It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that behind every great business is, invariably, a great team of leaders.
Sadly, nearly 60% of all businesses are bereft of strong leaders. And of course, this shortage of talent can create a negative ripple effect throughout an organization: 37% percent of workers have left jobs due to poor leadership.
Being exceptional at any endeavor— whether it’s painting, parenting or skiing— doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t wake up one day and suddenly become a world-renowned pianist. The same can be said of becoming a great leader.
In fact, being a great leader is more an art than it is a science, and anyone can become a better, more effective, and more successful leader— you just need time, practice and perseverance.
Still, you can start supporting your team today with these strong leadership habits.
1. Look at the big picture
Sure, you’re busy. You’re running meetings, problem-solving and pushing work through the pipeline. But, as a leader, you also need to step back from the everyday minutia to focus on the horizon — new opportunities and innovations that will help meet and exceed your company’s goals.
2. Be decisive and confident
When the time comes to make a decision, make it firmly. Great leaders are self-assured, confident, and do not waver once they commit to a course of action. You’ll find your employees are naturally drawn to someone who imparts a strong sense of self-confidence, particularly during turbulent times. We know you can do it!
3. Prioritize what is truly important
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
An old adage, perhaps, but so true. You know what you need to tackle, so get to it: Make a list of your top priorities and keep them in plain sight. Say no to distractions and busy work, and yes to anything that helps you check those priorities off your list. Sure, you can simultaneously track seemingly small details, as long as they don’t get in the way of your true priorities.
4. Build on your strengths
You know what your strengths are. Make good use of them by taking on projects and tasks that showcase your true talents. Your core strengths will differentiate you from the rest of the pack, allowing you to create your unique brand.
5. Build on the strengths of others
Great leaders are also able to quickly recognize the skills and expertise of their team members. Seek out the knowledge and wisdom of your colleagues and always acknowledge their value. There are lessons all around you if you pay attention and always keep an open mind. Think of your colleagues as your family. Get to know what makes them tick, and what motivates them to achieve.
6. Empower and inspire others
A successful leader empowers employees, granting them the authority to voice their opinions and take ownership of their assignments. You naturally motivate your team by giving everyone an equal shot at opportunities, promotions, assignments, and training. When you act with integrity, you foster loyalty and high morale; in return, you’ll be rewarded with high productivity and low attrition rates.
7. Practice optimism
With a positive, can-do attitude, your optimism can liven up the workplace. Look for ways to passionately stimulate and energize your team. Contrary to conventional wisdom, fun and hard work do not need to be mutually exclusive!
8. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Keep your people in the loop and up-to-date at all times; this way, you ensure that everyone is on the same page and able to remain focused.
Remember to use your powers of persuasion to impart the right messages at the right time. Think before you hit that send button, and ask yourself, “Would this be better said in person?” or “Is now the right time to make this statement?” Timing and tone can make all the difference. So take a moment and be deliberate when your objective is to craft messages intended to inspire, motivate, and offer reassurance.
9. Acknowledge and reward
Great leaders rarely take credit for their successes.
Instead, they pay homage to their colleagues and employees. Humility is a sign of a great leader, and great leaders know that true professionals are driven by a pride of workmanship. For many American professionals, receiving acknowledgment and credit for good work oftentimes supersedes any form of monetary reward or elevation in status.
It’s so easy to say thank you to your employees for what seem like everyday tasks, yet we rarely remember to do so. So take the time to engage positively with your team members. It’s a little effort that goes a long way.
10. Provide challenges
With a refined sense of insight and perception, great leaders understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team members and know just how to bring out the best in them.
Talented performers, in particular, thrive in an environment rife with constant challenge. Meet regularly with your employees and set objectives that will stretch their capabilities and shape their skills. Under your fine tutelage, your team members will blossom and grow to become even more productive and talented — which will only make you and your organization more successful.
11. Walk the walk
Accountability is a key to great leadership. And, leading by example is arguably the most important trait of leadership. The most successful leaders are prepared to work alongside their team during times of crisis and take responsibility for any blowback that occurs along the way.
In today’s competitive environment, developing and investing in strong leadership should be upheld as a number one priority for any business to succeed. Hopefully, you are working for a forward-thinking and innovative company that has already provided you the tools to thrive and mentor your employees.
Regardless, keep these handy tips in constant practice as you build a name for yourself and create your own personal brand for great leadership.