen. They know where they want to take their team and demonstrate the ability to get there by taking calculated risks. Take Warren Buffet, for example, he wouldn’t have reached success if he hadn’t been confident enough to take risks. After all, you will never know if a concept will work if you don’t implement it.
There are opportunities everywhere, but if you don’t take risks you’ll never be able to fully take advantage of them. That said, you should create your own unique experiences by taking calculated risks that challenge your perspective, expand your thinking, and make you feel vulnerable — so you can mature and learn throughout the process.
Be a Motivator
Continuous motivation can be hard to maintain, but it is a profound part of management. For your employees to remain goal-oriented and focused, you must make a conscious effort to keep them motivated. When used properly, motivation can inspire your team to work harder, be better, and achieve more than they thought was possible.
There are many ways to motivate people, but you should understand what motivates each person on your team and use it as a guide for interaction. For example, if one of your team members is motivated by recognition, then make sure that you intentionally give them positive feedback and praise. You can also try using different tactics, such as offering rewards for good behavior or providing incentives for performance-related issues.
Be Clear About Your Expectations
As the leader, ensure that everyone understands what you expect of them at all times. If someone isn’t performing up to par, don’t let it go on for too long before raising the issue with them. The same thing when a member isn’t meeting deadlines or falling short of their responsibilities. Don’t let it happen again before addressing the issue. It may be easy to assume that they are slacking off or losing interest in their work, but it may just be an honest misunderstanding of expectations.
When an employee knows exactly what they’re supposed to be doing, they’ll be able to take ownership of their work. Moreover, they feel more confident in their ability to get things done on time — which means less stress for you and the team.
The Don’ts of Leadership
To prevent yourself from becoming an ineffective leader, take some time to understand and hopefully avoid these poor practices.
Both you and your employees are valuable to the organization’s success. Having respect for one another is essential to keeping your valued employees around. Your requirements and needs may be different from theirs, but everyone’s opinion should be heard to establish a better working relationship for the team. With this, you will increase employee retention and create a culture of success.
A good example would be humility. Being humble means you understand that everyone has something valuable to offer and you can learn from each other. By keeping this in mind and treating everyone with respect, you’ll be able to create an environment where your team feels safe working together towards shared goals.
Favoritism is a common problem in the workplace and can lead to low morale, decreased productivity, and employee turnover. For example, if one employee is given more opportunities than other employees because they are friends with the manager, it can create a feeling of resentment — which may lead to decreased productivity.
When a leader favors one employee over another, it can create a toxic environment that makes team members feel uncomfortable and underappreciated. In addition, favoritism can lead to poor decision-making, as the leader may be swayed by personal relationships rather than objective information.
Taking Credit for a Team’s Success
Team-oriented behavior, such as acknowledging others’ contributions to a project, is a sign of good leadership. If your team does well, resist taking credit and give credit to the individuals that played a role in it. It will ultimately encourage them to work even harder to see future successes. Plus, you’ll earn the admiration and respect of your peers for your humility.
Perfectionism is a common trait among leaders, but it can be damaging to your team. As a leader, you want to be able to set high standards for yourself and your team members. While it is true that perfectionism can help you accomplish your goals by making sure every detail is covered, it can also prevent you from making decisions and taking action in the first place. Instead of wanting to do well, you’re afraid of making mistakes or looking bad.
Even the best leaders make mistakes. Instead of focusing on being perfect, focus on learning from your mistake so you don’t repeat the same one in the future. This allows you to keep pushing forward and achieve success despite the occasional error along the way.
Gossiping is a nasty habit that can drag down even the best of leaders. When a leader gets caught up in gossip, it will only lead to gratuitous problems. Even if it seems harmless, gossiping is an unacceptable trait in the business setting. It isn’t conducive to a work atmosphere based on respect, trust, and professional behavior.
Gossiping about fellow employees is unprofessional. If an employee is always late on deadlines, for example, address the issue directly and find ways to resolve it. Gossiping only shows that you’re an ineffective leader.
Being a great leader is hard work. It requires a lot of effort, dedication, and self-reflection to understand what makes you tick. We encourage you to keep these principles in mind, and you’ll improve your leadership skills. Above all, motivate your team, and help them succeed to advance yourself as well.
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