If you want to climb the corporate ladder and propel your company towards bigger and better things (or start your own amazing company) you need to start by improving your leadership skills. After all, you won’t get very far if you can’t inspire other people to follow you.
So how do you actually improve your leadership skills? You can spend thousands upon thousands of dollars doing leadership workshops, but the truth is you often don’t have to. There are many small steps you can take to improve your leadership skills on a daily basis without spending a single dollar.
Here are 10 ways to improve your leadership skills starting now:
Up your commitment
The higher your level of commitment to your company is, the more you will inspire other members of your company to commit to their work. Committing to becoming a better leader is also the first step towards becoming the company leader you can be. Your employees will work harder if they know you’re working just as hard to make the company function.
Outside of working hard during your actual office hours, commit half an hour every day to learning about leadership. You’ll be amazed how quickly the knowledge adds up.
Learn to create challenging visions
Everybody is more inspired and more willing to follow you if they can obviously see the direction you’re taking the company in. Establish a set of goals and a plan to get your company there. Be willing to work with individual employees to help them create a detailed list of goals they can work towards.
Cultivate your listening skills
Many people seem to have the mistaken idea that real leadership is all about being able to give orders when the truth is much more complicated than that. Really listening to your employees encourages them to stick around and might give you great ideas for how to expand your business. Learn to listen to your heart, to read what’s in between the lines of what people actually say. You can do this just by practicing or by attending workshops specifically around listening skills.
Set the highest standards for yourself
If you want your employees to work their hardest you must become a shining example of hard work. You must craft everything you release to the public carefully and implement meticulous quality control. Only when you’ve submitted yourself to these meticulous standards can you subject anyone else to them.
Your employees will work twice as hard if you tell them you believe in the work they’re doing, especially if you give them specific feedback about what they’re doing right. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and to know whether or not they’re actually good at their job.
Keep feedback constructive
Sometimes employees will do things wrong or do them in a way that isn’t very efficient. Screaming at them isn’t going to solve anything. When you’re giving your employees feedback, focus on how they can do things better next time rather than on how they messed up. This will help your employees focus on how to improve and stay motivated to work hard. Once again, your employees are just regular people who want to feel good about the work they’re doing.
Be a giver
Obviously you should always stick within budget, however investing in add-on employee benefits such as paid leave for participating in charity endeavours, allowing some flexibility for employees with children to attend school events or the ability for staff members to occasionally work from home are well-received by employees and do not directly cost the company money.
On the paid add-on benefit side, you do not need to go to the extent of some tech start-ups that offer outrageous employee perks, but things like health care benefits are always welcomed and with most corporations understanding the link between improved employee health and work output, many companies are embracing staff health and wellness programs that include health checks and even gym memberships nowadays.
Encourage your team to accept mistakes as part of the process
Behind every innovation there are a hundred failed attempts or more. Mistakes are part of the process and there is always room for improvement. If you want to have an innovative company that will grow rapidly and make a mark on history, you have to be willing to let yourself and your employees fail. You have to accept that some of your products will get no traction at all, but you only need one runaway success to make up for the failures.
Avoiding failure altogether is a sure way to stay rooted in mediocrity. Teach your employees to pick themselves back up and move on after failure and watch them flourish.
- Cultivate difference
Everyone is different and the best teams consist of highly diverse groups of people whose differences compliment each other. If you can learn how to work with many different types of people efficiently and how to cultivate each person’s strengths, you can build an incredibly dynamic team that will produce incredible innovation.
This one is really two things. First, you must accept that no matter what you do, somebody out there will hate it, often for ridiculous reasons. Second, you must realize that a lot of the time criticism actually has some validity to it. You must learn to treat criticism as a learning experience, a tool you can use to make the next version of whatever you have created even better. When you receive criticism learn to take a step back, take a deep breath, and approach the thing again calmly.
Most of all, never respond negatively to a bad review online. You will only harm your internet reputation by attacking reviewers, even if they are obviously the bitter, hate-filled kind.
Becoming a better leader is all about changing your outlook on life and business. Start by making a commitment today—half an hour every day to work specifically on your leadership skills.
Greg Nunan is an Australian entrepreneur and blogger at New-Startups.com. He also helps corporations and small businesses to generate new business online via his online marketing firm, Winning Edge Digital.