Leadership is no easy task; we all become leaders at certain points in our lives, be it at the workplace or at home.
Being in a position where people look up to you for guidance and direction can be quite challenging, but it is your duty as a leader not to let those who rely on and trust you down.
What matters, however, is how well you are able to use your position as a leader in the service of others.
In this article, we will be sharing 11 actionable tips you can use to level up your leadership skills not only in the workplace but anywhere you assume leadership positions. Let’s dive in.
- Be Clear on Your Goals and Objectives
- Lead by Example
- Trust and Delegate
- Always Listen
- Get a Mentor
- Deploy Empathy
- Be Vulnerable
- Praise and Reward
- Encourage Personal Growth
- Be Transparent
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11 WAYS TO IMPROVE LEADERSHIP SKILLS IN THE WORKPLACE
1. BE CLEAR ON YOUR GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
A leader in whatever capacity is the vision bearer. It is the task of the leader to develop a clear and specific vision with which to lead. Your daily efforts as a leader should be geared towards making a particular vision a reality.
A leader with a clear vision serves as a guiding beacon for others. You show others the path to tread. Besides having to dream up a vision, you also have to communicate that vision to your team members. Help them see why the vision is important to you, to them, and the company.
Note that a vision will stay a mirage unless it is backed up by action plans and individuals who are willing to execute. Get your team on board with your ideas and watch your dreams become a reality.
2. LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Your subordinates are more likely to do what you do than do what you say. Knowing this, you must lead by example. Set the standards you want others to follow.
If you consistently deliver excellent results on your KPIs, others will learn to see your performance as the standard and strive to emulate you. If you want things done in a certain way, you have to show it so that others can uphold your standards.
Truth be told, no one likes a boss who says one thing and then proceeds to do the complete opposite. You can imagine how quickly the employees will lose faith in a boss that practices double standards and can’t seem to do as he/she preaches.
As a leader, be sure to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”
Be more proactive; do not wait for things to get messy before you take action. When you see a need, take action.
Perseverance is an important ability, both in life and in business. It is a trait that anyone who wants to climb up the ladder of success must-have.
As a leader, you must learn to stay determined and persevere even when things don’t seem to be going your way.
In life and business, things don’t always go as planned most of the time. It takes a determined spirit to keep on pushing despite the challenges that may come up.
Influential and top-performing leaders are determined people who don’t take NO for an answer. Be a determined leader; keep pushing.
In as much as being determined is a good trait to have, you also need to know when to give up. When your efforts are sure to yield better results elsewhere, then it’s probably time to start channeling your doggedness somewhere else.
4. TRUST AND DELEGATE
Oftentimes, we see leaders trying to do everything themselves and only delegating duties they find boring or consider unimportant. This is wrong.
Instead of trying to figure out how to do everything on your own, learn to delegate duties to other competent hands. Once you have assigned a task to someone, do not micromanage them; give them the room and support they need to do a good job. Learn to trust your people; they will appreciate it.
As a leader, you have to learn the value of delegation. If done right, delegation can help you focus on more important tasks while also helping you groom others by letting them try new things—a win-win for everyone.
5. ALWAYS LISTEN
A good leader listens to his/her superiors and anyone within the organization, irrespective of where that person sits in the company hierarchy. A good leader listens genuinely, not just listening to reply but listening to understand.
When your team members can count on you to always provide a listening ear, they are more likely to come to you when problems arise, instead of hiding issues till the very last minute. This way, you can tackle these problems early before they escalate.
Your team members will also feel more valued when they know that their input is important and that they are not just slaves meant to do your bidding. This will make them more committed to the team and the company.
6. GET A MENTOR
Good leaders know the importance of learning. What better way to learn other than from an experienced mentor?
Getting a mentor will help you avoid years of trial and error. You will be able to grow faster as a person and as a leader if you get the right mentor, someone who is experienced at what you want to learn and is willing to teach you.
You can get a mentor from within your company or outside your company; it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you commit to learning as much as possible from that mentor. You are expected to learn not just from what your mentor tells you but also from the things they don’t say. Learn from how they handle their leadership duties.
7. DEPLOY EMPATHY
The ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes, understand their perspective, and empathize with them is an invaluable skill to have as a leader. Empathy doesn’t judge; empathy listens; empathy seeks to truly understand; empathy doesn’t assume or jump to conclusions.
Here’s an example.
A sales rep who has been crushing his monthly targets for the past few months suddenly fell short of his mandated targets in the previous month.
A manager/leader without empathy will threaten to fire that sales rep if his numbers don’t go back up. On the other hand, a leader with empathy will try to understand why the sales rep couldn’t perform like he usually did and be patient enough to give him time to resolve any issues that may affect his performance.
8. SHOWING VULNERABILITY ISN’T BAD
Often, we see leaders trying to portray themselves as strong and independent people with no weaknesses whatsoever. This makes them unapproachable. This is especially true for newly promoted leaders or recently employed managers who want to ‘prove their worth.’
However, what most leaders overlook or don’t fully understand is that there is power in vulnerability. At first, glance, being vulnerable before your employees might appear counter-intuitive, but it can very easily be the key to building loyalty and trust within your ranks.
A good leader acknowledges his/her weaknesses; a good leader isn’t afraid to fail because there is no success without failure. A good leader is not afraid to make mistakes. A good leader is comfortable asking for help.
