Whether you’re a new manager or a seasoned management veteran, as your workplace evolves, your leadership acumen must as well. Part of being a good leader is the ability to adapt to change situations and be a guiding force your team can follow. It's not always easy being the one leading the charge but great leaders take the time to invest in their teams and motivates their colleagues to follow their lead. So when you want to refresh your leadership skills to ensure you're meeting the needs of your employees, where should you start?
Here are seven tips that will help make you a more effective leader.
- Lead with your heart: We aren’t suggesting that you run around the office hugging your employees (that might get you sent to HR). What we are suggesting is that you manage both parts of your employee, the professional and the human side. Do this through recognizing people's accomplishments.
- Ask open-ended questions: What better way to learn than to ask questions. Open-ended questions about the processes and people you are managing will allow you to learn about them. And the Harvard Business Review points out, asking open-ended questions actually increases the level of trust your employees feel in you because you’re demonstrating that you value what they have to say.
- Always be learning: Another gem of wisdom from the Harvard Business Review. The more you know and understand, the more actively you can manage. By expanding your knowledge regularly with relevant educational or professional opportunities, you’ll widen your understanding of your workplace, its people and its processes.
- Become of aware of your relationship with knowledge: A third and final tip from the Harvard Business Review is to consider your relationship with what you know and what you don’t. Some questions include whether you’re required to know everything or whether that’s even possible. Thinking about this can help you be at peace with some of the not knowing that can come with managing, especially early in your management career.
- Use assessments to learn about yourself and your team: Have you ever been caught off guard when a member of your team negatively reacted to your attempt to coach or mentor them? You may have approached them in a way that you’d like to be approached, but that's not always the best approach. As we’ve learned through our understanding of behavioral psychology, not every one likes to be coached or motivated in the same way. If Sara tends to be more social than analytical, mentoring her with a logical explanation that lacks a people focus may be frustrating for her. Use what we call the Platinum Rule and treat people the way they want to be treated.
- Give up control every now and then: As a leader, you’re responsible to make sure the ship is headed in the right direction. Sometimes that means you have to step in and take control, but long-term that can actually stifle results. When you solve problems or take difficult work off your teams’ plate, you prevent them from developing as much as they could if they worked independently. By giving up control you’ll develop your team and become a leader rather than a manager.
- Listen actively and communicate thoughtfully: A workplace can be a noisy place. Through the noise however, there is much to take in that can improve your leadership skills. Listen, really listen to what your employees are saying. That may mean probing with some follow-up questions when they make a statement or answer a question. Sometimes the immediate meaning of their words – or their silence - is masking something deeper.
What tips do you have to be a more effective leader?