Self-Improvement for Leaders
Regardless of the structure of your organization, as a leader, the responsibility for inspiring and motivating your team falls to you. Your role is critical in the creation and maintenance of a healthy environment – and sometimes, just a small shift in your management style or strategy can make a huge difference.
Nobody's perfect – and the best team leaders are those who strive to continue improving their own interpersonal and managerial skills. Here are some simple guidelines for self-improvement which will help you set the right tone, and lead by example.
- Practice good follow-up. It's something every leader encourages others to do – but do you practice it, yourself? Ask your team for feedback regarding meetings, ongoing training and education, or even team strategy. Open a dialogue which allows them to comment on whether the information they are receiving is useful and applicable, and share any suggestions for improvement. You may be surprised at just how important these discussions can be to the overall health of your organization.
- Keep learning. Good leadership stresses progress through continual development of team skills – but do you place any emphasis on your own growth? Continue your personal and professional development by attending coaching courses, educational seminars, and classes which help you improve your communication, and you'll not only gain new skills which support your leadership role – you'll continue to grow as a person.
- Set clear goals. Goals aren't just for your project, or other people! Setting leadership goals is important, too – and creating measurable milestones will not only increase and improve your professional accountability, it'll keep you on track for creating an organization comprised of balanced, well-adjusted contributors.
- Be a great resource. Great leaders guide – but a truly excellent leader shares their best practices, successes, and expertise with others. Let your team members know that you are both knowledgable and accessible, and that they can come to you with questions, challenges, or to receive qualified advice. And don't be afraid to refer them to outside resources, in cases where you may not have all the answers!
- Hone your communication skills. Familiarize yourself with different learning types, personalities, and communication styles. Are you presenting information in a way that connects with every person you interact with? By honing your own strategy and approach to interpersonal communication, you'll improve both your internal and external relationships, and establish an environment of inclusion.
- Focus on the positive. Emphasize the successes and achievements of your team, and go out of your way to offer encouragement to those who are struggling. Adjusting your focus to reinforce the positive can be challenging, but a little appreciation and support can go a long way towards the development of a strong, resilient organization.
- Become an excellent mediator. Effective leadership and organizational management requires the ability to rise above conflict. When others are squabbling or experiencing negative morale, address it immediately and diplomatically. Get to the root of your team's concerns, and use your mediation skills to diffuse any negative interaction.
- Be a dedicated observer. Pay attention to the dynamics of your team and organization, and keep an eye out for areas of potential improvement. Careful observation will help you hone your management strategy, prioritize action, and offer valuable insight into team dynamics.
- Be trustworthy. Without an established relationship of trust, your leadership and guidance mean nothing. To build solid relationships, your team needs to know they can rely on you to act with honesty and integrity – so be trustworthy. It's the only real way to gain respect.
- Practice accountability. Ensuring that you are following guidelines, policies, and instructions you've outlined for others on your team isn't just good leadership. Owning and embodying best practices will help you understand the obstacles and challenges your employees face, and provide valuable insight on overcoming those hurdles. By accepting responsibility for your actions, and owning the results, you'll set the standard for accountability – and encourage those you lead to follow suit.
Remember – great leadership isn't just about what you say, it's about what you do! The best way to lead is by example. By focusing your sights on the self-improvement tactics which make you a better leader, you'll hone your interpersonal communication and managerial skills, inspire your team members, and improve overall morale – ensuring a more healthy and successful approach to accomplishing your organization's goals.