By | Sarah Kaminski | Freelance writer
What does it mean to be a good leader? Now, there’s a question many managers, team leaders, and CEOs have asked themselves over the years.
One of the aspects of leadership is certainly leading by example. It inspires your team, it sets the tone, and it helps establish positive behaviors and performances.
In this post, we’ll take a look at five ways you can lead so that others will follow.
1. Know the Job
Employees will often respect leaders who know the job well rather than those who only have a managerial background.
If you’ve previously worked in the roles you are now managing and worked your way up to a leadership role, ensure you stay up to date with the practices and tasks that need to be tackled on the daily.
If you have no experience doing the work, make sure you get some. Ask your team to help – they will love it!
2. Take Responsibility for Your Actions
Taking ownership is a major factor in being a strong leader. Effective leadership will often spur incredible results; however, mistakes and missed deadlines need to be owned up to just the same.
If you make a mistake or an error in judgment, admit it freely and apologize. Find a way to remedy it and work your way towards a solution. Don’t ever blame your faults on your team, but don’t take ownership of their mistakes either – to each their own.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Burnout in the workplace is becoming increasingly common, especially in the startup world and entrepreneurial settings. In order to prevent it, we all have to learn when we need to take a break. Setting the tone in this regard is a very important aspect of leadership.
By making sure you are getting enough sleep, you’ll be boosting your own performance. This example can encourage your team to do the same, especially if you clearly show them that you’re not going to stay in the office late if the task can be done in the morning. Prioritize the mental and physical health of your team, and success will follow. Have them (and yourself) burning the candle at both ends, and the fire will scorch your fingers soon enough.
4. Be Mindful of Your Words and Tone
How you speak to your employees will show them what kind of leader you really are. If you need to shout in order to get yourself heard and use threats to get the job done, you are not exactly leadership material, are you?
Your parents must have told you to speak like you would like to be spoken to, and this is of special importance in the workplace. True, we can all lose our temper sometimes, especially if the issue is vast (even Tom Cruise has recently allowed himself to lose his customary cool). But that’s exactly why you want to practice remaining calm and hold off conflict until you can approach it with a clear head.
Also be aware of the words you are using. Be respectful of each individual’s background, don’t use inflammatory jargon, and carefully choose the words with which to offer praise and criticism. You can come up with a list for each occasion you feel reflects your intentions best, and work from there.
5. Whatever You Do, Listen
Effective and inspirational leaders are great listeners. They never brush information off just because they don’t agree with what is being said. They are open to criticism, they like to hear what others think about a situation, and they love to hear others’ solutions.
Teach yourself how to always be ready to hear someone out, even if they are coming to you with anger and frustration. Be open to adopting different solutions, and never tell an employee you don’t have time to listen to them. Tell them you can hear them out at a certain time instead.
Another aspect of listening is considering what you have heard. If you are the type of person who needs a bit of time to think about what has been said, take your time. That’s far better than rushing into snap decisions you may later come to regret.
People often say leaders are born and not made, but the truth is, even the most naturally gifted leaders need to keep working on their skills to stay sharp. And even if leadership doesn’t come that naturally to you, you can train yourself to become nothing short of inspirational.
Keep working on your skills and your mindset every day, and write down the lessons you learn along the way. It will serve as an incredible blueprint of the road you’ve traveled and how far you’ve come.
Lastly, accept setbacks as a part of the process and don’t let them hold you back. Leaders are built through hardship, and not baptized in calm waters.
Sarah Kaminski is a freelance writer and social media marketer. She works with a number of small businesses to build their brands through more engaging marketing and content