Four Simple Steps to Become a Better Leader
I think it's worth noting that the information in this piece is applicable to everyone, regardless of their position. Whether you head up a division of a few people, or a whole organization with thousands of moving parts, the principles of effective management remain relatively the same. This is largely due to the fact that as the leader of Best Practice, I'm in a position that requires me to motivate and inspire people around me, but I can't do this properly without first getting my affairs in order, and getting inspired myself. This is what brings me to my first tip:
Read books and educate yourself with online courses to get inspired.
Like I mentioned, you can't expect to influence the behaviour of people around you without first getting yourself inspired. It is my hope that you'll be inspired to read more and more books as you further your career. A mind left unchallenged is a mind left to wander without proper direction, so if you can conquer this inside your own head, you'll be more effective at getting results from the people around you. I'm a firm believer in constantly educating myself for both the reward, and the challenge. It works wonders for the human brain to be challenged on a frequent basis, and often produces the best results when confronted with new material and critical thinking. It's my belief that when you get to the position of CEO, this does not slow down, it should accelerate.
The more work I can do in bettering my abilities, the more robust and adaptable my business - and my staff - will be moving into the future. Offer up the ability for your staff to take part in some training courses or further education, even if it's on company time; this often pays dividends and your staff will value this opportunity.
Be the last person to speak at meetings.
This is an idea first presented to me by the one and only Simon Sinek, who argues that this will help you not only become a better leader, but a better listener that will encourage your staff to be more comfortable in the setting of a meeting. There's a few things going on with this principle: A) your staff will feel as though their opinion has been heard, and is valued- particularly when it comes before the boss. B) You get the benefit of synthesising what all your staff have to offer when addressing this problem. And finally, you won't have the opportunity to sway, bias or intimidate your staff by putting your thoughts out first.
There's a lot of psychology working in the background here, but in essence, it's human nature to follow the leader, and offer up an opinion that supports the superior; even if the opinion they're holding on to differs from that of the manager. I'm often the first in the meeting, but I'm always the last person to speak, and I believe this has made me appear less intimidating and more welcoming to new ideas- which is exactly what you're trying to foster as an effective leader.
Keep your door open
On a similar note, if you want to encourage a healthy rapport within your organization, don't close your door. The symbolism alone is enough to intimidate your staff members and breed a culture that is antithetical to what you want in a high-paced, efficient and dynamic working environment. In our office, you'll never find my door closed; I believe that if you want to lead effectively, you need to be prepared to answer as many questions as your staff can throw at you, and lead by example with a positive attitude, rather than an iron fist.
Embrace Transformational Leadership
Now, this is a dense topic, so I'll try my best at summing it up briefly. One of, if not the most important takeaways in this piece is to research and embrace what's known as a transformational approach to leadership. Following decades of research into the most effective leadership styles, academics are pretty damn sure that a transformational approach is the best way to manage teams, and get extraordinary results from ordinary people. This is a style of leadership differs drastically from the dominant corporate style of management, largely due to the hands-on approach involving the management team.
Leaders are accountable for creating an vision, for inspiring the team, for creating a collective identity for the organization, for encouraging peak performance from one-on-one problem solving where applicable. It is time consuming, I'm not going to deny that. But this time is usually invested early on in the process of onboarding staff, and if the team already has their mission statement and values established, it can even streamline the process of getting new people inducted. This style of leadership will help keep spirits buoyant, and is - I believe - what we should all be striving for as a profitable, efficient and friendly workplace.
Like I said at the beginning of this piece: You need your staff to want to come to work, and taking note of the points I've made should help you influence your staff in a healthy, friendly manner.