Leadership is always a hot topic in business and management circles. Questions such as: “What makes a good leader?” and “What are personality traits of good leaders?” are common in such discussions. Today, we’re going to talk about three very tangible ways you can be a better leader. And, it should be duly noted that being a leader and serving as a manager can be two very different things. Nevertheless, it is the leader who will ultimately get us to our goal.
3 Ways to Be a Better Leader
We’ve all heard it before, “Do as I say, not as I do.” And, we all have the same response: We hate it. People don’t like being led by tellers. People like being led by doers. Those who act the part are easy to follow, especially when they are leading from the front lines. Setting examples of excellence are great ways to be a better leader to your team. While almost every organization has by now developed behavior standards and the like, it is one thing to be able to recite all 5, 10, 12, or 21 behavioral standards. It is truly another thing for someone to live out these virtues and become truly inspirational if not infectiously positive with their deeds. So, you want to be a better leader? Do you have some awesome ideas you wish to implement? Have you come up with the solutions to the issues plaguing your company? Excellent. Lead from the front. Show, not tell, the vision you have. Take the first steps out into the frontier and those who matter most will follow.
Whether you are an associate, a coworker, a partner, a supervisor, team leader, or one of the many front line staff members, being a better leader goes beyond what your title and position is. It has everything to do with how you regard your team, how you treat your team, and how the team regards you. Some of the best leaders out there typically serve in positions just under “the boss.” They have regularly proven their worth and earned their stripes. They aren’t necessarily in a position of authority, rather, they have authority given them by the team which they are a part of. They have been given this authority because they have always watched out for their teammates. They have your back and will make sure that no one, be it the manager, the boss’ boss, some disgruntled customer, or what have you… no one gets to bully you around. Being a better leader has everything to do with how you take care of your own teammates. Being a better leader means you have to get uncomfortable by respectfully standing up to your boss, fighting for what is right by your team. Being a better leader means you take the extra shift or volunteer or overtime because your teammate needs to get off on time to pick up their kid. Being your teammate’s biggest advocate is one of the strongest forms of leadership.
We all need nourishment. As people, we need to be fed on many dimensions. Most commonly in the workplace, we need emotional, intellectual, physical, professional, and personal nourishment to keep engaged, healthy, and to keep growing. Lacking in any of these dimensions will quickly cause a burnout which can lead to turnover, disengagement, and disarray of any given team. As a leader, you must be sure to attend to each teammate in the respects they need. It could be as simple as picking up a box of bagels to wrap up a tough week on a Friday morning. It could be mentoring a new team member who feels challenged by the intellectual demands of the workplace. Perhaps you have a coworker who needs a workout buddy. Or, maybe you have a frustrated colleague who is looking for upward opportunities and you just so happen to know of a lateral transfer which could become open to them. Keeping your team well fed and nourished will keep them well. In fact, it will keep them strong, agile, and most importantly, it will keep them tight knit. As you keep them well fed, they will remember who kept strong for them when they were weak. They will also remember to pass on the positivity, learning from you how important it is to take care of each other.
So, you want to be a better leader?
Start with these three steps. Lead from the front and let those who join you for the journey matter most. Always advocate for your team’s best interest. Attend to each teammate with care and concern. And, make sure that they are well fed in all the various dimensions they need to keep themselves balanced and away from burnout. Above all, as you do these things in becoming a better leader, do so selflessly. There is nothing more inspiring than a leader who does all for the best of you… the team.