Six definitive rules to help you become a better leader

The leadership topic is one of the widely discussed today.  We see people who call themselves leaders just because they have titles in large companies or speaking in front of a large auditorium.  As the 20th century was the century of Peter Drucker and the management paradigm, the 21st century is the century of leadership.

While surrounded by so many leaders we often start thinking on the topic and measuring our leadership skills, attitudes, and level.  While building themselves as successful leaders, many of the growing personalities do not know where to start and what is essential to become a great leader.  Sure, there are many leadership testing tools out there, but many of them focus on one, or several sides of the leadership, based on answers in a safe environment, picturing just one moment of the person’s life.

On top of that, many leadership development programs describe leadership as a specific behavior, subordinated as an element of some company-specific environment.  

In that situation, there is no doubt that people struggle to understand what real leadership looks like and do their best to answer only one environmental requirement.  That makes them dependent and self-limited to the other world.

While living in a self-limiting environment, many leaders cannot go the extra mile to become the best versions of themselves and add more value to others’ lives.  Following some limited rules and paradigms for leadership development brings out little results. 

To overcome that specific situation, we need some universal list of rules to build leadership beyond the known and expanding borders to the fields of unknown but more rewarding environment. But even understanding that, we still need a list of universal rules to follow, who can help us become better versions of ourselves and better leaders for the good of others around us. 

Here is a list of 6 definite rules you can follow if you want to become a better leader and supporter of other talents:

Find tools to motivate rather than scare others

I have been twice in teams where we worked hard without knowing what we do, why we do it, and how this will impact company goals and our compensation.  It was scary for me because I did not know what I was doing and why I was doing what I was doing.  If this looks scary or familiar to you, then you are not alone.  There are many people out there in the same situation.  To overcome that situation, a good leader offers information on how everyone’s work impacts larger goals for more significant results.  The great leader provides metrics to measure progress and explains everyone’s contribution with more extensive results or meaningful goals.

Listen to others

While aiming for a higher goal to be achieved, leaders need strong teams to support them.  The leader can find something useful in every team member’s position or activity.  That is why the leader must be good at listening to others in the team.  Ideas and proposals are very welcome, but the people also share ways to accomplish goals that may be different from the leader’s perspective, but, in most cases, more effective while working on a specific task.  That is why the leader must learn how to listen to others without having in mind any stoppers of their reactions, thoughts, and ideas.  No one is so good that they can do the work alone and in silos.    

Minimize micromanagement

While we work with a different tempo, we are often tempting ourselves to micromanage others we see as slower, not working exactly by the rules established.  There is nothing wrong with following up with a new employee on several topics as part of the onboarding process,  but if this follows up becomes a plan to be always there and say how things must be done,  it becomes micromanagement.  Not giving enough freedom can kill the leader and the team gains simultaneously and limit the results to the leader level, speed, and understandings.  That often reflects lower morale in the team, insufficient energy to complete tasks, internal demotivation, low level of engagement to the work, and limited accountability toward broader goals.

Delegate to ensure full engagement and accountability

Stepping out from micromanagement is a positive step, but only through delegation can real success be achieved.  Delegating does not mean giving away your tasks, but more giving freedom to someone else to finish them while still taking responsibility for completion.  Successful leaders do not delegate because they want to get rid of a task or a goal, but they want to develop others while giving them the stage to grow through challenging and more exciting work.  If the leader wants people to build with him or her, they must enable and support delegation.

Give feedback – but do not forget to make it constructive

You have had planned feedback sessions while you were an employee, but now when you’re the leader, you should give others the gift of feedback.  Leaders have the tuff task of delivering feedback, and, according to Gallup 2017 survey, 68% of them still need to work a lot to provide that feedback accurately.  If the leader wants his team to develop, he or she must offer input.  But not just any type of feedback.  The developing feedback is a constructive one.  This type of feedback must be not be given in front of others. And when giving it, the leader must focus on delivering the positive elements, then sharing thoughts on improvement, while at the same time offering support for change.  Constructive feedback must provide support for the employee to realize what went well, what needs improvement, and what to do to improve, develop, and deliver better results.  The role of the leader with this type of feedback is to help growth, instead of only pointing some positive or negative elements in the performance

Praising generously 

I once was very excited about a result I have achieved at work. In a new role, with less than a month in the company, I had to work on improving internal customers’ trust in the HR function.  This indicator for the HR department went from 26% to 85% in less than six months.  My team leader’s reaction was – Hmm, it looks nice, but still, we need more than 90% to mark that target as completed.  I felt terrible and thought how ungrateful the lady was because part of the broken-down indicator was her behavior. After a while, I got real praise from the Country Sales Director for my work with the whole Sales population of employees that made me feel great.  The short story here is that you need to give credit and praise others frequently the right way if you want better results.  It is the leader’s job to understand how praise impacts the person’s behavior and products and offer as much as possible to keep that behavior in the mood for results.  People receiving generous credit in front of others are 30% more likely to stay at the company and walk the extra mile while achieving results and completing goals (according to a Harvard Business review article from 2019).  So, the leader must understand the power of praise and give it generously to the people while expecting only dedication, engagement, and accountability.

IN CONCLUSION:

No person can work in silos. Even those who look like lone workers need support and a positive attitude to continue doing their job.  The role of the leader is crucial for the team and company results.  Giving freedom and supporting others through constructive and developing feedback and generous praise is the factor that can help every leader achieve outstanding results within and outside the team he or she leads. 

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