8 Habits That Make You a Better Leader
Don't just be average, be an outstanding leader.
People remember bad or great bosses. Nothing in between.
Everybody wants a stellar team and a supportive leader. Yet, how many of us have that luxury?
Inspiring leaders are a rare species. When you have them, you are likely to be loyal to them no matter what. Pay them with gold. They make teams successful, are buddies to hang out with, and they have a vision.
The good news is: You can be one of them.
You do not have to change your personality or take expensive courses. But you need to build a set of these habits. They will set you apart. #successfullytested
1. Be visible
Does it sound silly to you if I say that to be a great leader, you need to be seen?
I have a friend whose team leader is never around. He is either in his office or at meetings, or somewhere. It is like when your parents are never home. It does not feel safe. People need attention and a sense of being taken care of.
We are one human tribe.
A leader’s presence makes you feel safe. He’s covering your back.
But you don’t have to walk around your office and greet everyone loudly to show you are THERE. No need to breathe on your coworkers’ necks all the time, either.
Just put down your headphones from time to time. Break your ‘do not disturb mode’. Take a coffee break with other people. Show genuine interest in what they do and how they feel.
Being visible means you are approachable. Swallow your sarcasm and negativity from time to time. I know. Some people come to you with stupid ideas. But, hey, you listen to them, discuss them, and let them discover they are actually silly. No need to get frustrated and condescending.
Earn a reputation as a person who is around when others need him. Respect!
2. Avoid using corporate gibberish
“Deliver it ASAP.”
“What clients do we have to keep our radar on?”
“We have to look at this topic before making a decision.”
“Let’s focus on finding ways to move the needle on our KPIs.”
“As we move forward with this initiative, let’s keep in mind the potential for synergy among our different teams.”
Blah. Blah. Meh.
Company culture makes people communicate in a certain way. If you are around for a while, you take over and speak like a baby doll. You repeat statements that are often empty to slide into a role.
How do you sound? Catch yourself and laugh sometimes.
The best leaders I have met were genuine and had brisk language. They said things as they were. No beating around the bush or protecting the feelings of other people. They drove open discussions and valued opinions.
Gibberish won’t earn you respect.
Let people get to know your opinions, and don’t be afraid to speak up. When people are nice to each other all the time and say: “Let’s look at it later.” Instead of saying it’s stupid, something is off with the culture.
A smile is free. Yet, how many people smile when they come to work?
Smiling can spread a positive mood and relax people. I have a fellow trainer friend whose training is great. Yet, when she gets into explaining concepts, she becomes very serious and never smiles.
“Nothing you wear is more important than your smile.” — Connie Stevens
Take your smile on. You will feel more relaxed. Challenges and problems will be more bearable when treated with positivity.
Smiling is a leadership superpower that many forget about.
4. Take time to consolidate
Try this for the next four weeks:
Shorten every meeting you have by 5–10 minutes
Take this cut-off time for yourself and reflect on what has been said
Note down questions, feelings, and remarks
Put down one action
Leaders do not take enough time for themselves. Do a favor to your brain and let it relax and consolidate.
A difference between an average and an excellent leader is that a competent leader thinks more and works better with information. To be able to do so, you need time.
Reward your team by taking a break for yourself. You will be so much more useful.
Information flows around. One thing that leaders consistently complain about is the lack of time. Gain some from your meetings. It is an investment that pays off in gold.
5. Be on time
It is a small thing, but it means a lot. Show your sense of organization and respect when you are on time. Do not make them wait for you.
Time management is one of the most valuable tools leaders have. If you feel you have an issue with it, work on it. But do not punish your team for being late. It is annoying.
6. Do not interrupt people in the middle
Great leaders listen. But they do not listen to themselves. They pay attention to other people.
Do you listen? I mean listen. Not just hearing people opening their mouths, but the content, the tone, and of course, their body language. You may get tired of listening to other people. But, jumping into their talk? No bueno.
The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting. Fran Lebowitz
When talking with your team members, you want to wait for what they have to say. Give them the benefit of silence. They usually pick up first and keep talking.
Try to avoid interrupting them. Some people need time to develop their arguments and describe all the facts.
Wait for them.
7. Ask fearless questions
Now I want you to stop playing it safe. Great leaders get dirty by asking uncomfortable or even silly questions.
No question is wrong.
Be curious about everything, and do not take anything for granted. If you are afraid of asking questions, your team might be the same. So, here we have an example of blocked communication.
Be a better leader and try this exercise:
Bring up a challenge for your team
Let them think about it for a minute or two
Ask them questions, but do not provide answers yourself
Questions are key to collaboration and relationships. If you don’t ask and only deliver, you are a pretty terrible leader.
8. Be a ‘Don’t Knower’
Just admit you do not know everything. Common.
Leaders are expected to have all the answers. Yet, they rarely do. That is why they have amazing teams.
“I’ve always been a ‘don’t knower’. I’ve always been very comfortable saying, ‘I don’t know.’ As a result, there’s a sense of openness. When you don’t know, and you’re really listening intently, people want to help you. They want to share.” — Eileen Fisher
Isn’t that refreshing? Let people help you. You help them back.
Saying ‘no’ and ‘I don’t know’ empowers the teams around you. They also want to feel important. Everyone needs a pat on the back from time to time.
Give it to them.
People have answers if they try to work on them alone. Say goodbye to micromanagement and welcome better leadership skills.
You made it!
Now, let’s build a habit:
Pick one thing you want to try.
Do it consistently next 6 weeks.
Then reflect on whether it was worth it and if anything has changed.
Feel better about yourself
Pick another thing and repeat the process.
Congratulations, you are on your way to becoming a better leader. Leadership is a journey. If you commit, it will reward you in the long run.
➡️Read The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
➡️Are you stuck? Join a 1h session about what is holding you back. It is on the 28th of Feb at 5 pm (CET).
See you next week! Ivona
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