Whether you’re an entrepreneur who’s started hiring staff for the first time or you’ve been in the management game for a decade, odds are good that your leadership skills have room for improvement.
That’s because the work of being a leader is never done. Instead, new challenges arise all the time, and the managerial skillset constantly evolves.
Or at least it should. In order to become a better leader, you have to put some thought and effort into it. Not sure where to start? The following strategies are all but guaranteed to make both you and your team more effective at work.
1. Get to know your team.
Your team is comprised of real human beings, and the more you treat them as such the more likely they are to listen to what you have to say, remain loyal to the team, and invest their all at work.
There’s no shortcut when it comes to developing relationships with your team members. Instead, it requires a consistent investment of time, effort, and attention. You can do this by:
- Leaving your office and mingling with team members on a regular basis
- Making a point of asking your team members about their personal lives
- Learning about each team member’s preferred communication style and honoring those preferences
- Asking each team member about their professional and personal goals
- Openly and frequently appreciating each team member’s contributions to the workplace
- Committing to open, honest, and respectful communication with team members at all times
- Making yourself available to team members on a regular basis so they feel more like your equal than your subordinate
- Sharing details about your own personal life and goals so that team members are able to have a connection with you (and not just the other way around)
Of course, it nearly goes without saying that these connections only work if they’re genuine. If you’re simply going through the motions or you don’t actually care about your team members, they will know. As a leader, it’s your job to sincerely invest in knowing your team as the individual people they are.
2. Emphasize results and let go of micro-managing.
If someone on your team consistently turns in high-quality work, comes up with creative ideas, and contributes to a positive company culture, then do you really need to care about the fact that they arrive 10 minutes late to work multiple times a week? (Hopefully, you answered “no”.)
Good leaders understand that the work matters more than the details. If your team members are producing high-quality work, then there’s no need to micro-manage their days. Even if your team members aren’t producing high-quality work, micromanaging is almost definitely not going to earn you the results you seek. It will just upset and alienate your team members, who will then be even less inclined to invest in their work.
Bottom line? Let your team members breathe, and they’re more likely to thrive.
3. Commit to professional development.
Good leaders inspire team members to think innovatively, stay at the cutting edge of their fields, and grow professionally—but that can only happen if you’re committed to doing the same. To that end, make a point of regularly engaging in professional development opportunities.
This could involve honing your skills by, say, attending a digital marketing conference or taking a business writing skills workshop, presenting at an industry symposium, reading books about leadership, finding a mentor, and so on. Not only will these activities make you a more creative worker yourself, but they’ll also serve as an excellent model for your team.
4. Invest in your team members’ professional development.
One of the most effective ways to retain top talent and demonstrate to your team members that you care about them in a genuine way is to invest in their professional development. This involves taking the time to notice each team member’s strengths and brainstorming ways to leverage these skills.
For example, you might come up with the funds to send a team member to a professional development workshop that’s right up their alley, or propose a change in job duties or title that will enable another team member to truly capitalize on their skills. Also be sure to engage team members in crafting a professional development plan that suits their unique preferences and goals.
5. Sleep more.
At first glance, this tip might seem different than the ones described above. But it’s actually a critical part of sound leadership. Countless studies have found a strong link between quality sleep and improved work performance.
While this is true in terms of factors such as focus, task management, and productivity, it also relates to interpersonal relationships at work. When you’re well-rested, you’re less likely to be irritable and curt with your team members and more likely to give employees the time, attention, and respect they deserve in conversations and collaborations.
So make a point of investing in high-quality sleep, whether that entails buying blackout curtains or a or a new mattress, going to bed earlier, or establishing a relaxing pre-bedtime routine that helps you fall and stay asleep.
Bottom line? Top-notch leaders make it a point to take care of themselves and their employees. After that, the rest is likely to fall into place.
Author: Kenny Kline is a serial entrepreneur. His ventures are primarily focused on media and digital marketing. When not in front of his computer, he can be found beekeeping, knitting, and being as Brooklyn as humanly possible. Follow @ThisBeKenny on Twitter.