Becoming a great leader takes time, but there are things you can do today—right now—to improve your leadership. These basic steps that will propel you towards greater success and influence.
Drawing from my own experiences and working with other leaders for nearly 40 years, I will share seven crucial actions you can take right now. By embracing these practices, you will see noticeable improvement quickly.
1. Embrace Continuous Learning
To become a better leader, you must adopt a mindset of continuous learning. Commit to expanding your knowledge, staying updated on industry trends, and seeking out new perspectives. Read books, attend seminars, listen to podcasts, and engage in meaningful conversations with experts. The diversity of your input is key. Being an example of lifelong learning not only enriches your leadership skills but also inspires your team to pursue growth and development.
To do right now: Develop a learning agenda. Create it around these three questions: 1. What do you most need to learn? 2. What would you most like to learn? 3. What would you most like to be able to teach to your team?
2. Develop Authentic Relationships
Great leadership is built on real relationships. An authentic relationship is where you know the other person and they know you beyond the superficial. It is about knowing and being know. Learn and show genuine interest in their aspirations, challenges, and well-being. Cultivate an environment of trust, empathy, and open communication. When your team members feel valued and understood, they will be more motivated and engaged, leading to higher levels of productivity and collaboration. People who feel significant make significant contributions.
To do right now: Ask one of your team members what she or he would most like to achieve at your organization.
3. Lead by Example
As a leader, your actions speak louder than words. They will listen to what you say but watch what you do even more attentively. Be a role model for the behaviors and values you expect from your team. Make integrity, accountability, and professionalism a priority in all your interactions. By leading by example, you create a culture of excellence, where others are inspired to emulate your commitment and work ethic.
To do right now: Find a time when you actions fell short of your spoken intentions. Consider admitting your failure to those it affected and promise to be more congruent going forward.
4. Foster a Culture of Innovation.
Encourage a culture of innovation and creativity within your team. Embrace new ideas, promote a safe space for experimentation, and celebrate calculated risks. Encourage your team members to think outside the box and explore fresh approaches to problem-solving. By fostering a culture of innovation, you empower your team to unleash their full potential and drive transformative outcomes.
To do right now: Ask everyone on your team to submit one idea they have on how to improve or change what is being done to create better results. Small, yes, but a start. Get your team on the lookout for good ideas.
5. Develop Your Emotional Intelligence.
Leadership is not just about technical skills; it also requires emotional intelligence. Enhance your self-awareness, empathy, and relationship management skills. Understand the impact your words and actions have on others and learn to adapt your leadership style to different individuals and situations. By mastering emotional intelligence, you will create a harmonious and supportive work environment.
To do right now: From experience, personal and with my clients, reflection is one of the hardest things a leader does. Schedule 30 minutes with no cell phone or computer, just a note pad and pen. Let your mind not just think but contemplate what is happening in your personal and professional life. Record any insights.
6. Communicate with Clarity and Purpose
Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful leadership. Strive for clarity, brevity, and transparency in your communication. Articulate your vision, goals, and expectations with precision. Listen actively and encourage open dialogue. Regularly provide feedback, recognizing achievements, and offering constructive guidance. By mastering the art of communication, you will foster alignment and empower your team to achieve collective success.
To do right now: Share with your team the 2-3 best ideas you have for increasing success (see #4). Ask them for suggestions on how to best implement those ideas.
7. Practice Servant Leadership
True leadership is rooted in service to others. Embrace the concept of servant leadership by placing the needs of your team members before your own. Support their growth, provide mentorship, and remove obstacles that hinder their progress. By serving your team, you build trust, loyalty, and a sense of shared purpose that drives exceptional results.
To do right now: Ask everyone on your team, “What can I do to help?” This isn’t an invite to have you do their job but rather a way to support them appropriately in being successful.
Becoming a better leader is an ongoing journey that requires intentional effort and a commitment to personal growth. By embracing continuous learning, fostering authentic relationships, leading by example, promoting innovation, developing emotional intelligence, communicating effectively, and practicing servant leadership, you will elevate your leadership abilities to new heights. Remember, leadership is not about a title; it is about positively influencing others and making a lasting impact. Start implementing these seven steps today and watch your leadership soar.
Mark Sanborn is motivational keynote speaker and Leadership Expert in Residence at High Point University, the Premier Life Skills University. His teaches leaders and teams how to be extraordinary. For more information about his work, visit www.marksanborn.com.