When you share your struggles and weaknesses with others, they can step in to fill in those areas that are lacking in your repertoire, thereby eliminating any effects your weaknesses may have had on the outcome.
9. GIVE PRAISE AND REWARD TO THOSE WHO DESERVE IT
Never underestimate the power of public praise or any type of praise in general; it motivates like nothing else.
As a leader, always show your appreciation whenever an employee goes out of their way to ensure that a particular objective was met.
Praise your team when they do something out of the ordinary and when they do what is expected of them on time.
Employees who feel seen and appreciated are more likely to keep putting in the effort to deliver their best work. Those who feel that they are not getting enough appreciation for their work are more likely to be less motivated.
It doesn’t matter if they are being paid or not; a word of appreciation from you as a leader can go a long way in boosting morale and uplifting spirits. It doesn’t have to be public; a written note or short text usually goes a long way.
10. ENCOURAGE PERSONAL GROWTH
As a leader, you pretty much can’t do without personal growth. Growth is the only way to stay in leadership. As new challenges emerge daily and as your role in your company evolves, growth lets you stay sharp and conquer the trials that come your way.
In addition to growing personally, leaders are expected to help their employees grow too. Teach them your tricks, assign them tasks that will challenge them, and get their creative juices flowing.
Encourage your employees to seek out knowledge, make provisions for them to undergo training and workshops. See your team members not just as they currently are as who they can be, and then help them get to that level.
11. BE TRANSPARENT
For your leadership to be effective, your team members must trust you. How do you build trust with your employees? By being transparent.
What is being transparent all about?
Transparency is being able to have honest and open conversations about any and everything pertaining to the work that you and your team engage in. There shouldn’t be any ‘grey area’; everything should be as open and transparent as possible.
It is your job as the leader to promote a work environment where transparency is the order of the day. Share the good, bad, and the ugly with your team. Openly discuss problems and the way forward.
STYLES OF LEADERSHIP: DISCOVERING YOUR STYLE
Having gone through the ways to improve your leadership skills in the workplace, it’s time to learn about the different leadership styles.
There are different types of leadership styles, each suited for different use cases. An effective leader knows which style of leader to incarnate depending on what the situation calls for.
In this section, we will be going over some of the most common leadership styles and how to determine the leadership style that best suits your personality. The goal is to help you become the well-rounded leader you always wanted to be.
This is a “my way or the highway” type of leadership. The autocratic style of leadership does not accommodate the opinions of the team members. Everyone is expected to do as the leader says, end of story!
At first glance, this leadership style might seem too harsh or outdated in today’s business world, but it is still necessary.
Autocratic leadership is the way to go when working with new and inexperienced employees, when important decisions need to be made immediately, or when strict guidelines must be followed.
However, this style of leadership can’t be deployed all the time as it is sure to make employees feel replaceable and not valued.
In a democratic style of leadership, everyone has a say. A democratic leader considers the opinions of his/her employees before making a decision.
Democratic Leadership is great for organizations where creativity is highly valued because this style of leadership accommodates ideas from all the stakeholders involved.
However, the democratic leadership style lacks when time is of the essence, and fast decision making is required.
In this type of leadership, the leader adopts a more hands-off approach. All the leader does is assign tasks to the employees; the leader then takes a step back so the employees can go about their duties as they please.
LAISSEZ-FAIRE LEADERSHIP works when dealing with employees that are experienced and require little to no supervision.
If new and inexperienced employees are involved, deploying the laissez-faire style of leadership will result in disaster.
In this type of leadership, the leader seeks to build team members who can utilize their strengths to their maximum potential.
The coaching leadership style is more interested in the individual growth of the employees. A coaching leader creates an environment where the individual employees can learn to be the best versions of themselves.
Although this leadership style is great for helping employees grow, it’s quite time-intensive and won’t work well in companies where speed is critical.
This is a form of leadership where the employees are rewarded (usually monetary rewards) based on their ability to meet specific targets.
Transactional leadership works well when the employees are mandated to meet very specific targets. It is an incentive-driven type of leadership.
Although it can be quite limiting, this type of leadership works best when achieving short term objectives is the goal.
In the pacesetting style of leadership, the leader sets the pace and then urges on his/her team members to do exactly how he/she has done.
Pacesetting Leadership style prioritizes high performance with little or no supervision.
Although this type of leadership encourages fast-paced results, it can’t be sustained for long periods as employees eventually become too stressed out to be productive.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE?
Knowing the different leadership styles and what they entail, you can now choose the right leadership style for you.
The style of leadership that fits you personally. Also, bear in mind that you will have to switch from one leadership style to the next depending on what the situation calls for.
- Take a Leadership style assessment test
This is pretty much the simplest and easiest route to take in determining the right leadership style for you. There are a lot of options online, both free and paid. A typical leadership style assessment test involves you answering a series of questions regarding your personality and your leadership preferences. Based on the answers you provide, you will then be assigned a certain style of leadership.
- Seek feedback
Ask others what they think of your leadership style. Ask them to classify your style of leadership based on the different styles we have discussed here.
The feedback you get will help you determine what your dominant leadership style is.
- Just do you
Be authentic, do what feels right, and is in line with your personality and values. Pick a style of leadership that comes naturally to you and run with that.