Leadership is not as difficult as people think, in fact, I believe we make it more difficult than it should be, by overthinking it. That’s not to say that it’s easy either, developing as a leader takes time, effort and real commitment, but there are many simple things that we can do that will have a significant impact on our ability to lead and influence people.
Here are ten simple things which if you practice them in 2017 will make you a better leader.
- Trust More
The first thing we can do is to trust people more. Trust is the cornerstone of leadership, and the more people you trust, the more people will trust you. I’ve often heard that people need to earn trust, but if you take this approach, you start with a lack of trust which will also impact how people see you. Give people the benefit of the doubt; it increases their confidence and belief in themselves when they know they have the trust of the leader.
- Listen More
Take the time to listen to your staff, ask questions and show an interest in their answers. When you do this it shows respect, which in return will make them respect you more, and you never know, you may just learn something interesting. Remember your teams know more about what happens on the front lines than you do.
- Talk More
Take the time to talk to your teams. Don’t just tell them what the goals are, tell them why they are important, give them some context. The more they know, the more informed any decision they have to make will be.
- Delegate More When we delegate work, especially if your team feels that it’s important work, it helps to create engaged and inspired teams. Don’t be afraid to delegate authority and control too, the more of our power and control we delegate the more influence we will have and the more work that will get done. It also has the added benefit of giving you more time to work on the more important things.
- Encourage More
Everyone is capable of achieving so much more, they just need to be encouraged to leave their comfort zone, and as a leader, you have the power to help them see that, and to build that believe that they will be successful.
- Support More
When I talk about support more, this is actually about letting your teams know they have your support. Too often managers just leave people feeling that they are on their own, which can cause doubts and fears which can impact performance. When I ask why they tell me, they don’t have the time to support everyone. But when you offer support, it’s like putting a safety net underneath a trapeze artist, it’s unlikely to be used, but it gives them so much more confidence.
- Smile More
When you smile, it helps make you feel more approachable, and it helps to build a better connection with your teams. When you smile it nearly always reciprocates a smile, as smiling is contagious, and that releases endorphins which help to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Develop More
One of the top reasons why staff leave companies is because of the lack of opportunities for development. Take the time to give your team challenges and opportunities to grow, to build their skills and to extend themselves. This doesn’t necessarily mean promotions or more money; it can just be small one-off projects. When you look to develop your staff that helps build loyalty, as well as more capable staff, so it’s win-win.
- Involve More
Don’t just give people directions, involve them in the discussion of what needs to be done, how it will be done and why. Give them the opportunity to contribute because when people become more involved they become more committed and take ownership which always helps to increase the probably of success. According to the research on projects that fail 70% of the time the team involved knew it was going to fail even before it started. So asking your team for their thoughts and input could help avoid some of these failures.
- Praise More
Last but not least take the time to praise your staff more. Praise is one of the quickest ways to improve performance, because what we praise gets repeated, and we always want good work to be repeated. People crave praise, and if they know that they will receive praise for going above and beyond, then they will be encouraged to do it.
Praise is a ver low-cost approach which can have a massive return on investment.
There is nothing in this list that you cannot start today, and none of them require a lot of investment or are difficult to do. Being a good leader, a better leader, is just about committing to doing these simple things. So why not make 2017 the year that you commit to being a better leader.