Getting to the top and becoming a leader can feel like the end of a journey – but it is actually just the start.
Constantly developing and honing your leadership skills and applying new techniques to your role can improve work not just for you, but for your team as well. There are lots of ways you can work to improve how you lead, and the good news is that they don’t take a whole lot of time or effort to implement.
Take these five great hacks and put them to work in your own leadership job, and see what a difference they can make to performance, morale and achieving goals.
- Take appraisals from your team
Feedback is crucial in any form of employment and most companies have feedback channels between managers and their teams – but these tend to be a one-way street. Consider letting your team appraise your own performance.We give feedback to our team members because it helps them learn and develop on the job. It ensures negative habits and behaviours are picked up on and dealt with, and that positive actions are noted and rewarded. However, too many leaders are resistant to taking feedback themselves – and team members are often scared to deliver it. Giving your team the freedom to report back to you with their ideas and thoughts, and to offer criticism of management if it is due, is a sign of strength in leadership. It shows that you care how the staff feel and what they want from their roles, and it gives you an opportunity to develop and nurture your own leadership skills in the process. From line managers to CEOs and directors, be ready to accept the opinions of your staff and give them a voice in the company that is heard and appreciated.
- Keep on learning
Landing a leadership role can often seem like the end of a hard journey. You have put in the hard graft, learned what you can and paid your dues – and now you can focus on putting your knowledge into practice. However, it is important to remember that there is always room for development.
Even as the head of a busy multi-national organisation, there will be opportunities to learn and improve. Knowledge and skills are never finite. A leader who is committed to learning and who brings their new skills to the job can instill a learning attitude in the staff and help the company discover new ways to do things.
- Turn things inside out and work backwards
No, we haven’t gone completely mad – quite the opposite! It can be very tempting to lead in a forward style. After all, you are moving forward and heading after goals in the future, so that is the direction your efforts should take – right?
However, there is a line of thinking that says you should first create the idea, and then look at it from the end of its journey back to the idea itself. Sound complicated? A British comedian once joked that he starts with a laugh and works backwards, trying to decide what would induce that level of laughter. Leaders can use this idea to move businesses forward.Imagine your best idea for your team is already in action, and you are five years down the line. Can you see any potential flaws or obstacles which could break down your aims? Is there a future event that could throw your plan off course? If your role requires making decisions that could play out over years rather than months, make sure you look at it from every possible angle. It can take a little bit of practice to undo the years of start-to-finish conditioning we all have, but turning things on their head and looking for problems before they can kick in is the sign of a committed and proactive leader.
- Remove the managers and concentrate on duties, not roles
This might seem radical, but the idea of self-organisation and holacracy is sweeping across workplaces – and it might just make a difference to yours. Modern business models are embracing the idea that everyone should form part of the same whole, and information and opportunities should be open to all. Instead of assigning roles and labels to staff, duties and requirements should be clearly defined and distributed.
Leadership is still entirely necessary under self-organisation, but it loses its sense of authority in favour of a sense of direction. Leaders work to assist their team in moving tasks forward, and in filling roles as they arise, rather than stepping back and acting as overseer for projects and operations. To be a leader in this kind of working environment means pulling people together and working on morale – which leads us to our next leadership hack: rewarding staff.
- Make praise and rewards part of daily work life How often do you take the time to reward your staff? If you do give out prizes and rewards for good work, have you noticed a difference in productivity from everyone? People are naturally competitive, so if there is a chance for an incentive to be earned, it can perk up the whole team. However, spontaneous and unexpected praise for hard work also goes a long way, and it can show workers they are appreciated – which in turn makes them keen to work harder.
Rewarding staff for great work doesn’t need to be expensive. Many team leaders feel they don’t have the budget to give gifts to their staff, but there are plenty of ways to stretch the petty cash a little further and get a few gifts for the top performers each month. Studies show that a little gift or token can go a long way to boosting morale and improving staff retention rates – so you could even save on recruitment costs in the long term!
Written by: David Fournier is a professional writer and marketing analyst in OZCodes. He has been writing for small to mid-sized businesses, assisting them with their business needs. He also likes to use social media and read books.