There are myriad ways to improve your leadership abilities:
- You could read a book on the topic.
- You could attend a leadership conference.
- You could take a management course.
But nothing you learn will create any meaningful improvements unless you change your daily behaviors.
Adopting better habits is the key to remarkable leadership.
Over time, systematically replacing bad habits with better ones can dramatically improve any aspect of your life – especially your ability to lead others. In this recent post, “Teach Yourself a New Trick,” we shared six tips for adopting healthier, more productive behaviors to improve your professional life. Today we’re building off that concept, sharing specific habits you can instill to become a more effective leader:
Habit 1: Practice active listening.
You’re in a leadership position because you’re a quick thinker and have a wealth of knowledge and experience. But if you’re interrupting or tuning out others’ communication, you’re missing the mark. Strengthening your active listening skills will make you more patient, empathetic and receptive to the ideas others present. Here are a few simple habits to hone your abilities:
- Be fully present in the moment, focusing your eyes, ears and attention on the speaker.
- Don’t interrupt.
- Resist the urge to formulate your response or follow-up question until after the other person has finished speaking.
- Monitor the speaker’s verbal and nonverbal cues – including what they don’t say – to garner important information.
- Summarize and reflect what the other person has said to confirm understanding.
- Respond only once you’re certain you understand the speaker.
Habit 2: Delegate intelligently.
You’re probably great at a lot of things – but that doesn’t mean you can or should do them all! Great leaders regularly examine and prioritize their responsibilities, reserving their time for high-priority work that’s essential to achieving their goals. Then, they systematically delegate appropriate activities to increase productivity, while fostering employee development and engagement. If you struggle with “letting go,” use these tips to make effective delegation a habit:
- Prioritize your responsibilities into three tiers: core (i.e., tasks only you can/should do); important (i.e., high-priority, high-touch tasks which could potentially delegated under the right circumstances); and low-priority (i.e., less-important tasks that are time- or labor-intensive and outside your core responsibilities).
- Start small. Choose low-priority tasks for which the “how” doesn’t matter, as long as the work is satisfactorily completed. As your team adapts to taking on new tasks, gradually increase the scope of delegation.
- Give and get feedback – but don’t micromanage. Once you’ve provided the training and resources to your team, let them know how they can reach you for questions – and then walk away from it. When the task is completed, review it. Provide feedback your staff can use to improve results next time, and ask them for their perspective. Use what you learn to make the process more effective moving forward.
Habit 3: Always get back up.
Great leaders are incredibly resilient. They know that they will face challenges, distractions and even crushing defeats – but they don’t let those stop them. Whenever you face stress, setbacks, anger or uncertainty:
- Remember that it’s not how many times you get knocked down; it’s how many times you get back up that matters.
- Consider what you’re not seeing. Practice looking beyond the negative aspects of a situation and find opportunities to learn, grow and become stronger.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Nobody has all the answers, all the resources or all the skills to handle every obstacle on their own. Enlist the help of employees, peers and outside partners to face challenges, work until you overcome them, and be better prepared for the future.
Successes and failures come and go. Markets, industries and economic conditions will always change. Habits like the ones described in this post will help you lead more successfully no matter what the work world throws your way.
Want to be a more remarkable leader – or hire great leaders for your Middle Tennessee organization?
Wood Personnel can provide the staffing and recruiting support you need to focus on your top priorities, hire talented managers and build a stronger company. What can Wood do for you? Contact our Gallatin staffing agency today.