10 Ways to Be a Better Leader

Practical ideas for improvement

Although you may own or manage a small business, are you a true leader? Not everyone can rightfully claim that title. After you take a closer look, you may want to consider these 10 practical suggestions to improve yourself.

1. Get organized. Disorganization often leads to chaos in the office. If you find yourself running amok, the business will not be able to operate smoothly. When you are organized, you can expect more productivity from everyone else.

2. Lead by example. It might be what you do, rather than what you say, that really counts. For instance, you will have less impact if you are hardly ever around the office or you always work behind closed doors. Get out front and show the staff what you can do. Do not hesitate to roll up your sleeves and take on some of the work yourself.

3. Show passion. How can you expect employees to be excited about coming to work if you are not? Inspire others to perform better through your own enthusiasm. That does not necessarily mean you always have to be a cheerleader, but you should demonstrate that you believe in the company’s mission and objectives.

4. Put it in writing. Don’t expect your staffers to remember all the instructions you shout out during the workday. When the situation calls for it, provide written guidelines they can refer to easily.

5. Delegate. You cannot do everything at your company at all times. Concentrate on what is most important to the business, and assign other tasks and responsibilities. Let employees take ownership of certain projects that are suited for them, and let them run with it.

6. Practice what you preach. If you tell others not to do something and then you do it yourself, you are sending the wrong message to your staff. Stick to your own principles.

7. Communicate. Of course, every manager knows the importance of communicating, but many forget to do it—or they only pay it lip service. Remember that employees are not mind readers.

8. Listen. Part of being a good communicator is being a great listener. A leader should not do all the talking. Keeping people motivated means listening to them, asking them questions and understanding the issues.

9. Be upfront. Sometimes you have to be the bearer of bad news. Do not shirk your responsibilities. Tackle problems head-on, and do your best to resolve them. You might have to weather some hard looks or eye rolls for a short time, but in the end the staff will respect you more for it. Don’t try to hide from confrontations. Eventually, they will find you anyway.

10. Get to know the staff. Find out what makes your employees tick. What are their lives like outside of work? Keep track of events such as birthdays, marriages, births and graduations, and mention them to workers. This will help you strengthen your relationships.

Make a conscious effort to provide the leadership that is needed in the workplace. The start of the new year is a good time to increase your efforts.

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