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5 Keys to Being a Successful Leader

14 Jul 2016 by

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There are various types of leaders with differing styles that could all be successful in their spheres. However, when it comes to business, there are a few general rules that any leader could apply and benefit from. With some hard work and commitment, you can do these 5 things and see the improvements in your company’s culture, your employee’s engagement, and your business’s overall success.

Have and share a vision

One of the most crucial things you can do for your business is have a vision for your company and inspire your employees with that vision. Company goals need to be meaningful and worth everyone’s time. Advocate for your vision and communicate it clearly and often. Set challenging (but doable) goals that align with your business’s purpose and motivate employees to really invest themselves in the same vision. A great example of this kind of motivation was Steve Jobs’ leadership style at Apple. His attitude that he made loud and clear was that he and his employees were there to make awesome products and change the world, and anyone who wasn’t there for that same purpose could leave. The money was not the motivating factor in the work of Apple employees. Instead, people invested themselves in Jobs’ vision of doing amazing things, and then made that vision come true.

Be available and communicate

As a leader, you need to be a clear and open communicator. The first step to being good at communication is being available to your employees. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with your busy schedule and long to-do list, but taking a few minutes out of your day to talk to an employee who’s not on your agenda will go a long way.

When interacting with employees, remember that communication is meant to be two-way. Sometimes you’ll need to be the one talking, setting clear expectations, giving honest and constructive feedback, or interfering when absolutely necessary. However, many other times it would be better to talk less and listen more. Be open to hearing people’s ideas, receiving feedback, and learning from others. Don’t be a one-man show, encourage problem-solving and solution generating from your entire team. Not only will you become a better leader by being open to ideas, but your employees will be more engaged in their jobs when they are able to solve problems for themselves and contribute beyond their everyday responsibilities.

Make sure communication within your company is efficient and drives results. Meetings should be only as long as necessary, concise, and effective. Find the balance between being open and efficient to reduce employee frustration, disengagement, and wasted time.

Embrace change

We are in an ever-changing world, especially in this age of technology. As a leader of a company, it is wise to embrace change and welcome new ideas and methods. When employees come up with innovative ideas for the company, it shows that they care about their work; support their creativity. Stay up-to-date on changes in your industry and make a point of constantly educating yourself on the latest trends in your field so you and your company never fall behind. Being knowledgeable about and welcoming advances in your industry will help your business stay ahead of your competition.

Keeping an open mind and embracing change requires that you be flexible. Be careful not to get stuck in your ways or convinced that you’ve figured everything out; there are always things to learn and ways to improve. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow! New things are worth exploration and consideration at the very least.

Lead by example

The strongest leaders lead by example. You can’t ask of your employees what you are unwilling to do yourself. Think of the characteristics you would like to see in your employees and that you want your business to be known for, and exhibit them in your actions. The more hardworking, confident, humble, and diligent you are, the more your employees will be. This is especially true and important when it comes to modeling ethical behavior. Set the example of honesty, integrity, and basic decency and your employees will be much more likely to follow suit.

Perhaps this advice sounds obvious, but there are some things that might feel unnatural for a leader to do that are in actuality extremely influential and beneficial for employees to see. For example, take ownership of your mistakes. Don’t pass the blame or make excuses; you wouldn’t want your employees doing that, so lead the way by admitting your errors. Just because you are a leader does not mean you don’t have weaknesses or that you must hide your weaknesses. Apologize without hesitating when you mess up and you will gain more respect. Being a leader doesn’t make you all-knowing, either. Admit when you don’t know every answer. You’re not always going to be right! Don’t be afraid to admit that you are human just like everyone else. That being said, forgive mistakes just like you would want employees to forgive yours. These acts of humility will spread throughout your company if you set the example.

Celebrate successes

Employees often wonder how they’re doing at their job and if their boss is pleased with their work. Good leaders let their employees know, especially when they’re doing well. While you don’t want to overdo praise, take a little time to cherish and relish big success when it happens. If you don’t take the opportunity to celebrate a little, motivation to push harder next time around will decrease. Whether you do a short recognition with a pat on the back or a party, do something to celebrate milestones. A sincere “Great job!” from the boss can really mean a lot.

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