When we think of leaders, we think of people who stand out as particularly influential and powerful. However, strictly speaking, true leadership isn’t defined by influence and power. The way you use your influence and power is what defines you as a leader.
As a leader of your company, you can rest assured that your employees look up to you. A strong leader is someone who empowers and inspires their team. You can draw forth the best in your employees through the following actions.
Self-Discipline and Personal Responsibility
To be a good leader, first, you need to have strong leadership of yourself. By demonstrating and modeling qualities such as self-discipline and personal responsibility, a leader teaches others to do the same. This means accepting full responsibilities for all of your actions, decisions, outcomes, and behaviors.
To ensure that your decisions are undertaken in a controlled and unbiased manner, you need to practice self-discipline. Not only do you need to be fully aware of the consequences of your decisions and actions, but you also need to be prepared for them.
Encourage Your Employees to Do Their Thing
Communicate the goals, values, mission, and vision to your employees and then step back and let them do their thing. Don’t micromanage. This will encourage other managers to follow suit.
Your power will be paper thin if you are not a person of integrity—no matter how polished you are. If you want to be a good leader, communication skills and poise are not enough. Integrity comes from knowing what you stand for and who you are, as well as being clear on your core values.
Moreover, you must speak and behave in line with all of that if you want to demonstrate that you are a person of integrity. If you behave in a manner that is respectful and honest, you will inspire respect and honesty in others.
Practicing Careful and Active Listening
Clinical psychologist and professor Dr. Jordan B Peterson suggests, “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you need to know.”
This will motivate you to become a better listener. Approach each person with curiosity. In doing so, you’ll be teaching your employees that they should treat other people in a way that is naturally respectful, regardless of their title or position.
When people feel like they have your full attention and interest, they will be more likely to share that precious knowledge with you. Each and every person carries inherent wisdom, and careful listening will allow you to gain from it. Moreover, you will foster respect in those that follow you by practicing active listening.
You need to build resilience in the face of adversity if you want to set a good example for others. To bend instead of breaking in times of change, you need to be resilient.
Resilience is especially important when it comes to the financials of your company. A good leader needs to know how to manage finances without behaving recklessly or succumbing to temptations.
If you are in the habit of constantly working overtime and pushing yourself beyond your limits in an unhealthy way, your employees may believe you expect the same from them and they may start emulating you.
Going the extra mile is typically good, but you don’t want your employees to overwork themselves. If they can’t follow your pace, they might become burned out.
To avoid this, let your employees know how much you value personal wellness and health. Lead a healthy and balanced life and encourage your employees to do the same. And health is best achieved through exercise and recreation.
You can bike or jog to work, and you can invite your employees to join you. Whenever you are feeling stressed, take a break. Put an air hockey table or a gaming console in the office and blow off some steam together with your employees.
If you’re really into a healthy sport or particular self-improvement book, share the excitement with your team. If your office has a garden or extra room, you can use it to do yoga, meditate, and exercise together with your employees.
Since extra nutrition might be needed for such activities, stack the kitchen with tasty snacks and sports nutrients. Your employees may not share the exact same interests as you do, so be sure to encourage them to bring their hobbies to the workplace.
A good leader understands that they will eventually need to make themselves redundant by taking others under their wing and preparing them for succession.
You need to actively foster leadership qualities in your employees. The best way to set up yourself and your company for success is to surround yourself with competent people.
Good leaders understand that encouraging others to improve and grow is more important than preserving their own ego or maintaining top rank.
Knowing How to Fail
It’s important to strive for perfection, but it’s also important to come to terms with the fact that it’s not actually attainable. True leaders know that failure is part of the equation, so they expect to fail sooner or later.
When that happens, they don’t blame others for their losses, they don’t give in to rage, and they don’t try to cover things up. Instead of being afraid of failure, a strong leader examines their losses to find opportunities for learning.
Getting Your Hands Dirty
In addition to all the duties you have as a leader, you must work alongside your employees. You don’t have to be the biggest expert in your company, but you must have an in-depth understanding of what your employees do and how they do it.
Know your trade and do the work. By working alongside your team, you will develop your own skills and knowledge as well as build trust.
Respecting the Chain of Command
You need to respect the chain of command even if you are a senior leader. If you don’t respect the hierarchy, why would anyone else?
Going around your direct reports is one of the fastest ways to damage morale, foster confusion, and cause structural deterioration. If you are at the top of the chain of command, be sure to respect the autonomy of managers that are under you.