Learning how to be a good leader can greatly impact the success of your team, your organization and yourself.
To be an effective leader, you must understand your own motivations, strengths and weaknesses.
Great leaders connect with their team by facilitating open communication, encouraging employee growth and development, and giving and receiving feedback.
Anyone can sit in a corner office and delegate tasks, but there is more to effective leadership than that. Effective leaders have major impacts on not only the team members they manage, but also their company as a whole. Employees who work under great leaders tend to be happier, more productive and more connected to their organization – and this has a ripple effect that reaches your business's bottom line.
I think a great leader is one who makes those around them better," Dana Brownlee, founder of Professionalism Matters, told Business News Daily. "There are many litmus tests for a great leader, but I really look to those around them: Are they growing, becoming better leaders themselves, motivated, etc.?"
If you look around and see that your team members have become disengaged or stagnant in their work, it may be time to reassess and reform your strategies. According to Brownlee, the following behaviors are signs that you may have a poor leadership strategy:
No one on your team has criticized one of your ideas in the past month.
You spend more time planning your own career progression than that of your team members.
You haven't had at least three completely non-work-related conversations with a team member weekly.
Different team members would provide different answers if asked your top three priorities for the year.
Team members are afraid to fail.
A recent study by the Center for Creative Leadership showed that roughly 38% to more than half of new leaders fail within their first 18 months. Leaders can avoid becoming part of this staggering statistic by incorporating good leadership strategies that motivate their team members to accomplish their goals.
We spoke with CEOs, directors and leadership experts to learn what those leadership strategies are and how you can incorporate them.
1. Engage in honest, open communication.
One of the most important elements of effective leadership is creating an open line of communication with your team members. Sanjay Patoliya, the founder and director of Teclogiq, said that your own honesty and transparency should serve as an example for your team members.
"When you are responsible for a team of people, it is important to be straightforward," he said. "Your company and its employees are a reflection of yourself, and if you make honest and ethical behavior as a key value, your team will follow."
Brownlee added that great leaders are able to customize their interactions and communication styles to suit each situation and team member, based on individual preferences. "This means they take the time to figure out which communication mode is preferred by each team member – e.g., are they a text person, email, phone, or face-to-face? They're also great listeners and are authentically interested in other people."
Displaying active communication skills and transparency can build trust among your team and improve overall morale. Ruslan Fazlyev, CEO and founder of e-commerce solutions provider Ecwid, said that in all your communications, it's important to be genuine above all else.
"There are many leadership styles; there's no right and wrong," he said. "But there's genuine, and there's fake. There's no following to fake leadership." [What kind of leader are you? Take a look at these different traits, skills and styles.]
2. Connect with your team members.
Leading a group of people requires a mutual sense of trust and understanding between the leader and their team members. To achieve this, leaders should learn to connect.
Terry "Starbucker" St. Marie, a leadership writer and consultant, said that being a "more human" leader requires positivity, purpose, empathy, compassion, humility and love. These key traits will put you on the road to genuine connections with the members of your team.
"Building a real, personal connection with your teammates is vital to developing the shared trust necessary to build a strong culture of accountability and exceptional performance," St. Marie said. "With that culture in place, the team can achieve a successful business, a happy team and a fulfilled leader."
To build a connection with each of your team members, focus on getting to know their personality, interests, strengths, weaknesses, hobbies and preferences. This can give you insight into their goals and motivations.
Patoliya said that successful leaders allow their teams to develop autonomy and add value according to their own personal strengths. "Being able to recognize the strengths of individuals within their team, and allowing them to be responsible and accountable, not only increases employees' confidence in themselves and their leader, but also increases their performance."
3. Encourage personal and professional growth.
Acting as your team's cheerleader is an important part of being an effective leader. You should be invested in their success and growth.
Keri Ohlrich, the CEO of HR consulting company Abbracci Group, said that leaders should set aside a budget, if only a small one, to dedicate to the growth of their employees.
"With options as varied as on-demand, virtual [and] in-person options, there's ample opportunity to continue learning new skills or further developing existing ones," she said. "Empower your employees to take the time to learn and infuse that in the work they do."
In addition to investing in your employees' growth financially, you should invest emotionally. John Rampton, founder and CEO of Calendar, said that great leaders empower their employees to grow by giving them challenging opportunities and guiding them as needed.
"To motivate and inspire employees, leadership strategy is about empowering others to do their best and take on new challenges," he said. "Employees like challenges and feeling the satisfaction of overcoming them. Whether it's a tough client, a difficult sale, a hard situation or whatever the case, it's always good to let them take on these challenges."
When leaders believe in their employees and give them the opportunity to learn and grow, they might be surprised how much they can accomplish. Don't be afraid to delegate tasks and encourage freedom and creativity.
4. Keep a positive attitude.
As much as leaders wish their team's day-to-day operations could run smoothly all the time, they're bound to run into the occasional obstacle. Whether it's a minor miscommunication or a major error, the way you handle a negative situation says a lot about your leadership skills.